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Showing posts from February, 2016

more fun with etymology

From the Greek Wiktionary definition for φατικός,

Ο Πολωνός ανθρωπολόγος που εισήγαγε τον όρο το 1900, ορμόμενος από λέξεις όπως εμφατικός και αποφαντικός, θεώρησε ότι η λέξη που προτίμησε προέρχεται από το φαίνω (καθιστώ φανερό, φέρνω στο φως), ενώ άλλοι θεωρούν ετυμολογικά ότι η λέξη είναι πιο συγγενής με τον τύπο φατός (και φατειός) του ρήματος φημί, όπως το αποφατικός.

Which Google translates to:

The Polish anthropologist who introduced the term in 1900, ormomenos words as emphatic and deliberative considered that the word preferred from the seems (I make clear, I bring to light), while others consider etymologically the word is more akin to the type fatou (and fateios) and the verb fimios, like apophatic.

That's interesting, and mostly confirms what we already know.  The one hint at the end that's a bit new is the term αποφατικός, which Wiktionary says "expresses refusal."  The antonym of that term is καταφατικός, which affirms, says yes, or agrees.

As "Against 'Distributed Cognition'," or, The meaning of pain

Jacoby: I’m gonna teach you the meaning of pain.
Elizabeth: You like pain? Try wearing a corset.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
I've been thinking about using the discussion of navigation in Melanesia from Hutchins's Cognition in the Wild as part of a "retelling" of the story of phatic communication -- however I'm not entirely sure how that will work, and as I don't have the book in my hand at the moment, I decided to warm up with a critical look at Hutchins's theory.  The main source I'm looking at is:
Button, Graham. "Against 'distributed cognition'." Theory, Culture & Society 25.2 (2008). Button describes distributed cognition as an attempt to extend "cognitivist" ways of thinking out into the world.

This cognitivist way of thinking is derived from computational metaphors and terms like memory, plans, and intentions all figure in this way of thinking with technical meanings layered on top of…

recapitulation theory: transitional objects

Although largely discredited in biology, the idea that "Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny" has been re-used in other areas; for example, in art criticism it has been reformulated by Richard Taruskin as "ontogeny recapitulates ontology."  Roughly speaking, this suggests that contextual effects can change the "meaning" of a work.

What I'm interested in here is the micro-developmental version of the phatic (and especially φωτιά-centric) history from Vitruvius.  Sloterdijk is certainly interested in micro-development and most of Spheres I is focused on this topic.  However, he looks primarily at prenatal life, whereas I think there is an interesting parallel to be found in Winnicott's perspectives on early childhood.

(Also, entirely as an aside, it also occurs to me when writing the above that photo- is part of the phatic complex, so "phatic image" may be just as redundant as "phatic speech".)

Looking into the Winnicott's "…

Phatic Objects

So I finally stumbled upon something that reinforces the alternative etymological interpretation of "phatic", specifically in the sense "to show":During a performance in front of an audience, 3D printers often produce useless objects that serve as pretexts for operating the machines [Figure 3(c and d)]. Usually, these samples are downloaded from the Internet. Known as “crapjects”, a contraction of “crappy” and “objects”, they are printed to make up for a lack of inspiration; the idea that we can print anything petrifies people far more than it liberates them. These objects, created by default, should be referred to as phatic objects from the ancient Greek word phanein meaning “to show”. They represent a ready-made lyophilised version of the possibilities of personal production. The Russian linguist Jakobson (1963) defined the phatic function of language as language for the sake of interaction. In the technical situation imposed by 3D printing, this means maintainin…