PRAGMATICS OF SILENCEME

PRAGMATICS OF SILENCEME

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Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay

দেবপ্রসাদ বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়

 Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata

” If Linguistics is stipulated, for the time being, as an epistemological discipline for the deployment of algocentric (a discourse that is motivated by metamathematical formalism or computational algorithmic simulation and which ignores the non-algorithmic constitutive “rules”) meta-symbolic order on the symbolic order, one may find a marginal other in Linguistics—an order of supposed non-signs.  For these non-signs, let me introduce a term: “silenceme”, which is at a time a non-sign and a sign and does not have a fixed componential meaning and thus it violates the law of excluded middle.A blank parchment with the supposed seal of Caesar, when “read” by  Antony, swayed the commoners (Julius Caesar, 3.2). In Tagore’s play, Post-office, a conspirator, out of fun, sent a blank letter to an “illiterate” boy, who was expecting king’s letter, when he was waiting for death. However, another character altogether differently interpreted that blank letter. This blankness of the white letter, then, was not interpreted as a poisonous fun, but as a “real” remedy for that boy.

When you were asking me, “What’re you doing?” I said, “Nothing.” This single word, ”nothing” , a supposed minimal “free” (Where lies the essential freedom of word? ) form, is not free at all—“nothing” ’s freedom was pervaded by “other” non-signs, nothingness, the unspoken or something unspeakable, the non-discursive sonority or unintended sounds (as in John Cage’s musical compositions or in Rauschenberg and Robert Ryman’s Minimalist paintings with almost white surfaces.)

There may be a strategic taxonomy of silenceme: cognitive silenceme, transcendental silenceme (as in case of seeking absolute silence and that is impossible!); Pathological silenceme (as in case of Foreclosure or Psychosis, the symbolic order is totally or partially rejected [instead of being repressed]; one’s Language Acquisition Device is not working  due to the outside threat and violence); Creative silenceme ( as practiced by some Buddhists by non-internalizing the outside threat and violence.);Silenceme of conspiracy (the phrase “conspiracy of silence” was often used by Marx and Engels)  etc.  Thus, spoke Sartre: being silent does not entail that I am refusing to speak but it is a mode of keeping on speaking .

What will we, the linguist community,  do with such so-called ambiguous category?  In Linguistics, what will be our agenda now? May we take Wittgenstein or John Cage seriously? Alternatively, we may ignore the silent marginal “other” space in Linguistics: the silenceme!
The act of speaking (non-silence) is constrained, appropriated, approximated by the unspeakable/ unspoken spaces—so-called blank spaces are controlling the revealed speech. These blank spaces are emitting different meanings in different situations and non-signs were endowed with the supposed sign-ness. That is the de-sign of “silenceme” as it is de-sign-ated within the sign-ness. Silenceme is not absence of speaking, but it is a subjective “perception” of absence of speaking in relation to non-speaking.
Now I am trying to understand the pragmatics of silence by deploying an Indian philosophical tool called abhava or absence. In the Nyaya-Vaiseska (henceforth NV, Indian Logic) tradition, categories are distinguished based on their presence (bhava) and absence(abhava). They considered both the existence and non-existence as categories, which are subject to the knowledge or cognition by means of generic perception.
In case of relational absence, a qualifier qualifies a qualificand and by negating it we get an “absence of that qualifier” (which is another qualifier) qualifying the same qualificand, “this silent-space X is qualified by speaking-absence Y”. On the other hand, difference referred to “this is not silence” type of negation. Thus, absence of non-speaking-ness and difference from a silence are two distinguishable sub-categories of abhava.
These blank spaces may be perceived /cognized as a category called “absence” (absence is always designated in relation to something). One could perceive absence by assigning the absential qualifier/ counterpositive to the locus of empty locus/ referend, qualificand. Thus, the absence of speaking means perceiving the dyadic relations between two constructs: speaking and non-speaking in a certain locus. There is no absolute non-speaking silent zone—all silent zones are pervaded by the non-silence and vise versa, however, when, speaking/listening subject is perceiving something as “silence” is actually cognizing “absence” of stipulated non-silence in a locus. Thus, in the terminologies of NV, the  speaking/listening subject perceives the “absence” of counterpositive (stipulated non-silence) in the locus of supposed/stipulated silence.
Pl. see ppt. at http://www.authorstream.com/Presentation/debaprasadbandyo-1934452-pragmatics-silenceme/

About Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay

Debaprasad Bandyopdhyay (b. 1965), through his 25 years journey in the realm of institutionalized academics did 27 different types of works, which are someway different from the earlier paradigms or, one might say that those works are not only mere reproductions of his inherited institutionalized cultural capital or a mimicry of a colonially imposed model that leads to intellectual anorexia or rather a type falsification of earlier paradigms. However, that might be not only a lofty claim but it also hid the fact that all our information and knowledge are socially accumulated knowledge that was, it is matter of regret, posed as private property through the sign © and the wisdom is rarely available. Bandyopadhyay’s works and projects are the products of his social milieu. Bandyopadhyay is a local sub-altern public sphere academician, who avoids the technical intelligentsia (followers of Sahib’s models and they are not committed to the persons who are accommodating surplus work-time to them by performing surplus labour) or inorganic intellectuals and thus fails to be a part of academic tribe and its subsequent socialization process. Of course, that socialization process does not lead to legendary Socratic dialogue. He is also a political activist though he has not affiliated to any political parties as he was always talking about the corporatization of political parties within the money-sign-based democratic system. He is a regular participant in TV and radio talk-shows and documentary films, street-corners’ talks and International seminars on socio-political, psychological, linguistic, environmental and economic issues. He also writes editorial columns in newspapers. He is also a part of parallel academics as it is found in West Bengal’s Little Magazine Movement, though that was not counted as the part his academic pursuit by his parent institute. His parent institute justifiably does not believe in the domain of parallel academics as this unorganized sector does not directly contribute in the transactions of formal/organized print capitalist eco-enemy paper-publication. Though the dissemination of knowledge is also observed in this space of these parallel academics as all these writings in public sphere simultaneously influence the classroom-discourse and some of them are translated into English, French and Italian. Not only that, Bandyopadhyay also sought engagement with the people, who, by supplying their surplus labour, are sustaining his livelihood. Bandyopadhyay, a linguist by training and a Ph.D.-holder (1996), a junior lecturer (1999-2011) in an autonomous central government institute in India, tries his best for those from he has received and is receiving the manifestation of surplus labour by executing some self-funded projects on economic issues in West Bengal, India. Recently he has got a consolation promotion to the post of Assistant Professor. He has done following 27 research works: 1. Crippled Creativity: An inquiry into language, psyche, society: 2. VALENCY OF BANGLA VERB AND PROBLEM OF COMPOUND VERBS: 3. Archaeology of Bangla Grammar : 4. CAN COMPUTER SPEAK? 5. FUZZY LOGICAL EXPRESSION IN BANGLA : 6. FOLKLORE AND FOLK-LANGUAGE: MYTH OR REALITY? 7. HISTORICISM IN THE DISCOURSE OF BANGLA LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE 8. ABHABA, ECP, DELETION AND TRACE 9. SVATVA OR MY-NESS AND ECONOMIC ENTITLEMEMT 10. TRANSLATION STUDIES 11. MASCULINITY STUDIES 12. YAYATI & BABAR COMPLEX 13. SOCIO-ECONOMIC SURVEYS IN AGRICULTURE AND INDUSTRY IN WEST BENGAL 14. CONCEPT OF BODY IN INDIAN PHILOSOPHY AND ARCHITECTURE 15. THE CONCEPT OF ERROR (KHYATI) IN MAD-(WO)MEN’S LANGUAGE 16. THE CONCEPT OF PERCEPTUAL TIME AND GRAMMATICAL TIME IN BANGLA 17. BANGLA CALLIGRAPHY, LANGUAGE ART AND LINGUISTIC PEDAGOGY 18. WO(L)D SPACES: NON-EXISTENCE OF WORDS 19. ANEKANTA METHODS 20. SILENCEME: SILENT OTHER IN LINGUISTICS 21. IMAGINED BOUDARIES AND PRE-COLONIAL INDIAN IMAGI-NATION 22. MAKING OF THE INDIAN PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE 23. SEGMENTING THE SUPRASEGMENTALS : MUSICKING IN SPEAKING 24. INTERPRETING GENETIC STRUCTURE BY DEPLOYING LINGUISTIC STRUCTURE 25. GLOTTOPOLITICS OF LINGUISTIC SUBALTERNITY OR AN AGENDA FOR PLANNING FROM BELOW 26. SEMIOTICS OF PHOTOGRAPHY 27. SOCIOLOGY OF CONTEMPORARY ACADEMICS
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