11. Juxtaposing realities: paroussia and allegorical othering


So far, my story on the dialogic has touched upon two ethnographic realities: theory and culture, dialogism and dialogical singing. In relating these realities, I have made it clear that neither one interests me exclusively so as to focus on it in particular. By telling a story on the dialogic, I am aware of the fact that what I am actually doing is first and foremost engaging myself in an act of relating, which is focused on the theme of the dialogic, and which, in turn, is oriented toward an ethnographic perspective. Thus, I shall not attempt to synthesize the two realities presented in the course of this story telling; the part on the theory of dialogical anthropology and the part on the two cultural cases of dialogical singing. I take them to be two distinct realities. In saying “distinct,” I do not mean that their distinctiveness emerges from their independent existence as either cultural, theoretical or, in fact, ethnographic entities. Culture and theory presented in the course of the story on the dialogic are distinct realities simply because they are manifestations of the act of relating. As I said, I shall not try to synthesize the two parts in a coherent whole. Were I to do so, I would violate the realities of relating as such, for the purpose of telling this story is not to arrive at an ethnographic synthesis of theory and culture through dialogical singing, but to render a story on the dialogic through the ethnographic but not bound by it. Locating ethnographic instances of particular usages of the dialogic in culture and theory were important phases in the course of relating the story on the dialogic. Yet the dialogics of culture and the dialogics of theory focused on culture are not the same --or may, in any way, be the same-- with the dialogics of relating a story, my story, this story in this text. If a synthesis of culture and theory is not possible on the level of either culture or theory, then a synthesis of these two realities can be made --and was in fact made-- in the course of their presentation as stories on the dialogic, referring to culture and theory, through juxtaposition. Put concisely: this story is a story on the dialogic. As an act of relating, this story builds itself through other stories. Such other stories are the stories concerning the dialogic as an ethnographic construct in regards with culture and theory. These two stories are brought together as a synthesis of relating, whereby the synthesizing modality performs the synthesis as juxtaposition. The narrated realities of the dialogic in culture and theory are juxtaposed in the course of the narrative synthesis of the story on the dialogic.           

This perspective raises a whole set of new questions, of which I shall try to pose a few, what I think are most urgent in terms of clarity and possible in regards with the temporal and spatial restrictions bounding the present act of story telling. One fundamental question concerns the modalities of the dialogic and the monologic. The way they were presented in the course of the story on the dialogic implies that their relationship is one of structural distinction and opposition. Although such an antithesis in meaning is linguistically justified, and theoretically as well as culturally applicable, it raises serious objections when used in the context of storytelling. For in order that a story is told in a coherent way, a certain kind of synthesis of the related parts must be effected, regardless of whether this synthesis is based on other syntheses or simply juxtapositions. The process of synthesis though, is intertwined with the subjectivity of the person who realizes it: the performer of story telling. Speaking in terms of logos, such a subjectivity in relating, governing relating as synthesizing, is, by definition, a monological modality. To say that the relating synthesis is monological, whereas the juxtaposition of the realities to be synthesized is dialogical, does justice to the analysis of the case in point but leaves us with further questions regarding the dynamics of juxtaposition and synthesis, on the one hand, and the dynamics of the encounter of the monologic with the dialogic through narrating on the other.

            The monological synthesis of a story is based on the dialogical juxtaposition of other stories which comprise, as parts, the story as a whole. This is another manifestation of the “unity in multiplicity” relational framework in storytelling. Moving now away from what may appear to be as general explorations into the act of relating as such, let me return to the particular story that I have set to narrate here. My story on the dialogic helps to modify the relating modality of monological-synthesis-as-dialogical-juxtaposition through its dimension of “allegorical othering.”  If the multivocality of allegory is considered as a result of othering, then using allegory in the act of relating a story on the dialogic implies certain modifications in the dynamics of the relating modality of monological-synthesis-as-dialogical-juxtaposition. As a story teller, I am aware of the fact that I am telling a story about a particular subject, the dialogic. In so doing, I know that my narrative is a monological synthesis based on juxtapositions of other stories on the dialogic. By employing allegory as an othering modality in relating, I need to turn my attention on the stream of consciousness that moves from the dialogic to the monologic and then returns to the dialogic as an open possibility: as a contingency, to be revisited through another act of relating.

I shall end my story with a reflection on allegorical othering in association with dialogical singing. I shall focus in particular on the paroussia of the Olymbos ghlendi. This notion constitutes a paradigmatic expression of cultural dialogics in Greece. As a unique modality of dialogical singing, paroussia has served as a symbolic reference in the other stories concerning dialogical singing in Plomari, as well as the authoritative instance of staging the dialogical as a monological performance in Skala. What the logos of paroussia has in common with the logos of allegorical othering is that they are both monological expressions of dialogical modalities. Paroussia is an intersubjective reality performed in the context of the ghlendi through dialogical singing. On the other hand, allegorical othering involves bringing together, as a symbolic modality, various realities of relating. Both paroussia and allegorical othering help to define the dialogic through the monologic in culture and narrative, respectively. Realizations and assessments performed in the paroussia of the ghlendi can be contested only in the context of another paroussia. This practice is the result of what I see as the monological authority of the paroussia, even though its performative structure is dialogical. Yet in this case, what is considered as mono-logical refers to an extraordinary reality: “the unity in multiplicity” experience defining the paroussia. Thus the monological modality of the paroussia as social authority is not to be fused and confused with the monological modalities of other ordinary realities of being-in-the world. On the other hand, allegorical othering is a technique of relating a story, which helps to create an allegorical universe of multiple realities. But othering in this respect does not limit itself to othering other realities; it extends its activity to its own subjectivity; to its monological modality as an act of relating. Such a conscious self-othering action in the course of relating a story in allegorical terms helps to control and, eventually, annihilate the emergent authority of the Self as a relating subject in the discussion of the Other.

Dialogical singing, dialogical ethnography and stories on the dialogic are different expressions of the dialogical principle.  What is less obvious though about these realities is their monological particularities. One thing should be remembered: the monologics of any reality does not correspond to the monologics of any other reality, and the same applies to their dialogics. Correlating the logics of the realities in question as relationships of singing, theory and storytelling is meaningless. Only if they are considered as total entities, as logics bearing their own modalities of relating the encounter of the monologic with the dialogic, the realities of culture, theory and storytelling can come together through a synthesis of juxtaposition that itself is a manifestation of the extraordinary reality of “unity in multiplicity”.

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