Introduction to Blurting in A & L (print version 1973)
[page 1] Remember all that earlier material about the librarian acting as a link between the author and the enquirer/user? Well, this project --its strategic place-- is analogous to librarianship. It's oriented toward predicting a kind of behavior that might be conducive to a learning situation for the user. This has a lot more to do with reader or user deliberation than it has to do with analyses of 'semantic fields', 'possible worlds' etc.
The problems and range of decisions we face as a group are no longer simply 'read about' as in the earlier research-paper period. These problems are now 'matched' by the reader. The project tries to match the kinds of proceedings/decisions we went through in the earlier annotated project. (This project involved eight of us here in New York. It was based on a notion of annotating: a set of short statements or remarks were written and a series of commentaries or annotations derived from these. This procedure continued and the resulting bulk of collected 'annotations' exhibited a variety of branchings, contradictory sequences, learning chains and the whole project producing a shared topography of the interaction of the eight participants over a limited period --January-July, 1973).
There is more of a commitment in terms of our being librarians than in the ordinary sense of being a librarian --because we are also constructing pathways through the work. You could say that a librarian only shows you where to find a particular bit of information, content --in other words, based on the eloquence of your request, the librarian provides entry points to a body of information. Our roles indicate our intimacy with that content; we provide entry points, and possible pathways within.
Let's look at the kinds of deliberation we faced each week in the Annotations: every week we each received about ten different annotations (one or two from each of us). Looking at those annotations we wondered 'do I want to respond to this one?', 'How will I respond to this ?', 'How will I go on?', 'Do I want to go on?', 'Will I go on in this way?', 'Will I react against this?'. Some of those deliberations become real for the user of this handbook. First, we made a list of some 400-odd items or blurts edited from the Annotations. (As a handbook it is almost an arbitrarily restricted fragment comprised of what went on during a particular period of discourse. Let' s just say that this is one kind of vocabulary learning device). After our 400-odd blurts there are two possible relations to, potentially, every other single blurt. 'Potentially', though in the sense of an idealization, since complete saturation (i.e., total connectedness) would be the same as saying, if you start at entry point A (the first item) you are guaranteed to get to exit Z (the very last item) while having traversed a pathway that encompassed every single blurt in between. This is, of course, not the case, since there are some distinct groups or clusterings of entries (blurts). How we activate these clusters or groups has to do with our own interest, goals etc.
The first relation is a '-->'. There is also a '&'. The point is that these are not just to make the readings 'interesting', but to make the readings problematic. In other words, it makes reading explicit. It means that after reading a given blurt you have to ask yourself 'How do I go on?', 'Do I in fact want to go on?'. Reading is problematical and no longer goes on as second-nature. The problem it shows is 'How do we, all of us, go on?' --we haven't set out, like good artists, to shout 'Look what we can do'. Presumably, making reading problematic in this way also opens it up to
[page 2] greater learning potential; this might also be contingent on the way we set the material up. Could you set it up as a display --as a kind of teaching-machine-- using a microfiche viewer or filing cabinets? Would this make reading more explicit? It might make the act of following pathways too cumbersome, too difficult. Some of these kinds of concerns fall under Moore's Law, you know, where an information system will tend not to be used whenever it is more painful and troublesome for a user to have the information than for a user not to have it.
While there are some 400-odd blurts, there are 100 of what you might call subject-headings or categories. These are not ontologically sufficient, they are just useful. Both 'category' and lexicon' are immanent, as opposed to transcendent, linguistic notions. That is, the notion of lexicon and the notion of category are defined for a particular language network, and not language in general. This brings up another point, perhaps more crucial because it occurs at the basic level of decision making when we talk about a so-called language network: we are wondering whether those concepts that tend to be useful for the analysis of sentences, utterances, in general, isolated speech/ language acts, are questionable when it comes to a unified collection of such speech/ language acts, i.e., a conversational matrix?
We could just as well call the 108 subject-headings 'user oriented landmarks'. That's really their value; they are keyed up to a user.
There are no strictly determined pathways, all you get is a set of possible next steps, a kind of trajectory through the handbook. This comes down to the deliberation we made/ make when we form the corpus of blurts under the '-->' and the '&'. It shows how deeply each of our blurts is embedded in a context; how, in a sense, these blurts are indexical. We have sets which are operated upon using the usual set-theoretic operations, e.g., the 'concatenate of sets' X, Y, and Z is represented as a set (XUYUZ) according to the Axiom of Choice. Thus we get those clusters that we mentioned before.
Under 'practical' and, say, 'rules' there is no necessarily determined correspondence in terms of the order of reading. It depends on your entry point. Ian's description was that if you go from one blurt and you read into the '-->' array then you are proceeding with a strong context. If you go into the '&' array then you are going into a weaker context. The latter way you are more likely to escape your original entry point/ pathway/ context. The whole thing can he seen as a domain of overlapping sets.
The notion of strong and weak contexts is problematic in itself --how do you prescribe context? How do we distinguish weak and strong except vaguely as it matches our intuitions ? It is the '-->' relation that is highly difficult, for even in conversational discourse, we imply that a sentence as a whole is true if the antecedent condition is satisfied, just as in formal logic. Ian's remark is pointed out to show that we are miles away from formal logical adequacy, In terms of that we could say that truth functionality doesn't yield anything interesting here. Are we just using the '-->' or the '&' in the sense that they occur in natural language --maybe one of the useful things to be gleaned from Cohen's article was his statement about the use of '&' in natural language/ conversation/ discourse as being a concatenation of clauses that bear a resemblance of kind. There is a question as to whether
[page 3] that is what we really mean when we use '&' in the handbook.
It's quite possible that the handbook will be utterly boring. They (the user) might say 'Can I be bothered going on?' and we have got to allow for the fact that the reader might not want to be bothered. This material is daft if it is taken out of its indexicality/ embeddedness. What we want to avoid is a situation where the material is presented and the reader feels he/ she can just thumb through it. Reading is a problematic practice. The material's embeddedness implies relationships between the blurts which we might be just sorting out. But what are our concerns here? With sorting out our language environment in a way modeled after linguistics --or are we even considering such an impressive task (dictionaries, thesauri)?
The point of this whole thing is a demonstration of a set of problems: it shows, but doesn't necessarily say. It's a demonstration of the kinds of problems/ decisions that we have involved ourselves in by acknowledging our own pragmatics and that the reader involves herself/ himself in by, presumably, acknowledging something of his / her own pragmatics. It's another way of letting someone 'share' our kinds of deliberations.
Much of this material will be incomprehensible at a glance. In order to get anything out of the material you would have to activate some of the potential pathways. Embeddedness becomes crucial.
Maybe there is another way of laying it out. At present it looks as if you've got to read everything listed under say the '&'. You don't; you simply have to look one subject listing up, then go to that, then to another, and so on. It's important to stress that there is no point in a linear reading of a whole cluster, since these subject-headings are not ordered. For example, say your entry point is 'collaboration', 93. If you are concerned with pursuing this pathway (opening up a potential pathway) you look into the '-->' array. You have seven subject listings of which 'paradigm', 259, concerns you most. So you move onto 'paradigm'. After reading the blurt under this particular subject heading you may want to exit from this pathway, so you look under the '&' array. You will find fourteen subject-listings of which 'reading', 306 concerns you most --and so it goes.
We allow for transitivity, we don't even have to get involved with the logical issue, we could just say that in terms of the mechanical manipulation of the blurts, in referring to something, then you can refer to that as a valid starting point and go through (construct really) your pathway.
You might even think of the handbook as a kind of 'teaching machine'. OK, so it's a blik. It compels exploration. Any display/ layout ought to be arranged so as to make it as useful as possible. These are basic psychological issues, but they haven't even been raised looking at some of the work we've done in galleries. There is a possibility of information to be found in the blurts but there is also a strong emphasis on how to proceed. It is about the structural/ ontological aspects of how to go on.
All this has little to do with a description of the possible profundities of us as a group. It's about constituting going-on, not describing going-on. The Annotations were concerned with developing a teaching/ learning, even social environment for eight individuals, all with a degree of shared interests and information. The Annotations were also concerned with providing a means to generate work, though some of the actual content of the Annotations is sometimes embarrassing in retrospect. Supposedly we now go-on as a teach-
[page 4] ing/learning-situation --we are concerned with what a statement obtains in our activity, not its static cognitivity value. There is a great discrepancy between individuals' behavior --some of the persons participating in the Annotations only followed and responded to arguments, they rarely initiated any --and when they did respond they sometimes said some silly things. The way I got around that was to say, well, it's a classroom situation and in such a situation people often say silly things. These silly things ought not to be ruled out, it's OK. After all we are not after some rationalist party-line, nor are we in the mood to impersonate W. V. O. Quine. We are talking about opportunism and pluralism (and I don't think that the sociological equivalent of pluralism is liberalism). One of the user entry points, for example, might be one of those embarrassing items, though this happens to correspond to a particular user's notion of interest. If a pathway is constructed to any extent, a user will be able to accumulate sequences and presumably stuff which is not silly. The 'classroom situation' is possibly a metaphor for a kind of pandemonium. So, in the end, the handbook is concerned with developing a learner environment; there has to be that sort of elbow room as is implied in pandemonium.
We treat 'philosophy' not as some contingently alien holy-cow, but as 'necessary'. We must do this as a consequence of our view of language. We also treat as 'necessary' (i.e., constitutive, not incidental) Lisson Gallery, John Weber's, reading, teaching, conversing etc. This means that we are critical of these conventions or are at least in a position where we can view them critically. In other words, we are trying not to be alienated from them (?) --all of the activities going to make up our pragmatics can be seen as necessitously related. For example, you don't just deal with bits of the art-domain (art-works), you deal with all of it. This is a heuristic, it's about trying not to get screwed-up by our politics. This maybe means that unlike most of those in the moribund Modern art academy, we try not to live in a reified fantasy world.
What would happen if you made a matrix of all the blurts and the relations (citations)? Reading down the matrix you would get the frequency for each blurt occurring as a selected second-member of the relation --but what would that show? Could you say that the blurts selected most frequently would stand as categories or references for cluster-concepts? All this might show was whether there was any even distribution throughout. One problem may be that the blurts selected most frequently are the most general or the least definitional, therefore they simply admit more relationships. Also, you would have to map out each of the relation-types individually. Would that tell us anything about these relations ? Would it help in understanding how the relations functioned while the handbook was under construction? What is striking on a basic level is that the 400-odd blurts have been approached textually, as a self-defining/ containing 'imploded' 'world'. The only relations suggested are internal, i.e., between blurts, not from the blurts to anything else. This 'world' is covered by two relationships, they become something like the totality of functions in that world. If that's the case then these relations must be gross enough to stand as either any one logical relation or any one conversational relation. But can you say that a conversational relation is so precise? I might say 'I have this piece of paper
[page 5] and I have that piece of paper' and the intended use of that 'and' is fairly explicit --the circumstances explain that for me. But saying blurt 75 has an 'and' relation to blurt 316 is not explicit. The former is pragmatically understood but the latter underdetermined by the context/ circumstances in which it functions.
What seems to have happened is that the '&' and the '-->' have come to represent very large clusters or families of relations which include instances of logical relations and/ or conversational relations. Kyburg made a point which may bear on this: if one has a body of reasonably accepted statements and you pick out any two sentences in the whole range of the discourse and concatenate them, the resulting sentence is still an acceptable one in that discourse. He had a bit of difficultly in actually accepting that, but in the case of the handbook it's likely to be quite acceptable. Kyburg's judgements were directed to a domain (e.g., Science, Logic) where, if the resultant concatenate was in some sense contradictory to the domain, it would be a calamity. Could such consistency apply to the handbook? We've over-ridden the possibility of consistency --is the range such that we may admit 'disasterous' concatenations (how about that so-called pluralism) ?
How can we characterize the relations in a somewhat broader sense? As families or even classes of relations ? The simple indication of '&' and '-->' may be deceptive in that they imply more precision or restriction. Qualifications on the use of the symbols ought to be made quite explicit: under the '&' family falls '...and then...', '...and so...', '...and next...', '...and analogously...', '...as well as...', 'on the one hand...and on the other...', 'either...or...', '...but...', '...however...', '...therefore...', '...and not...' etc. Can the relations, therefore, be broadly characterized as '-->' if you want to go-on in this direction and '&' if you want to exit this direction? The '&' does provide an alternativeness or a way of exiting from a line or direction (you exit a pathway rather than relax along it). In other words, 'If you don't like that, try this'. Maybe one relation shows how an item/ blurt is embedded in an environment/ discourse and the other how an item interacts with its environment/ discourse?
It's a problem to try and characterize the relations in any succinct form since they are obviously so broad. It's as if within these two families we have attempted to encompass all possible connecting relations. For example, under the banner of conjunction you have not only disjunction but also a kind of weak negation.
Bearing in mind some of the ambitions of the handbook, would it be any better to have (e.g.) ten more definable relations ? You would then need a very well sorted set of criteria in order to impose this on the material, and even then the material probably couldn't support it. You would end up guessing about the 'correct' application of your rigorous relations. This would hinder the 'reading-on' process.
Is there any overlap of the relations ? Is there any instance where the same item occurs under both the '&' and the '-->' for a particular entry? If it doesn't occur this would lend support to the notion that there was something like a dialectical negation functioning between the '&' and the '-->'. But not necessarily; the possibility of a blurt qualifying under both relations was always resolved in terms of a choice being made.
[page 6] Since the discourse is not complete in terms of the two relations (i.e., there are items not related) there must be presumed no overlap of either relation on the class of all items not related --that is, 'x & y', 'x --> y', 'x R y', are all independent sets. But the internal structuring or read of these 'sets' is up to the reader; you can choose how to build-up a set though the parameters of that set are somewhat unimportant .
Perhaps the '-->' has causal or teleological conditions to it, while the '&' has a temporal or spatial aspect to it. Could that mean that one functions as 'logical space' or logically, while the other functions as 'topological space' or maybe simply spatially. These could be, as it were, rather loose vectorial descriptions. For the '-->' causality might function as '...because of...' and teleology might be '...in order that...'. Cohen suggested that, in conversation, '&' implied a very definite temporal ordering --'I got out of bed and had a piss' is very different to 'l had a piss and got out of bed'. How generalizable is that notion in terms of the whole family being used here? Well, Cohen's suggestions didn't seem too useful for this. That probably was because we were constructing relations in the broadest sense possible while he was after a refined usage, obviously. So complaining that Cohen wasn't useful may be like complaining that you can't find the Earth when you have picked a microscope to look for it!
We shouldn't loose sight of the (perhaps somewhat gross) intended use of the relations; that is, to provide means of contextualizing the material. By 'contextualization' is meant that the 408 blurts are not interesting in themselves but become interesting when they are concatenated in strings, and the various ways you can do that and the various meanings a blurt might take on when concatenated (pragmatized?) in different ways. Concatenating becomes literally 'chaining together' in an order (Maybe if concatenation was the point there ought to have been only one relation?).
You can't say much about the problem of consistency; there's no sense in which it could be 'resolved'. Michael and Mel sorted out the relations; the classes of relations being intuitively defined concepts (at least the boundaries were), could we say that 'inconsistent' intuitions make the project unsatisfactory? It's a bit odd to focus on this when the concepts themselves were 'defined' by each person operationally. There may be more inconsistency within the same person at the beginning and at the completion of his sorting-out the relations than between two persons at either the beginning or completion.
There are no 'fixed' pragmatics. The scope of the reader would seem to trivialize some of the problems in the previous paragraph.
What about the problem of the implicit indexicality of each of the blurts? That is to say, these blurts are not intended to stand as objective facts about the world, but to stand as statements which were (or could be) made under particular circumstances. It's more than simply the point that the blurts were drawn out of the Annotations, more that you want to avoid any presumption of absoluteness or objectivity for those blurts or items. They are implicitly indexical, almost as if they had quotation marks around them.
You can't pin the blurts down to one context because they are subject to numerous interpretations in various concatenations, subject to different entry points etc. However, all the concatenation contexts, i.e., all the
[page 7] contexts for a given blurt, are in this 'world of discourse'. All the blurts stand as tokens of sentences, they are not explicitly assertions, utterances, nor any other pragmatical/ indexical mode, all that has become implicit. Insofar as the handbook is concerned, the blurt/tokens are no longer dependent on the pragmatical context of their production (the Annotations). The admissible pragmatic operations may be more dependent on the sorts of circumstances which were admitted during the sorting through the relations. This is transferable to the reader --i.e., what's involved in deliberating?
The abstraction of these blurts from their original context is legitimate only if we can say that the pragmatic context is irrelevant. We clearly can't. A Karl Popper blurb is distinct from Michael using the same blurb. The reader is, however --and going by the handbook, involved in a kind of 'reconstruction' of a pragmatic context, he becomes wilfully involved in re-assembling or re-embedding the blurts.
The meanings of the blurts are not meanings in the normal sense of reference but in the sense of pragmatic function. The references here 'reside' in the pragmatical context. In order for readers to give 'meaning' to a blurt they have to implicitly (at least) assert it. Thus the reference occurs in the asserting, in the reader's relation to the sentence or proposition.
There is a going notion that it isn't a sentence (token) which refers to a proposition but it is a person who refers to a proposition with a sentence. The triadic relation is something like: '(the sentence) a refers-pragmatically-to (the proposition) b in (the pragmatic context which includes also a reference to a language) c'. Hence we have no basis for assuming, for example, that 'stylized rhetorical frameworks are employed by professional art-critics' actually means that stylized rhetorical frameworks are employed by professional art-critics. That is, the latter omits the fact of the assertion being made by a particular person at a particular time and under particular circumstances.
We wouldn't allow here that statements relying on their indexicality can be replaced by non-indexical statements without a loss of information. What the handbook demonstrates is that a pragmatic context, as it is known to a speaker and which is not formulated but assumed to be tacitly understood in a communication act, need not be understood by a recipient but may be understood in various ways by various recipients.
It might be good to present users with a situation where they can make constructs themselves; programs are out. You are offering the reader a range of choices, he's got several pathways to choose from. A re you offering him a range which includes his 'most meaningful' connections ? Are you saying that you are predicting but then you are giving the reader a very open choice? What's important is how the reader sees the connection between the entries, how he chooses to follow them. What's important is that the implications are understood when you make various tracks through the blurts. That is, 'making tracks' is problematic in the same way as our own problem of how-to-go-on is problematic. You make choices between items in a list. You have to reflect on how you want to go-on. Wouldn't a reader go toward concatenated pairings
[page 8] which reinforce his or her own entrenched ideas ? No one is going to know a priori that there exist connections; they have to establish/ concatenate the pathways themselves. If we leave the questions involved in the pathways as open as possible, then I think that what we are talking about is a sequence or series, rather than a concatenation.
The problematic of the work is about the notion of proceeding, it's not about teaching our 'high' subject-matter. The handbook can't ever become unproblematic. You have a choice between regarding going-on like this as a problematic and saying that you are concerned wilfully with it remaining problematic --or, on the other hand, being paralyzed.
Learning may be getting the reader to match up with some of our problems, not just getting to know about some 'subject'. We are speaking more in terms of discovering context, causal structures, plotting courses of events. Whether the 'cognitivity' of the reader's own pragmatics is reinforced or whether some of ours rubs off is adventitious. That is, plodding through these pathways, making a range of decisions as to how to go on has probably got more to do with 'learning' than does imputing to somebody our arbitrary (I wonder) high content (?).
Getting the reader to deliberate in the way we deliberated is a bit worrying. This only means that they match our difficulty in being faced with (say) 10 possible choices/ responses to another's blurts. We had to ask 'How will I go-on?' (etc). The handbook is a projection from our nature (the Annotations), not a reconstruction of them. Who cares about accurately mirroring the plumbing of the Annotations! We simply needed a bulk of material supplying a lot of information and a multiplicity of choices. We match the Annotations in that the Annotations meant a way of working where you were constantly faced with choosing how to go on working. Your eventual choice was thereby deliberately made.
Seeing that the content of the discourse is arbitrary (this means that one set of topic-headings could be replaced by another similar set, it doesn't mean that we speak uncontrollably about anything) you don't then say there must be something here which is not arbitrary. (Viewing our situation as constantly problematic may have been informed by Popper; include Althusser too. ) This underlying thing could be the hidden mechanics of our conversations. It is obvious to me that this is also arbitrary, i.e., there's nothing special about who we are anyway. What you do is say I'm saying what I'm doing is arbitrary but I'm saying that as a definite statement, that is, not meaning that I would really wish that it were certain (no longer arbitrary).
What is interesting about the idea of an external audience was commented on by Nietzsche: when you talk to an audience who don't share your basis assumptions, your idiolect, you are constantly made aware of your own basic postulates. So conversational 'noise' turns out in some sense to be advantageous. It's advantageous in prompting us to axiomatize and formalize, assuming, of course, this is indeed advantageous? But an audience means projecting out our uncertainties. We are now a long way from the epistemological inquisition launched by us on the artworld '68-9 and which ran into real trouble around '72. Saying that all these things stay in an A & L problematic is to say that we are now grown-up enough to say we are not sure, which is just short of saying that we don't know. Falsification
[page 9] turned inward on A & L itself (it had to). In mid '72, at the onset of real trouble, we didn't use the proven rationalist method of retreating to a weaker though less refutable position, we proceeded to a stronger and more refutable position. Anomalies and inconsistencies are now a willful and forthright part of the problematic -we get back to admitting that notion of pandemonium --that's why it's still interesting that we are 'in' that art-world.
There is no symmetry between all the '&' connections. There is obviously no necessary symmetry between blurts in the '-->' listings. If 43 is linked to 51, there is no necessary link between 51 and 43. The reason is because we were concerned with forming contexts, with recontextualizing entries all the time. It's a question of sequence --it has everything to do with where you start.
Consider that the list of subject-headings perhaps isn't arbitrary, that there is some binding behind each item in the list and that there is in a sense some kind of transcending order in this particular 'world'. I may have a covert hope that this order is present, as far as cosmology is concerned, I hope it is present, but I'm much more concerned with things we can influence --never mind about intuiting mysterious order.
There is in the handbook no graspable static order that you might eventually grab hold of. The order you intuit has most to do with where you start from, the kinds of pathways you are able to set up. There is a low order except what a reader establishes. A reading list or set of sequences has nothing to do with setting up a syllabus. On the other hand, it also has nothing to do with receiving a liberal education. Are we trying to make language users? These are the sorts of questions best directed toward the various realms of knowledge called 'disciplines' . We have to take seriously the principle of adhocism which ties in with pandemonium. We are not teaching people about A & L like you teach people about chemistry. Our disformedness may be well formed. You can get a good footing even though (maybe) being wrong-footed. That is where you begin to talk about opportunism; one might begin to treat adhocism seriously as a heuristic. We have often presented formal systems but our own 'form', or parameters really, has never been formalized. This might be viewed as a deliberate avoidance --or scepticism-- of formal and projectible decision-making frameworks. This doesn't mean using adhocism, like liberalism, to get by safely in the world. It means getting adhocism to work for us. That is, this isn't a way of avoiding methodological issues but a matter of taking the bull by the horns.
Embeddedness means that the 408 blurts, plus the concatenation possibilities, constitute a problematic. You can't 'read' entries out of that problematic, that is, take no notice of pathways, indexicality, without loosing syntax (etc.), hence meaning --there are no 'basic' statements, no 'foundations'.
The notion of branching from a given point presenting us with a multiplicity of choices becomes something like the notion of an open future or different alternative futures, or branching events. As in Time Logic, you don't have to have complete determination, you have relative determination or partial ordering. In respect to having a multiplicity of ways of going-on, Rescher argues that this is not an epistemological matter inherent in
[page 10] our knowledge or ignorance of the course of events in such a world, but an ontological matter inherent in the kind of causal structure governing its 'course of events'. That's the point about not worrying too much about the content of the blurts; our epistemology here has been already decided by the content of the Annotations?
What is the status of this handbook in 'the world' including, presumably, the 'art-world' ? It's somewhat dependent on a rhetorical notion of language: it's over-robust to combat the naive-realist assertion that 'language is contingent on events' with 'events are contingent (rhetorically) on language', but it is essential right now, even as an ad hoc device, to do so --it has massive consequences for our world-view.
There is a direct relationship between remarks raised concerning the interpretation of the '-->' and the '&' and our conception of this project's function 'in the world'. There is the idea of the handbook being a kind of transformation between what we do and what an audience should do. That's another facet of the notion of librarianship --though we are adding ideology. There are some reservations but we seem to agree with Perelman's characterization of dialectical reasoning as opposed to the formal reasoning of formal logic --it's a discourse addressed to an audience. What we mean is that the status / operative tactic of handbook is important, this has nothing to do with making an audience comfortable, quite the reverse, the reader has to get up off his ass. If Andrew has his Toyota handbook it's from-the-Toyota-people-to-him; a guide. These questions translate into questions of ideology: the problem was separating technical aspects of structuring the handbook from the actual 'operation' of the handbook. What we are doing is making available these 'technical' discussions to readers so that they can get an idea about working procedures which were the reasons for these transcripts. Hopefully, the transcripts put the handbook more clearly into an A & L problematic. There's a continuity between problems of implication/ conjunction ('-->' and '&') and ideology insofar as the problem with '-->' and '&' is to make going-on a self-conscious construction/ search for pragmatics. And going-on like this is for the reader a deliberation/ learning matter. That is, the '-->' and the '&' are only interesting here as a means for making going-on a deliberate construction.
We make our working procedures visible rather than trying to represent a respectable and (seemingly) logical rational reconstruction. It should be a matter of heuristics not methodology. Methodology --following Lakatos-- is to be used only after the fact. The early research paper writings (where we 'explained' ourselves) were methodological. These essays were most often misleading since such a reconstruction bears only an idealized picture (at best) or a totally false picture (at worst) to actual A & L circumstances. What you do in writing scholarly articles is subject your hypotheses to illustration (confirmation), not doubt. You're more concerned with correctly presenting your ideas than subjecting them to doubt --look at this in the light of the way most 'art-shows' are presented. Their successful formalization depends on them being illustrations, not tests. Most people don't count this as a problem (it's questionable just how ruthless we might be about subjecting our hypotheses to doubt, it is helpful however if we consider everything as subject to alternate hyp-
[page 11] otheses and don't go about protecting 'foundations'.
No doubt we have sometimes mistakenly attributed to the meaning of a word or the analysis of a concept some feature that is more correctly regarded as a condition for the appropriateness of certain utterances involving that word or concept. In other words, where it is appropriate to use 'and' is not the same as an analyses of 'and'. So you can believe that many philosophical errors can be corrected by paying attention to the presumptions of normal conversation, that is, pragmatics. Rozeboom talks about the connectives 'however', 'therefore' (which can be replaced by the nearest extensional equivalent 'and') as dialectical. This means that their function is not to construct statements but to parse arguments. On-the-one-hand-and-on-the-other. Replacing the dialectical with 'and' we devastate the cohesion of a passage while leaving its descriptive content unaltered.
There is a split between morality and politics. The former might be what you ought to do, the latter the mode of realizing what you ought to do. The art context is political, not necessarily moral (not in this culture anyway). We do deal with our institutions --politics are important because we are embedded 'in the world', we are not a moral model. Going-on is a moral matter and not just a case of keeping our noses clean.
With the demise of essences, ideology is no longer incidental to what a thing is. Autonomy no longer holds. Can we say that art is no longer any particular formalization? How close are we to the somewhat hopeful Feyerabendian cosmological strategy: it must be possible to examine what is being expounded according to standards which are simple, commonsensical and accepted by all? Not standards internal to a subject but 'normal' moral standards ?
It's not just a matter of shuffling in fetishized areas of theoretical knowledge, philosophical logic, sociology, ethics, etc., in order to 'improve' or make more art. You've got to face the dilemma, for some of us, anyway, of art becoming relegated to an alienated activity, or, just a waste of time. (As a 'subject' it's vacuous anyway). This kind of morality is a bit grossly cosmological; anyway doesn't the notion of a well-formed ideology contradict the idea of subjecting hypotheses to ruthless doubt, of not protecting 'foundations' ? Must we see all this as dynamically related to society's 'great problems'? It's then a matter of not going-on professionally, don't keep your nose clean, don't mind your own business, and also, watch out for the avant-garde's rip-roaring subscription to the status quo.
The position in handbook is argumentational, geared to a (perhaps hopeful) dialectic. This would seem to suggest that we do seek converts, that what we do isn't just subject to contemplation, isn't just arbitrary, but is subject to action, is compelling, a question of practice. Moral questions relate to what you ought to do; if revision is taken seriously it has a direction --we have often talked about art-education. But this direction seems to be riddled with romanticism and naive about the 'honesty' of teaching.
Heuristics goes hand in glove with opportunism. This means living with the difficulties; it may have a lot to do with causing trouble. 'Causing trouble' for the avant-garde academy may have been seen as A & L projecting trouble outwards. The pandemonium notion is trouble directed inward. Recall the remark about trouble-making beginning at home. We were us-
[page 12] ing pandemonium as a paradigm for learning. In embracing uncertainty, equally 'true' but contradictory statements, the N. Y. 'thesaurus' notion related to the pandemonium/ learning stuff. N. Y. A & L comprises a matrix of a number of similar/ contradictory (etc. ) individual possibilities --it's an abrasive matrix. There is no division of labour --grandiose schemes for interdisciplinary research --N. Y. A & L is really a context for contact. Amongst the most important interactions tend to be casual ones, phone conversations and the like.
One thing to stress is that we are not after anthropological overviews, we are embedded. We have politics and we have the possibility of morality. These are supposed to be complementary, you use one to realize the other. In this society they are, however, often competing. People who are alienated from their politics favour the oddest forms of idealism. We shouldn't be alienated from the means of making our work public --galleries or magazines or whatever. We shouldn't see the support-structures as beyond our realm of effectiveness. One thing about the A & L journal was that it wasn't politically alien. But once smart essay writing itself became existentially awkward for going-on in A & L the journal had to be suspended.
The generative potential of A & L has to do with practice. Maybe it might open an area of alternate potentials for those outside of A & L. The goal isn't to convert hoards to 'theoretical art' and similar nonsense, the goal isn't stylistic. All this means is that we don't offer a model (paradigm) for people to shift to; A & L is not an object of contemplation. The handbook isn't a model either. Early A & L was trying to be compelling. What's very important now is that only the existence of an argumentation that is neither compelling nor arbitrary offers the exercise of reasonable choice. That means that A & L is neither a model nor an attempt to convert -but, importantly, a bit of both.
The notion of embedding a remark within a sequence of contradictory/ branching remarks was basic to the notion of a thesaurus. This is fairly close to the handbook notion. In trying to catch or map the topography of eight people (the Annotations) we took advantage of our context and its paradoxes / contradictions. How close are we here to the Existentialist attack on theoretical objectivity? Ian called a 'theory' of pragmatics a middlepoint or convergence between analytic philosophy and existentialism --a logic of existence? The existential concerns seem to have grown for us out of some contact with Feyerabendian pluralism or what he calls epistemological anarchy. There's a kind of near-irrationality (no foundations) which may be a life-giving device. (Is this to overlook that the handbook will appear to be very meticulous, systematic, academic ? A better description might be maniacal --the work of the mad compiler).
Discussion of the '-->' and the '&' will remain doubtful if we forget the assumptions we hold about the existential/ discursive aspects of the hand book. If you talk about the handbook as occupying the middle-ground transformational position in terms of reader behaviour, do we envisage it changing the reader's behaviour? Isn't it really a question of practice? You could say it is neither compelling nor arbitrary because it is 'dialectical'. The characterization of 'and' as a phrase-concatenating article is loose. We've ended up with semantic latitudinarianism. It's getting down to what
[page 13] we deliberate upon when we construct the handbook --'my kind of pragmatism has deliberation not opinion as its focus. It tries to see how much mileage it can get out of the fact that man is an agent' (Jeffrey). When we are constructing it we have to deliberate over the relations possible. We keep in mind that the goal is to engage a reader in a similar self-conscious construction. We won't end up with an object of contemplation. We are in a position where we can only argue, converse, produce a tool/ device --so we consider the reader --do we see the handbook in terms of a kind of shop floorishness ?
It is important, as a group, to keep on 'intensely' talking to each other. This ensures conversational interface. In some A & L work it often looks like the level of sophistication becomes obfuscating --some of the more 'obvious' things are submerged, sometimes fortunately. (The unexplicated category of 'sophistication' still comes up as one of the tools of moribund bourgeois thought). There are certain assumptions which ought to be kept obvious. In U. K. A & L sometimes there is far more objection if a set of statements lack a certain level of sophistication than if those statements show what we think is a genuine ideological vacuity. We don't want a way of going-on which makes it easy for us to conceal aspects of our pragmatics. Obviously, this is ad hoc since you've got to allow that some things are really hard to say.
The handbook is pertinent to our concerns. One of the intrinsic properties of a handbook is showing how to behave in certain situations --a guide, (getting back to the Toyota manual). We can say that the handbook is a guide to A & L proceedings as seen in the Annotations, during January -July 1973. (It could, on the other hand, be a handbook for a special kind of audience, one which shares some of our problems/ interests). The guide does not posit ontologically ultimate or unique ways of proceeding, we only say 'consider this'. So you construct going on; it's a fragment. The Morris Minor manual used to have a list of things that most commonly went wrong with this car: which-one-of-these-fits-your-facts.
We've all thought that the relations between blurts are a bit gross - that our tool might be blunted by wanting to operate within a dialectic. We haven't wanted to shout how interesting we are, we want people to deliberate and if this doesn't happen then the handbook isn't much. That's the point (though Preston and Andrew have pointed out that we may be optimistic in even expecting deliberation).
The moral problem is not an incidental problem or one subject to dandyfication where we all resist our own ideology. Look at the pandemonium notion another (Kuhnian) way: Some of our formalizations ('works') contradict, are troublesome for, the paradigmatic theories (?) of 'normal art'. These works can be labelled anomalies. Normal art relegates these anomalies to footnotes though they may in fact set the stage for completely new paradigms. Maybe we are saying that presently we are stuck with manipulating, taking advantage of, the anomalies (this situation is wilfully problematic) not moving on to 'new' paradigms.
A particular relation ('&', '-->') is syntactic insofar as it admits concatenation (Chomskyan 'grammatical sequence') and semantic insofar as it allows that concatenation meaning. But these are not parallel components
[page 14] and they cannot be treated alike. So what does it look like semantically? Prelexicality is not confronted since we don't have either a dictionary or a thesaurus here, though there are resemblances to both. The Katz/ Fodor notion of 'dictionary' assigns possible meanings to words in respect to given sentences (blurts). Plus a set of projection rules which give the semantic interpretation of the sentences. What happens with a restricted fragment of language ? Can you say that the handbook gives complete (in respect to the restricted fragment) listings ? --say by ostensive definition? That sounds odd, even if it's stated as providing empirical lists of semantically (or pragmatically) well-formed expressions, it would be hard to say it was exhaustive or 'complete'. You do get something like enumeration standing in for any / all sorts of projection or transformational rules. But it's not a dictionary anyway --and even if it did have pretensions on that level there is no reason to believe that a single dictionary could be adequate, even for such a restricted language; nor exempt from revision.
What can we say about its semantics? That it is intuitive? That no attempt has been made to construct it formally? Synonymy doesn't come up as an operational issue; the 'expression' of the handbook is more generalized than that (or more assumed). This is where Michael Baldwin's note ('The Problem of Context: Aftermath of Logical Implosion' in Frameworks Journal Vol 1 No 2, June 1973) is non sequitur. One doesn't look up something in the handbook in order to find out something, rather, it's a way of raising questions, not answering them. Raising questions about the syntactical organization of what (we think) we know. Something like a fragment of an ontology? (Of what: an ontology of a restricted fragment of language. ) It's difficult to say much about its epistemology or ( ?) intensionality. Interpretation is a matter for interpretation. The erotetic organization is synchronic. If you start off with an intuited structure and operate on intuitively held criteria, then you end up with intuitive results. There isn't anything about which you can look something up. This is circular but what happens if you start to look at it all, not as a way of sorting bits of language, but as a way of unsorting, maybe questions like reassembling. You will then be confronted with questions like 'why are these blurts connected?'; you are confronted with your own acceptance or rejection, which may be presystemic, and maybe this intentionally, and so much for that.
The price of escaping the bogs of psychologism is that you end up some place else (doing something else altogether). If you keep to where you know the roads are, you get some place, but you see less 'nature'. This would suggest that the follies of the handbook are not completely folliful, but you are left in no position to say why --that's the dilemma. Psychological bogs aren't particularly salubrious, but while you're there you might as well look about --the 'experience' needn't be all, bad.
Ian Burn, Michael Corris, Preston Heller, Andrew Menard, Mel Ramsden and Terry Smith all worked on the preceding transcripts. The rest of the material in the handbook was edited by Mel Ramsden and Michael Corris.
Leo Apostel 'Assertion Logic and Theory of Argumentation', in Philosophy and Rhetoric, 1971.
L. J. Cohen 'Some Remarks on Grice's Views About the Particles of Natural Languages', in Pragmatics of Natural Languages edited by Y. Bar-Hillel, Humanities press, N. Y., 1971.
R. Moss 'Minimum Vocabularies for Information Indexing' in the Journal of Documentation Vol 23 No 3 1967.
Rescher and Urquardt Temporal Logic, page 70 --'The Concept of an Open Future'
R. E. Vatz, 'The Myth of the Rhetorical Situation', in Philosophy and Rhetoric, Vol 6 No 3, 1973.
C. Perelman 'The New Rhetoric', in Pragmatics of Natural Languages.
M. Schagrin 'On Being Unreasonable' in Philosophy of Science Journal, March 1973.
Rozeboom in Philosophy of Science Journal, September 1973
P. Peyerabend, 'Philosophy of Science: a Subject with a Great Past' in Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science V.
R. Jeffrey 'Dracula meets Wolfman: Acceptance vs Partial Belief' in Induction, Acceptance and Rational Belief, edited by M. Swain.
H. E. Kyburg Jr, 'Conjunctivitis' in Induction, Acceptance and Rational Belief.
Y. Bar-Hillel 'Indexical Expressions' in Mind 63, 1954.
The Homepage of "Blurting in A & L online": http://blurting-in.zkm.de
"the handbook" and its "annotations"/"blurts": http://container.zkm.de/blurting/annotations.html