Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Motionless Question

The hand may be too rough an instrument to measure the space between the abstractness of a posing of the question and the concreteness of a posing of the question.

Our results show that nearly identical patterns of left hemisphere activity are present while deaf signers generate verbs (compared to repetition of nouns) independently with their right (dominant) and left (nondominant) hands. The pattern of activation observed under these conditions is consistent with patterns reported for spoken languages. Importantly, the present data concur with delineation of functions within the left frontal region related to lexical–semantic, phonological, and search and retrieval processes. The results also provide important evidence for a nonmotoric role of the right lateral cerebellum activation during a language task, as well as additional support for a cerebellar contribution to cognitive behaviors. The data indicate activation of the left ventral fusiform, a region typically associated with form properties of written words. These data suggest this region may be responsive to visual properties of word forms that are not strictly tied to written languages. Finally, the patterns of activity observed in this study are more consistent with studies of linguistic processing rather than movement execution and perception.

In summary, these data indicate that linguistic–semantic processing relies upon left-hemisphere regions regardless of the modality in which a language is realized and that linguistic programming of non-dominant-hand use in signing arises from the same left-hemisphere regions responsible for dominant-hand use. These data provide new insights into the characterization of the neural systems underlying human languages and the articulatory motor system characteristic of signed languages of the deaf.

—Corina et al., "Language Lateralization in a Bimanual Language," Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, Vol. 15, Issue 5 (2003), pp. 718-730.

Does making a gesture towards speech in the throat feel like gesturing with the hand? I'm grasping. I must slowly come to grips with the possibility that the question has precious little to do with movement, or that it resides so deeply in the phenomena of surfaces that it must be understood as a superficial.

Imagine the motionless question, if you will. It is a question without style, destined to a perdurance—anything as existential as a per-durance of the motionless question would open an aporia, one that we will pass over for the moment, for the even the motionless question exists here in the nowish, be it irreal and provisional, existing so nonetheless—outside of speech, or, better, indifferent to speech, indifferent to expression. There is no enthusiasm for the motionless question. One simply doesn't approach it that way, the way of for. It is cold, yet curiously it corresponds to a resonance, a flow of blood. It itself doesn't inhabit space, but occupies space (or its simulacrum, a parallel spatiality).

Does one properly ask the motionless question? Does the motionless question transcend asking? Does it follow asking like a shadow?

The motionless question, unlike other objects of linguistic study, cannot directly coincide with its saying, better, its implementation. Indirectly, and most paradoxically, it exposes a hereness of the question. Does the moving question, the question in the hand, have this very same hereness? Is there any hereness besides existential hereness, hereness that is?

Could the hereness of the motionless question approach the absolute? To be a question it must have space for answers, must have answers wrapped inside it, and at the same time open itself to other heres, unforeseen heres of answerability, a cunicular substratum of response—how could the motionless question possibly be involved in a movement from one here to another here? If there is only one here given with the motionless question there is no space for answers, and "additionally," no space for motionlessness. Everything is crowded out except its own motionlessness. If the motionless question is without place there is no gap between it and the concrete question in the hand. It becomes any question and every question. It loses its sense of being the motionless question.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 11:10 AM.


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