Monday, 25 July 2016

Not Acknowledging Barthes As Intellectual Source

Martin (1992: 537-8):
Barthes goes on to point out that sequences involve both expectancy and risk. Recognition of an activity sequence implies an expectation that one of its events will follow another, but the succession is not necessary.  It is always possible for expectations to be countered, which creates the context for concessive conjunctive relations. Counterexpectation is a critical feature of narrative genre (and one that does not come naturally to young writers who generally fail to put succession at risk):
However minimal its importance, a sequence, since it is made up of a small number of nuclei (that is to say, in fact of 'dispatchers'), always involves moments of risk and it is this that justifies analysing it.  It might seem futile to constitute into a sequence the logical succession of trifling acts which go to make up the offer of a cigarette (offering, accepting, smoking, lighting), but precisely at every one of these points, an alternative — and hence a freedom of meaning — is possible. … A sequence is thus, one can say, a threatened logical unit, this being its justification a minimo.  (1977: 102)

Blogger Comments:

[1] Martin (1992: 322-4) proposes 'expectancy' as an activity sequence relation (e.g. here).  He does not acknowledge Barthes as the source of the idea.  At the symposium to honour the late Ruqaiya Hasan, Martin falsely accused Hasan of not acknowledging Mitchell as one of her sources (evidence here).

[2] The highly fanciful notion of meaning 'at risk' is finally clarified here for the first time and sourced to Barthes.  In terms of SFL theory, it simply means the speaker is always free to instantiate a different option during logogenesis.  The risk is to the feature and it is the risk of not being selected.   All features are thus "put at risk" outside the moment of instantiation.  "Pretentious?! Moi?!"

[3] The perspective on language here is that of the addressee, not the speaker.

[4] This is relevant only for the semantics of specific text types, mainly fictional.  The discussion here is purported to be establishing a model of field (context), the ideational dimension of cultural potential in general — which Martin misconstrues as register.

[5] In SFL theory, concessive conjunctive relations are a specific type of causal-conditional relation, served by items such as yet, still, though, despite this, however, even so, all the same, nevertheless (Halliday & Matthiessen 2014: 614).  Martin misunderstands and misapplies the concessive enhancement relation, as demonstrated, for example, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

[6] It is worth pointing out that Barthes' construal of nuclei that make up a sequence as 'dispatchers' is imaginative fiction, not semiotic theory.  Barthes otherwise presents the relation as 'made up', but in sense of composition, not fiction.

[7] Barthes' claim is that it is the fact that the speaker is always free to instantiate a different option during logogenesis that justifies both the sequence and its analysis.  This is, of course, no less true, or false, of any instance of language.

[8] Note that, in this misquoting of Barthes, the carcinogenic cause of heart disease is not lit until after it is smoked.

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