The American Journal of Semiotics

Volume 26, Issue 1/4, 2010

Jeff Bernard Memorial Issue

Josef Wallmannsberger
Pages 129-132

Quodlibet (ex nihilo)
Signifying Nothing

At the beginning there was an act of extraordinary generosity: when I first met Jeff at a legal semiotics conference in the early eighties, he approached me after my presentation of mostly half-baked ideas and wild conjectures, congratulating me on my visual displays, and enquiring if I should be interested in developing my work into a joint book project. In the portrait of the scholar as a young man or woman, this is the kind of turn of events I should hope will happen for all my colleagues in the first, still insecure phases of their careers. I have had the honour and privilege of becoming a member of the Collegium Invisibile Semioticae with Jeff as the Decanus subtilis of this enterprise, special in many ways. In the abstract of my contribution to his festschrift colloquium I remarked that “The idea of the academy has to be recreated from nothing. Ex nihilo quodlibet: ad multos annos” — hoping for many more than the seven years that were to follow. In the following seven Paninian quodlibeta I have endeavoured to come to terms with the intellectual and existential appeal of economy and minimalism: fail, fail again, fail better.