Friday, January 27, 2006

Thivai Abhor: Why Dialogic, A Two Year Reflection

This month marks the second year I have been writing/posting on this blog. It started because I was frustrated that I could not find anyone in my community to talk to about these issues. It quickly evolved into a place where I could archive my current research and interests (aided by blogger's handy search functions).

Within the year while working with students I recognized that most of us have a hard time keeping track of the waves of information knocking us about, many of them, like me, felt adrift, without a paddle, or any clue of where a coastline might be found. So, I started the long list of links to map out what websites I believed were important to know (no doubt reflecting my politics/beliefs). At the same time I'm an advocate of the mystical power of the intellectual derive (as I am of physical derives) whereby one should browse and find things through happenstance--thus the lack of clear organization of the links. Here they are, take a chance, click on one (or two, or three, or ...).

Recently because of my constant roaming online and by not giving up on the physical world (as well as my good fortune to have gotten a job in a healthy work environment that connects me to active thinkers) I have made those connections I felt i didn't have two years ago. I started to wonder whether I really needed to keep this forum operating, but you know it still serves all of the purposes it originally did. It helps me to connect with people/ideas from distant places, it helps me to keep track of my interests/research and it connects me to actual events in my own community.

So I'm still at it... I want to thank those that have joined in on the dialogue.


Michael aka Thivai

PS Below is my original post on this site--Bakhtin spoke to what I was worried about two years ago and why I started Dialogic:

Monologism at its extreme denies the existence outside itself of another consciousness with equal rights and equal responsibilities, another I with equal rights (thou). With a monologic approach…another person remains wholly and merely an object of consciousness, and not another consciousness. No response is expected from it that could change everything in the world of my consciousness. Monologue is finalized and deaf to the other's response, does not expect it and does not acknowledge in it any decisive force. Monologue manages without the other, and therefore to some degree materializes all reality. Monologue pretends to be the ultimate word. It closes down the represented world and represented persons. (Bakhtin: 292-93)

The dialogic nature of consciousness. The dialogic nature of human life itself. The single adequate form for verbally expressing authentic human life is the open- ended dialogue. Life by its very nature is dialogic. To live means to participate in dialogue: to ask questions, to heed, to respond, to agree, and so forth. In this dialogue a person participates wholly and throughout his whole life: with his eyes, lips, hands, soul, spirit, with his whole body and deeds. He invests his entire self in discourse, and this discourse enters into the dialogic fabric of human life, into the world symposium. (Bakhtin: 293)

Bakhtin, Mikhail M. Problems of Dostoyesky’s Poetics. ed. and trans. Caryl Emerson. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota P, 1984.

This quote by the great Russian writer/critic Mikhail Bakhtin inspires me to listen to 'other' discourses in order to re-view my understanding of the world. I've started this blog as an attempt to map out what I am hearing/reading/seeing in an open-ended re-imagining of the world. Hopefully it won't remain a monlogue for long...


Anonymous said...



Michael said...

Abby has known me since I was a 16 year old punk in California.

The first night we met we partied our asses off and he gave me a ride home on the handle bars of his bike and I was so out of it I flipped backwards and chipped his tooth with my foot ;)

Now I teach college and Abby is an executive in the corporate world--ha!!!!!

I'm glad we are still friends!

Susannity said...

You have a wonderful blog that I have enjoyed reading for more than a year. I'm glad you're still publishing. =)
Happy Anniversary!

marlonlamar said...

It's me again, just browsing. It is very hard find intellectual conversation in my own small circle or associates. I don't know many people that watch the news or have an clue as it concerns current global events and information. Although, much of this information effects us all in one way or another. Constantly stewing in my own thoughts and ideas becomes tiresome. Blogging is an outlet and reading various blogs, like yours allows me to connect with others around the world. I enjoy visiting your site hope to read many more of your publishings.

Mad Mike said...

Thank you for the time and effort you have put into your creation.
I hope it contiues for a long time to come.

weltatem said...

I read your blog almost every day thivai - I hope it has been as rewarding for you as it has for those of us reading and engaging with you. Thanks, and congratulations!

Michael said...

Thanks everyone for your kind responses.

Ricia, as a Californian I was completely alienated when I first moved here (we may be Americans, but we are very different peoples)... I wanted nothing more than to escape this place, but you know maybe we end up where we do because that is where we can do the most good. So a "growth" moment for me was when I decided to quit complaining and start working to make life better.


I have definitely felt rewarded by the dialogues that have arisen from this site.

Once again thanks everyone!

Michael said...


It can't hurt being next to one of the most beautiful places in the world (Banff and its surrounding parks)

Yes, I have often held onto the precipice by my fingertips saying "this will (hopefully) pass" ;)

The package I sent you had to be repackaged by the post office--hopefully it will arrive safely (I guess I look suspicious) I had it already to go safely packaged and post office was like, "oh no, it is going to Canada. It can't be sent in this box." Strange?

Michael said...

Ricia, thanks I needed that :)

If you do not get to those beautiful mountains this spring/summer I will fly up there and drive you there... one trip to those places would melt away all the anguish of your day, of course there is the pesky park fee, but I think its for the whole year.

Seriously, I was experiencing some of the worse times (personally) when I went there and I would just lose myself there... unbelievably beautiful, I thought I knew natural wonders having grown up on the coasts of California/Oregon, working in the Grand Canyon, and journeying through Eastern Utah's canyonlands... and it was clean and not crowded (relatively speaking for a place like that--see aforementioned Grand Canyon and Yosemite)

Let me know when you watch the films I sent becuase I haven't seen 2/3s of them--I would like to compare notes and exchange ideas about them (I have this big backlog of films becuase I'm teaching film classes and the scheduling for the Bluegrass Film Society, but if you let me know I will pull those out and watch them)

How did I know which films would appeal to you. I mapped out carefully your posts at your two blogs, assessed your comments here, listened carefully to the music you sent, added a couple of assumptions and sprinkled in some fantasies... voila...

Michael said...

You did a great job with the music and you correctly guessed that I'm eclectic in my tastes and you were aided by the fact that I like "new" music that I have never heard (including songs sung in different languages that I don't understand)

I like music and I have turned my office computer (which the college supplied with Harmon Karmon speakers!) into a massive jukebox. I'm putting all of my music on it and so far there is something like 70 hours of music on it.

With recorded music I like listening to a series of songs by different bands--as opposed to the same band playing a series of their songs (live is a different situation--show me the band that can kick out a long, smoking set that leaves me exhausted from the ecstasy of moving to their beat and so satisfied that i would want no other ;)

Why do I get to teach the courses I do? I just imagine the courses, research what is out there, and propose the course--I'm blessed with a great department and a great administrative bureaucracy (how many times do you hear that about academia?--which makes up for the fact that we are comparatively low on the pay scales--although it is cheaper to live here as compared to other places)

I entered grad school with a desire to teach about the many ways we could learn about the world and the great many voices that are out there... the first classes I taught were cultural studies courses during my MA, and then Rhetoric/Composition courses for my Ph'D. Along with natural eclectic inclinations, an alternative mindset, and a questing nature--these courses quickly evolved around issues of individual responsibility/agency, human rights issues, social justice/movements, and alternative media. I see no reason to stop, because I truly believe that these are important issues that are ignored by American education.

Did I tell you what books I am using in my Rhet/Comp courses this semester?:

Reading and Writing for Civic Literacy

50 American Revolutions You're Not Supposed to Know

The Botany of Desire

Even though I am off for the summer, I requested to teach a short 6 week course because I want the ability to teach an individual course using a combination of these books:

Letters From Young Activists

Global Values 101

and I'm researching how to teach about a course on contemporary social movements

In all of these courses I think what helps is that I am very "interested" and "accepting" of different viewpoints. My emphasis is on the students developing their own perspective and I do not want to indocrinate anyone. At the same time I am upfront about my left politics, the perspective of my sources, and I simply ask "all" of my students to question their sources of information and to attempt to think in different ways (as hard for me as them--and I let them see me when I am uncertain, confused or troubled--I am not the impassive, all-seeing intellectual... I'm just a fellow-traveler)
So are you saying that as a local you have never gone up into those beautiful parks? I can understand, if so--I probably learned more about the West Coast of the U.S. returning as a distant visitor than I did when I grew up there.

I have suggestions of places to check out if you want?

As for the last comment... you do know I want to come up that way? :)

If you have a digital take some photos on your trip--I dream about it still!