“The place of philosophy. It begins where exact scientificity

ends and heteroscientificity begins”.

“Nothing is absolutely dead:

every meaning will have its resurrection”.

(M. Bakhtin, “Toward a methodology of human sciences”, 1974)



In his conversation in 1973 with Viktor Duvakin, Bakhtin says:

Marija Veniaminovna Judina was an absolutely unofficial person. Anything official was a burden for her. The same for myself. Neither can I suffer that which is official.

Bakhtin, an unofficial person: with respect to official, public circles, from another circle, tending towards unofficialness even before his arrest and conviction; and precisely because of this, capable of proceeding in his voyage of reflection and writing, during the many long years of total extromission from the culture of his time.

In the last note of “Notes Made in 1970-71” (Bakhtin 1979, Eng. trans. 1987, p. 155), Bakhtin outlines an introduction that anticipates a collection of his texts from various phases in his research and writing. He was working at this volume (Voprosy literature i estetiki, 1975) just before his death. In the last note he declares the following:

The collection of my essays is unified by one theme in various stages of its development.

The unity of the emerging (developing) idea […] In these works there is much external incompleteness, open-endedness, that is, an open-endedness not of the idea itself but of its expression and exposition. Sometimes it is difficult to separate one open-endedness from another. My love for variations and for diversity of terms for a single phenomenon. The multiplicity of focuses. Bringing distant things closer without indicating the intermediate links.

In Bakhtin’s works “the theme in various stages of its development”, or “the emerging idea” is the notion of chronotope. This idea is already present in the text by Bakhtin from the early 1920s, “K filosofii postupka” (1920-24, bilingual Russian and Italian text in Bachtin e il suo circolo 2014)), where he introduces the notion of exotopy (vnenakodimost’). In this text he also introduces the notion of “architectonics” according to which all values, meanings and spatial-temporal relationships are characterized in terms of otherness: “I-for-myself, the other-for-me, and I-for-the-other” (Toward a Philosophy of the Act, 1995, p. 54. Here postupok is also translated as deed).

All values of actual life and culture are arranged around the basic architectonic point of the actual world of the performed act or deed: scientific values, aesthetic values, political values (including both ethical and social values), and, finally, religious values. (ibid.)

The text which specifically analyses the notion of chronotope, “Forms of time and of the chronotope in the novel,” is dated 1937-38. It contains a note which refers to the conference by the neurophysiologist Aleksej A. A. Uchtomskij, which as reported by Bakthin was delivered in 1925, and a section entitled  “Concluding Remarks,” written in 1973.  So this text crosses over the whole range of Bakhtin’s research in its various phases, from his early writings to the latest. Moreover, this crossing is not only of the temporal order but also the conceptual.