Sunday, 3 April 2016

Misrepresenting Cohesive Harmony

Martin (1992: 488-9):
Looked at from the point of view of field and embracing the ineffable, the semantics of these texturing processes can be glossed, albeit metaphorically, as follows.  Cohesive harmony locates a text within a particular field or sub-field.  As a measure of coherence cohesive harmony argues that the more meanings are experientially related to each other in a text in similar ways, the more coherent the text is.  A maximally coherent text is thus defined as one in which the same event is repeated over and over again, as in a recount of the operation of a robot on a factory floor.  Since this kind of activity sequence is not worth talking about, the experiential texture associated with coherence never amounts to simple repetition.  But in some sense, the more focussed the field, the more coherent cohesive harmony analysis will show a text to be.

Blogger Comments:

[1] Martin's notion of field is theoretically inconsistent and self-inconsistent in two distinct ways, as shown in previous posts.  On the one hand, field is confused with semantics (e.g. 'activity sequences' in the text); on the other, field, a dimension of context (culture as a semiotic) is misconstrued as a dimension of register (a sub-potential of language).

[2] In the words of Conan Doyle's Dr. John H. Watson: "What ineffable twaddle!"

[3] Cohesive harmony is not a "texturing process".  Hasan's cohesive harmony refers to the synergy between meanings of the textual metafunction and those of the ideational metafunction (construing experience) and, potentially, the interpersonal metafunction (enacting the self in social relations).  Texture, the quality of being a text, arises from the resources of the textual metafunction.

[4] This confuses metafunctions.  It is not the experiential relations between meanings that measure the coherence of a text.  As Hasan (1985: 94) makes clear:
Variation in coherence is a function of variation in the cohesive harmony of a text. … Cohesive harmony is an account of how the two functions [textual and experiential] find their expression in one significant whole.
[5] This confuses the ideational metafunction (repeated events) with the textual metafunction, the source of coherence.

[6] This is a contradiction in terms.  Texture is achieved through the resources of the textual metafunction.  The experiential metafunction is concerned with the construal of experience.