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The American Journal of Semiotics

Volume 26, Issue 1/4, 2010
Jeff Bernard Memorial Issue

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1. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1/4
Gloria Withalm Funeral Card
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2. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1/4
Gloria Withalm 2010 Biographical Note of Jeff Bernard
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3. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1/4
John Deely Jeff Bernard (12 September 1943–2010 February 24): First Meeting and After
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4. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1/4
Jeff Bernard Chart of Semiotic History, drawn in June 2005
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essays for the memorial volume
5. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1/4
Paul Cobley Motivation and Interest
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In place of an abstract. Jeff Bernard was not afraid of complexity. The last essay of his that I read and published was ‘10 theses on perception in terms of work. A Rossi-Landian/Wittgensteinian point of view’, a title which promised thinking of some considerable sophistication — and delivered with dividends. It was accompanied by a figure in a pdf file that my co-editor and me struggled to understand until well after a few readings and close re-readings of the essay. Away from strictly intellectual ruminations, Jeff devoted considerable time to pondering human relations. Fuelled by cigarettes and alcohol, with me opting solely for the latter, he would regale friends late into the night with stories of communication and miscommunication, understandings and misunderstandings, feuds and reconciliations, cultural differences and affinities, conflicts and alliances, among the large number of members of our semiotic web. As far as I remember, these stories were always furnished with Jeff’s wry smirk, a communication acting to distance him from the sometimes unregistered pettiness of the protagonists’ doings and a self-extrication from the malice that their demands and arguments might have invited. Jeff always did his best; he often poured oil on troubled waters. I do not believe he ever let anyone down. He evinced a particular ability in observing and recognizing the interests and motivation of others — simpleissues, but requiring an analytic and sympatico mind. He kept his head while others lost theirs. He sometimes put their heads back on for them. Hence this short essay in the complex field of Jeff’s beloved sociosemiotics, dealing with the two apparently ‘uncomplex’ issues of my title, issues that are always close at hand. This essay is an attempt to ensure that he, likewise, is never far away.
6. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1/4
John Deely Theses on Semiology and Semiotics
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7. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1/4
Rolf-Dieter Hepp Jeff Bernard: A Socioanalytic Approach
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8. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1/4
János Kelemen Dante and the Tradition of the Written Word
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Dedication. A version of this paper has been discussed in 2007, in Dunabogdány (Hungary), on the occasion of an informal meeting, organized by Jeff Bernard. It was the last occasion I had the chance to meet him, one of my closest friends during many years, to whose memory I dedicate this essay.
9. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1/4
Mariana Neţ Bucharest Statues at the Turn of the 19th Century. A Semiotic Approach
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Jeff Bernard was a distinguished semiotician, always au courant with the main accomplishments in the field. Although Jeff himself had specialized in socio-semiotics, his architectural training and his artistic youth had lent him a really open mind, able to comprehend almost everything.Jeff Bernard was also an excellent administrator. He and Gloria organized countless international conferences, most of them based in Vienna (at the Institute for Socio-Semiotic Studies Jeff was the director of ), but also in other places in Austria, Germany, Italy. All of them were a success. Jeff ran the ISSS almost single-handed. He edited books (he published three of mine, among many, many others), anthologies, semiotic journals. He knew how to raise funding, of which the whole semiotic community benefitted. In 2003, he acted as my “impresario”, as he jokingly said, and organized a lecturing tour through Central Europe for me.Jeff was also a wonderful host; he considered his guests as part of the family and treated them accordingly. Many were the times when he picked me up from one Viennese railway station or the other, or when he drove me there, when I stopped in Vienna, to or from other places. It was owing to Jeff and Gloria that I discovered Grinzig, Baden, and various other cozy places in and around Vienna. Last but not least, it was also due to Jeff and Gloria that I discovered the charm of many Viennese restaurants.Jeff was kind and generous, elegant and discreet. He helped quite a lot of semioticians to forward their careers, and more important still, he did it unobtrusively. Jeff was also a likeable person, with an entertaining conversation and a fine sense of humor.“I am a Feminist”, Jeff once said. (For the sake of historical accuracy, it was in September 1997, round a dinner table at the Early-Fall School of Semiotics, thenheld in Bankya, Bulgaria). And he further expanded: “Otherwise, we couldn’t be living with Gloria. And my life would be pretty difficult, virtually surrounded as I am by so many professional women. But they all think I am a Feminist, and they are happy to work for my benefit. So I sit at my desk in Vienna, and my women colleagues from all over the world send me contributions for this and that, come over to participate in conferences, etc. It pays being a Feminist”.“Ich bin ein Berliner”, said Jeff on another occasion. For historical accuracy, it was in September 2003, during the conference celebrating his 60th birthday, in answer to a remark made by Roland Posner. It seemed a humorous statement, and everybody smiled. But I think this was true in spirit. These few lines, as well as (I suppose) those written by other colleagues who have contributed to the present issue, are meant to illustrate this self-definition. Jeff had always sympathized with the less privileged people everywhere.
10. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1/4
Susan Petrilli, Augusto Ponzio Jeff Bernard and Ferruccio Rossi-Landi: A Friendship Founded on Mutual Appreciation of Their Respective Research Perspectives
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11. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1/4
Georg Schmid Crisis, Crash, Catastrophe: The Storytelling of Disaster and Its Signs
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“Hallo, hier ist Jeff ” / “Hello, this is Jeff ” — the typical words, distinctively articulated, the hint of a question mark, when Jeff called you, usually with a splendid idea for a “nice little symposium”, some conference, an invitation to give a lecture, to participate in a colloquium, to contribute an article. During the decades I have known him, never once has there been less than complete commitment to semiotics, an ongoing fascination that never slackened, paired with an outlook, principally in regard to politics, going far beyond the confines of a scholarly field. It was an inclusive vision of the world that was typical of him, albeit a Weltanschauung guided by unequivocal conceptions and based on ample reflection. Even so, Jeff had no misgivings about assumptions divergent from his own although these were deeply held: rather, that plurality seemed to energize him even more, and the resulting expression of his views would, as a rule, get highly animated and intense. His engagement had to be strong: semiotics has hardly ever been a popular discipline (discounting a brief voguish celebrity in France,chiefly caused by a deficient and reductive reception of Barthes). Indeed semiotics was (and still is) widely considered to be a pretentious undesirability, maybe particularly in Jeff’s native Austria (where he organized all the same a very substantial number of subsidized colloquies). It was, I think, not least the tenacity resulting from an inauspicious situation which made Jeff such a fighter. No doubt, he had to be ─ his outstanding services to semiotics in general, that’s to say in large measure on the international scene, by no means a setting mastered easily, give ample proof. And prodigal too was the incredible amount of publications to his credit, pouring forth in rapid succession, throughout the years. The loss we had to suffer this year will be felt for a long time; at least there are the memories of unparalleled engagement and the testimony of a stupendous oeuvre. And for some among us there are even quite private remembrances to cherish: in my case, for instance, an extended visit of Jeff’s ─ not so long ago at our place in south-western France ─ together with his companion and collaborator Gloria Withalm.
12. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1/4
Vilmos Voigt Gestures Expressing Numbers — or — Numbers Expressed by Gestures
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13. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1/4
Josef Wallmannsberger Quodlibet (ex nihilo): Signifying Nothing
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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.
14. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1/4
Gloria Withalm Unity in Diversity. On Jeff Bernard’s Life and Work
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15. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1/4
About the Authors
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