Tesugen

Bricolage

Daniel Chandler quotes, in Semiotics for Beginners, anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, from his book The Savage Mind:

I am reminded here of an observation by … Lévi-Strauss that in the case of what he called bricolage, the process of creating something is not a matter of the calculated choice and use of whatever materials are technically best-adapted to a clearly predetermined purpose, but rather it involves a “dialogue with the materials and means of execution” [emphasis mine] …. In such a dialogue, the materials which are ready-to-hand may (as we say) “suggest” adaptive courses of action, and the initial aim may be modified. Consequently, such acts of creation are not purely instrumental: the bricoleur ””speaks” not only with things… but also through the medium of things”…: the use of the medium can be expressive [emphasis mine].

Lévi-Strauss, Chandler writes, said this in the context of “mythical thought”, but Chandler says “that bricolage can be involved in the use of any medium.” He continues:

The act of writing, for instance, may be shaped not only by the writer’s conscious purposes but also by features of the media involved—such as the kind of language and writing tools used—as well as by the social and psychological processes of mediation involved. Any “resistance” offered by the writer’s materials can be an intrinsic part of the process of writing.

I guess that genre, as well, can be said to be part of this: that writing is shaped by whatever genre is “used.” Chandler continues:

However, not every writer acts or feels like a bricoleur. Individuals differ strikingly in their responses to the notion of media transformation. They range from those who insist that they are in total control of the media which they “use” to those who experience a profound sense of being shaped by the media which “use” them….

The above was posted to my personal weblog on August 31, 2003. My name is Peter Lindberg and I am a thirtysomething software developer and dad living in Stockholm, Sweden. Here, you’ll find posts in English and Swedish about whatever happens to interest me for the moment.

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