Tuesday, August 18, 2009

RTB is Eating his Words

Wiggins, S., J. Potter, et al. (2001). "Eating your words: Discursive psychology and the reconstruction of eating practices." Journal of health psychology 6(1): 5.

I'm guessing that the newly-minted associate professor (heretofore referred to as the NMAP) had us read this article for practical purposes: two doctoral students carrying out research write a paper with their discourse analysis professor...we'll likely discuss quality and clarity of flow, choice of transcription scheme (I hope to high heaven that the NMAP or her minion** have some alternate schemes to show us, because I'm not enamored with the one here), etc. I'm certain we'll talk about how a discourse analysis was able to enearth some complex dynamics about speech acts and food acts that a quantitative study could never discover on the best of days. I'm sure that the NMAP had her reasons for picking this article over others, and it is a very interesting concept indeed.

Perhaps a little too interesting.

The whole juxtaposition of speech acts and eating sent me back almost 15 years (has it really been that long?) to a course on Psychoanalysis in Literature that I took with Esther Rashkin. Hands down one of the most fascinating courses I have ever taken...Dr. Rashkin is hardcore, which makes for an excellent professor. Heavens, I could go on for pages about the discussions had about TNG episodes, Poe, etc., but you can get a small taste of the experience by simply reading her two books:

We waded through Freud, Lacan, Ferenczi and a host of others, but I most remember Dr. Rashkin's discussions of Abraham and Torok's L'écorce et le noyau (that's The shell and the kernel: renewals of psychoanalysis for those of you who have not yet acquired the celestial language) and specifically the chapter entitled "Mourning or melancholia: Introjection versus incorporation." Don't worry, I wouldn't dare attempt to resume any of this for you...go read it yourself if you want. But from these readings we were invited to read and watch Babette's Feast and write a psychoanalytical paper drawing from the text and/or film. That exercise was exciting on the front end, and almost laughable in retrospect. But the analysis she shared with us after our feeble attempts was truly amazing, and actually make up Chapter 1 of her 2008 book, which you can read in its nascent form here in Style. The Wiggins article made me flashback to a conversation that reads something like this point in Rashkin's Babette article:

"Abraham and Torok's idea that the literal ingestion of food can function as a figure of the introjective process specific to nonpathological mourning also seems highly pertinent since the transformation of loss into speech in Dinesen's story occurs following the consumption of a feast."

The point of all of this beyond subjecting you to my stream of consciousness? Well, if anyone pursues any of this in their COPIOUS amounts of free time, they'll be intructed and delighted. As for the reflexive moment here...well, I doubt I am voiding myself of potential unintended analytical "lenses", but at least I'm making myself aware of the ones I have, right?

Anyway, once I left the trip down memory lane, I came across a couple of things that might interest / made me stop. I was looking up some of the articles that Wiggins et. al. cite to debunk traditional, quantitative methodology in regards to eating practices/attitudes, and I had to giggle a bit, because at least one of the articles has a Technorati-esque "citation-roll" that proudly displays that it is cited by the Wiggins article! I guess any kind of publicity really is good publicity....

Oh, and I found this on Skribd (It's Sage...it must be good...but I suspect it won't be there long...because this strikes me as being a tad bit on the shady side of shady):

Conversation Analysis & Discourse Analysis

**The minion should know by know that I respect her (and the NMAP) too much to call her "the assistant", and I can't very well call her by her first name (don't want RTS and FB folk confusing her for my bien aimée, and she may not wish to have ID traces here, frankly). I've never understood why minion is taken so pejoratively...it originated as a term for protégés, especially those of a monarch. "Henchman" or "lackey" really aren't synonyms (although you'll find dictionaries that claim they are), because even if minions are of subordinate rank to their patrons they are likely to be of noble birth or to be raised to the nobility, and are more companions and confidants to monarchs than servants or bodyguards. So "minion" she is...