The metaphysical dimension of dialogicity: Bakhtin’s speech types and Dostoevsky’s poetics of the gaze

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Abstract

In this essay, a theoretical connection is posited between the “third type” of word in Mikhail Bakhtin’s typology of discourse, and the phenomenological gaze as defined by Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Starting from an aesthetic definition of perception, originating in Charles Baudelaire’s “Salon” series on art, the essay goes on to claim that in Dostoevsky’s works, Bakhtin uncovered the representation of the process of perception, encapsulated in the representation of “the word” (slovo) as a function of the unconscious processes of language. In Dostoevsky’s poetics, this represented word is the word in the stream-of-consciousness of his fictional characters which defines the embedded narrative structure of the polyphonic novel. However, Dostoevsky’s dialogic word, as described by Bakhtin, is an on-stage embodiment of dialogicity in the communication situation. This dialogic word transcends the structural dimension of narrative. The point of view, which Bakhtin describes as the entire mental orientedness («цeльнaя дуxoвнaя уcтaнoвкa») of the speaker, belongs to the phenomenology of “the gaze,” which is outlined in aesthetics and poststructural (psychoanalytic) theory as the salient feature of representation in the art and literature of modernity
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-91
Number of pages16
JournalThe Dostoevsky Journal: an independent review
Volume17
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Keywords

  • dialogicity as intertextuality
  • the gaze
  • subject of power
  • subject of ideology
  • segregation or separation
  • Kantian aesthetics

Cite this

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title = "The metaphysical dimension of dialogicity: Bakhtin’s speech types and Dostoevsky’s poetics of the gaze",
abstract = "In this essay, a theoretical connection is posited between the “third type” of word in Mikhail Bakhtin’s typology of discourse, and the phenomenological gaze as defined by Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Starting from an aesthetic definition of perception, originating in Charles Baudelaire’s “Salon” series on art, the essay goes on to claim that in Dostoevsky’s works, Bakhtin uncovered the representation of the process of perception, encapsulated in the representation of “the word” (slovo) as a function of the unconscious processes of language. In Dostoevsky’s poetics, this represented word is the word in the stream-of-consciousness of his fictional characters which defines the embedded narrative structure of the polyphonic novel. However, Dostoevsky’s dialogic word, as described by Bakhtin, is an on-stage embodiment of dialogicity in the communication situation. This dialogic word transcends the structural dimension of narrative. The point of view, which Bakhtin describes as the entire mental orientedness («цeльнaя дуxoвнaя уcтaнoвкa») of the speaker, belongs to the phenomenology of “the gaze,” which is outlined in aesthetics and poststructural (psychoanalytic) theory as the salient feature of representation in the art and literature of modernity",
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