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Frank Macke “Intrapersonal Communicology”

December 5, 2013 Leave a comment

Macke, Frank 2008. Intrapersonal Communicology: Reflection, Reflexivity, and Relational Consciousness in Embodied Subjectivity. Atlantic Journal of Communication 16: 122-148.

Communicology, having emerged from phenomenology, semiotics, and the classical rhetorical tradition, as well as systems theory, adopts a post-Cartesian approach to both language and consciousness (Lanigan, 1988, 1992). The notion of intersubjectivity, as explicated in both Husserlian and existential phenomenology, serves as a critical instrument in the correction of the Cartesian error regarding consciousness, body, and mind (Dillon, 1997, pp. 113–128). For communicology, neither “messages” nor “mind” are things. As such, a communicological approach to the event of intrapersonal communication will begin from the premise that the experience of a message is intersubjective and that it does not constitute independent data processed through the mechanism of mind. (124)

Interpersonal communication is marked by a relationship of two persons, group communication is marked by the presence of three or more persons, and cultural communication is marked by the presence of two or more groups. The concept of intrapersonal communication, however, is verified through a standard metaphysical judgment. For instance, none of us can remember what we were thinking the first time we uttered the word no, but we nevertheless can speak about this communicative moment as one in which we were able to imagine (or cognize, if you will) an alternative to the reality given to us in the social parameters of our young experience. (126)

It is not that the event of communication is always—or even mostly—pleasant; it is that the self-acknowledgment of one’s having communicated is simultaneously an affirmation of one’s fundamental attachment to a meaningful other and, hence, a meaningful world. To be in communication is etymologically consonant with being in communion, with feeling in common. (126)

The gap between thought and emotion is, in the case of intrapersonal communicology, capable of being understood as the distance felt between the inner, secreted subjectivity of the person impulsively seeking a secure attachment to the world and the social identity, the named persona of the visible Self. (127)

Again, it consists of at least two parts: a socially referenced, “named” object (the “me”) and the subjective, intentional, conative component (the “I”). The two parts exist in tension with one another. The “I” seeks its recognition in interaction—which is also to say that is seeks a difference in “me.” When we are infants, the “I” is phenomenally and pragmatically inseparable from the “me,” especially inasmuch as the capacity for recognizing the self as object cannot emerge until the completion of what Lacan has aptly termed the “mirror phase.” As we get older, the “I” takes on a critical role with respect to the signature of Self. With regard to the signature itself, neither the “I” nor the “me” can be cited as its fundamental author, but the “I” recognizes that the signature can be altered. (128)

For communicology, it is not axiomatic that “you cannot not communicate.” Information transfer does not automatically give birth to communicative experience. The experience of communication is not a mechanical or logically reductive matter of sign production and sign processing. Even though semiotic theory has participated heavily in the intellectual history of the human science of communicology, a strictly semiotic approach to the event of communicative experience will drain the event of all psychological significance. (132)

The phenomenology of embodied meaning is neither reducible to neurochemistry or biology nor a necessary function of any logic of symbolic forms. The phenomenology of the communicative moment reveals a sudden coincidence and novel combination of feeling and thought. Perhaps the word mistake expresses more than is necessary; in any case, the moment begins in an absence of certitude. It begins as speculation—or, better, as conjecture: literally, as something “thrown together.” (133)

Contact, in Jakobson’s thinking, is not something we “do” or “perform.” Contact is the human vulnerability of our being-at-all. Although the typical instances of phatic communion (such as “uh-huh,” “I see,” “go on”) illustrate the addressee’s participation in sustaining the life of the interaction, they also illustrate that an encounter could cease or mutate at any juncture. In moments of intrapersonal communication, the “I’s” relation to the “me,” having been sedimented in the context of perceptual habit, is ruptured. A way of seeing has been momentarily discontinued. A new way of sensing has begun. (136)

[…] “the human” is the fundamental experiential context in which communication and thinking can occur at all. Simply, “the human being” over and above its other mammalian traits is an attached creature. To the extent it gains its biological survival through means other than caring contact by adult members of its species, it ceases to be human to that very degree. Not just infants, but children up through their teens are tremendously dependent beings (Blos, 1962). The narrative context of selfhood through this period is, thus, always experienced in terms of an ego (and a “me”) recognized through an epistemology of discipline. (To wit: the “delinquent” is always a case of arrested development inasmuch as he or she is, by literal definition, “something left behind, left undone.”) When the “I” wanders into its own otherness, it defies its epistemology of stability via the logic of dependency. That into which it wanders is anxiety. (139)

Our being is an entirely relational being; it is experienced as a matter of flesh, and in saying that, what I am accentuating is that we are our connectedness: our contact and attachment. The wandering of the “I” is not animated by idle curiosities. The wandering of the “I” is motivated by appetite. Perception is an appropriative and consumptive act—one might say ouroboric—but an activity that entails “sensing-in” the world. Sensing-in, breathing, and expressing-out: The wandering “I” is a hungry “I.” (142)