“Insanity is hereditary, you get it from your children.”
Tribute to John Shotter
John Shotter died yesterday in England. A large framed, tender man, he grew up in a household with only one book and came to make of books his favorite dwelling. He knew hard physical jobs and tried directing theater before becoming an academic in the areas of psychology and communication. He fiercely struggled with ideas to express always something else about his rhetoric-responsive approach to human communication, the “knowledge from within” lived situations, and dialogism, a thread that guided his otherwise numerous interests all along. A scholar of Bakhtin, Vygotsky and Wittgenstein, he had no patience for the appropriation of ideas by trademarks and in his infatigable prolific writing managed to influence many fields, family therapy one his favorites among them. Over the last 25 years we knew each other our paths remain parallel and first in New Hampshire at his house by the lake, in midway points between our places in New England and later in England, we met enthusiastically to discuss in our different ways of signaling a common territory, as he liked to say. We continued met meeting in seminars, roundtables and workshops we gave together in Italy, Spain, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and México, always an excuse for a broader encounter to spin ideas about the worldly and the unworldly, eluding carefully a small talk he rejected preferring instead Scottish whiskey for the breaks that never really happened. A unique human being of a subtle spirit, a lion of thought behind his timid appearance. I, as many others, will miss him greatly.