"I can't write without a reader. It's precisely like a kiss - you can't do it alone." -John Cheever.
Any form of communication is, with multiple instances, capable of constructing a discourse. But for that to happen, an expression must be "read" by someone else, another conscious experience(r) must construct some meaning from its specifics, transforming it from an expression into a communication. Basically, since we're all experientially isolated consciousnesses, without a built-in method of faithfully transferring our conscious experiences to another, all expressions must be made physically, through signs.Read More
Ever notice how you can't "unsee" some things? I'm not talking about terrifying imagery like a particularly stomach-churning horror movie scene or a roommate or relative with a strong dispreference for pants when lounging around the house. That's a different, but highly related, kind of unseeing I might write a little about later. But right now, I'm talking more like text emoticons, the arrow in that FedEx logo, or any other of the variety of multi-message logos. The people (fewer and fewer, these days) that haven't seen some of the most basic emoticons would be quite confused as to what a letter-writer might mean if they pen "=P", or how "equals 'P'" is at all sequitor to the letter's content, nevermind that it could have a meaning more complex than just a representation of a facial expression. However, once you're in on the secret, it's practically impossible to not see that dumb little face with a tongue sticking out, and to similarly read a tone, or a twist in meaning, to interpret said letter in.Read More
It would be good, at this early stage, to try and set out a simple, solid foundation for understanding some basics of a semiotic approach, in case readers that aren't familiar with it and don't want to spend more time on Wikipedia don't already want to completely abandon this thing. For such a task, I'll attempt a staple of explanatory semiotic metaphors: the stop sign. In semiotics (made up of semantics, syntactics, and pragmatics,) a sign is a particular instance of an observable input or stimulus that signifies, or triggers in the observer, a meaning of some sort. The meaning or understanding taken from observing a sign is usually called its "signified," and the observable unit of information (an abstract symbol, to a letter, a word, sentence, image, book, lighting in a photo, camera movement in a film scene, color of a character's hat, statistical analysis, anything) that triggered the making of the meaning or understanding taken from its observation is called the "sign." This relationship underlies the concept, and phenomenon, we refer to as significance.Read More