Monday, April 20, 2009

The Life of an Idea

The idea lives not in one person's isolated individual consciousness--if it remains there only, it degenerates and dies. The idea begins to live, that is, to take shape, to develop, to find and renew its verbal expression, to give birth to new ideas, only when it enters into genuine dialogic relationships with other ideas, with the ideas of others. Human thought becomes genuine thought, that is, an idea, only under conditions of living contact with another and alien thought, a thought embodied in someone else's voice, that is, in someone else's consciousness expressed in discourse. At that point of contact between voice-consciousnesses the idea is born and lives. (M.M. Bakhtin, Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics; trans. Caryl Emerson; italics original)

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