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181. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 35 > Issue: 1/2
Floyd Merrell Toward a concept of pluralistic, inter-relational semiosis
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Brief consideration of (1) Peirce’s ‘logic of vagueness’, (2) his categories, and (3) the concepts of overdetermination and underdetermination, vagueness and generality, and inconsistency and incompleteness, along with (4) the abrogation of classical Aristotelian principles of logic, bear out the complexity of all relatively rich sign systems. Given this complexity, there is semiotic indeterminacy, which suggests sign limitations, and at the same time it promises semiotic freedom, giving rise to sign proliferation the yield of which is pluralistic, inter-relational semiosis. This proliferation of signs owes its perpetual flowing change in time to the inapplicability of classical logical principles, namely Non-Contradiction and Excluded-Middle, with respect to elements of vagueness and generality in all signs. Hempel’s ‘Inductivity Paradox’ and Goodman’s ‘New Riddle of Induction’ bear out the limitation and freedom of sign making and sign taking. A concrete cultural example, the Spaniards’ world including the Virgin of Guadalupe and the Aztecs world including their Goddess, Tonantzín, are given a Hempel-Goodman interpretation to reveal the ambiguous, vague, and complex nature of intercultural sign systems, further suggesting pluralism. In fact, when taking the ‘limitativetheorems’ of Gödel, Turing, and Chaitin into account, pluralism becomes undeniable, in view of the inconsistency-incompleteness of complex systems. A model for embracing and coping with pluralism suggests itself in the form of contextualized novelty seeking relativism. This form of pluralism takes overdetermination, largely characteristic of Peirce’s Firstness, and underdetermination largely characteristic of Peirce’s Thirdness, into its embrace to reveal a global context capable of elucidating local contexts the collection of which is considerably less than that global view. The entirety of this global context is impossible to encompass, given our inevitable finitude and fallibilism. Yet, we usually manage to cope with processual pluralism, within the play of semiosis.
182. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 35 > Issue: 1/2
Thomas J. Bruneau Time, change, and sociocultural communication: A chronemic perspective
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The temporal orientations of any sociocultural grouping are major factors comprising its central identity. The manner in which the past (memories), the present (perception), and the future (anticipation/expectation) are commonly articulated also concern cultural identity. The identity of a cultural group is altered by developmental changes in time keeping and related objective, scientific temporalities.Three modes of temporality, objective, narrative, and transcendental, congruent with different kinds of brain processes, are common throughout our planet. Objective temporality tends to alter and replace traditional narrative and transcendental (spiritual) time, timing, and tempos. Objective temporality is concerned with what is transitory, modern and “progressive”. Objective time is not a traditional form of cultural time; it is a derived Westernized scientific imposition, rather than any cultural formation. This essay develops a new conception of how semiosis occurs. All information is essentially rhythmic, transduced through sensory systems as signals in a space-time domain, but deposited for use into a spectral thermodynamic domain in the human cortex.A “chronemic” perspective, (temporality as it is based in semiotic processes related to human communication) is assumed throughout. Such a perspective appears to be somewhat novel in both communication and semiotic studies.
183. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 35 > Issue: 1/2
David Herman Ethnolinguistic identity and social cognition: Language prejudice as hermeneutic pathology
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Analysts studying the nexus between language and ethnic identity have characterized ethnolinguistic ideologies as the deep structure of overt language practices. By contrast, this exploratory analysis argues for the advantages of shifting from a multi-level to a single-level explanatory model, consisting of interpretive frames and data (= aspects of sociocommunicative behavior) interpreted by way of those frames. The single-level model affords, arguably, a more unified treatment of people’s everyday inferences about ethnolinguistic identity, on the one hand, and research paradigms for studying language as an ethnosemiotic resource, on the other hand. Yet the “singletiered” model does not void socioideological considerations. Instead, it assumes that a continuum stretches between (1) entrenched language prejudices, (2) efforts to use language theory to question or dislodge such prejudices, and (3) the moment-by-moment hypotheses and inferences in terms of which humans make sense of their conspecifics’ linguistic behavior, along with other ethnosemiotic cues.
184. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 35 > Issue: 1/2
Günther Witzany, Maricela Yip Gathering in Biosemiotics 6, Salzburg 2006
185. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 35 > Issue: 1/2
Jelena Grigorjeva Space-Time: A mythological geometry
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In the article the fundamental graphic models that are used by the cultural consciousness to bring about the abstract spheres of thought are analyzed. The problem of inter-semiotic, i.e. emblematic, interpretation of the categories of space and time is also considered. The models of the cross and pyramid are analyzed from the point of view of their ideological (transcending) function and of the mechanism of emblematizing the abstract notions of time and space. This approach helps understanding the general laws of cultural mentality and the process of emblematizing any meaning for the structuring and fixation purposes.
186. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 35 > Issue: 1/2
Jaan Valsiner Semiotic autoregulation: Dynamic sign hierarchies constraining the stream of consciousness
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For all human sciences, understanding of how the mind works requires a new theory that starts from the assumption of potential infinite variability of human symbolic forms. These forms are socially constructed by the person who moves through an endless variety of unique encounters with the world. A theory of symbolic forms needs to capture the essence of hyperdynamic, irreversible nature of the stream of consciousness and activity. The human mind is regulated through a dynamic hierarchy of semiotic mechanisms of increasingly generalized kind, which involves mutual constraining between levels of the hierarchy. It is demonstrated that semiotic mediation leads to a triplet of personal-cultural constructions — a new symbolic form, a metasymbolic form, and a regulatory signal to stop or enable the construction of further semiotic hierarchy. In everyday terms — human beings produce new problems, together with new efforts at solving them, and make decisions when to stop producing the former two. Hence, semiotic mediation guarantees both flexibility and inflexibility of the human psychological system, through the processes of abstracting generalization and contextualizing specification. Context specificity of psychological phenomena is an indication of general mechanisms that generate variability. Scientific investigation of human psychological complexity is necessarily oriented to the study of variability within the individual person’s psychological time-space.
187. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 35 > Issue: 1/2
Timo Maran Towards an integrated methodology of ecosemiotics: The concept of nature-text
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The aim of the article is to elaborate ecosemiotics towards practical methodology of analysis. For that, the article first discusses the relation between meaning and context seen as a possibility for an ecological view immanent in semiotics. Then various perspectives in ecosemiotics are analyzed by describing biological and cultural ecosemiotics and critically reading the ecosemiotic works of W. Nöth and K. Kull. Emphasizes is laid on the need to integrate these approaches so that the resulting synthesis would both take into account the semioticity of nature itself as well as allow analyzing the depiction of nature in the written texts. To this end, a model of nature-text is introduced. This relates two parties intertwined by meaningrelations — the written text and the natural environment. In support of theconcept of nature-text, the article discusses the Tartu–Moscow semioticians’ concepts of text, which are regarded as broad enough to accommodate the semiotic activity and environment creation of other animals besides humans. In the final section the concept of nature-text is used to describe nature writing as an appreciation of an alien semiotic sphere and to elucidate the nature writing’s marginality, explaining it with the need to interpret two different types of texts.
188. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 35 > Issue: 1/2
Anti Randviir On spatiality in Tartu–Moscow cultural semiotics: The semiotic subject
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The article views the development of the Tartu–Moscow semiotic school from the analysis of texts to the study of spatial entities (semiosphere being most well known of them). It comes to light that ‘culture’ and ‘space’ have been such notions in Tartu–Moscow School to which, for instance, the ‘semiosphere’ does not add much. There are studied possibilities to join Uexküll’s and Lotman’s basic concepts (as certain grounds of Estonian semiotics) with Tartu–Moscow School’s treatment of culture and space through the notion of ‘semiotic subject’. Such an approach allows to see transdisciplinarity, which has come to issue only during the last decade, already in the first conceptions of Tartu–Moscow School where transdisciplinarity revealed itself in the symbiotic use of ‘culture’ and ‘space’.
189. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 36 > Issue: 1
Tuuli Raudla Vico and Lotman: poetic meaning creation and primary modelling
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The article is based on theories of meaning creation and the concepts of archaic mind of Juri Lotman and Giambattista Vico. It compares the notions fantasia, ingegno, memoria and poetic logic by Vico with Lotman’s concepts of text, memory and modelling systems. Donald Phillip Verene’s and Marcel Danesi’s interpretations of Giambattista Vico’s work are also taken into consideration in the analysis. The article aims to bring out the characteristic features of archaic meaning creation. The archaic mind is considered to be fundamentally poetic. Its main mechanism of generating new meaning is metaphorical identification of two otherwise separate elements. The creativity of this act lies in the presumption that imagination is needed to bring these two elements together — they cannot be identified with each other by the means of syllogistic logic. The archaic mind does not operate mainly with generic concepts, as rational mind does. It forms imaginative universals instead, which are based on the sense of identity between objects or their parts, not on the sense of similarity/ dissimilarity of distinct features of objects. This process forms the basis of poetic modelling, which is primary in relation to verbal modelling.
190. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 36 > Issue: 1
Anne Sivuoja-Gunaratnam Voicing Le Neutre in the invisible choir in Richard Wagner’s Parsifal
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Roland Barthes was suspicious about the ability of music and voice to signify, as revealed in many of his writings. However, his somewhat limited views on music and voice need not to restrain from profiting his semiotic theorising and his reasoning, which can be adapted for musical instances in ways not envisaged by Barthes. The Neutral (Le Neutre) is a recurrent topic in Barthes’s oeuvre from his first book, Writing Zero Degree (1953) up to his 1978 lecture series on The Neutral in Collège de France (published in 2002). This paper explores how Barthes’s Neutral may enhance a special kind of listening. The enigmatic sonorities emitted by the Invisible Choir in Richard Wagner’s Parsifal (1882) serve as the foil in this task, more precisely a phrase voiced by female altos and male tenors (“Nehmet hin meinen Leib [...]”, Act I). It is not its semantic content mediated by (written) language that is of interest here but how this phrase has been voiced, andfurthermore, how Barthes’s Neutral may be heard in and beneath it. Several commercially available live recordings made in Bayreuth have offered playground for listening to and for The Neutral. As my analysis shows, the audible Neutral is not a separate entity but works in conjunction with other modes of signification: visual, textual, biographical, spatial.
191. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 36 > Issue: 1
Heta Pyrhönen Ways of keeping love alive: Roland Barthes, George du Maurier, and Gilles Deleuze
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The article examines Barthes’s A Lover’s Discourse (1977) in conjunction with du Maurier’s Trilby (1894) in order to present an argument about the similarities they share with the male masochistic fantasy as theorised by Deleuze in his Coldness and Cruelty (1989). Barthes’s insistence on the connection between art and love directs my approach. Trilby deals with love and aesthetics in the contexts of art, music, and narrative. The discourses of Trilby’s competing lovers over the same woman serve as a point of comparison against which I read Barthes’s dramatisation of a lover’s discourse. I argue that Barthes’s lover shares a number of central discursive figures with the Deleuzian masochistic lover. I examine Barthes’s suggestion about the tension between the non-narrative discourse of love and the metalanguage of conventional love stories. I focus on those figures in a lover’s discourse that Barthes identifies as keeping this discourse from turning into a love story. My argument is that many of these figures are among the hallmarks of the masochistic fantasy. In particular the formula of disavowal safeguards the lover’s discourse, hindering it from turning into a conventional narrative about love.
192. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 36 > Issue: 1
Vyacheslav V. Ivanov Semiotics of the 20th century
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Semiotic and linguistic studies of the 20th century have been important mostly in two senses — (1) they have opened a road for comparative research on the origin and development of language and other systems of signs adding a new dimension to the history of culture; (2) they have shown a possibility of uniting different fields of humanities around semiotics suggesting a way to trespass separation and atomisation of different trends in investigating culture. In the 21st century one may hope for closer integration of semiotics and exact and natural sciences. The points of intersection with the mathematical logic, computer science and information theory that already exist might lead to restructuring theoretical semiotics making it a coherent and methodologically rigid discipline. At the same time, the continuation of neurosemiotic studies promises a breakthrough in understanding those parts of the work of the brain that are most intimately connected to culture. From this point of view semiotics may play an outstanding role in the synthesis of biological science and humanities. In my mind that makes it a particularly important field of future research.
193. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 36 > Issue: 1
Patrizia Calefato On myths and fashion: Barthes and cultural studies
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Roland Barthes’s work has confronted contemporary culture with the question of what happens when an object turns into language. This question allowed Barthes to “construct” well known cultural objects — from novels to music, from images to classical rhetoric, from love to theatre — in an unthought way, and to create new, even more unknown ones — from contemporary myth to fashion, from Japan to food culture. In this paper, Barthes’s cultural criticism is considered alongside with the issues raised by Cultural Studies. More specifically, Barthes’s constant reflection on the myth undoubtedly entitles us to connect his cultural criticism to the work that, in those same years, was being produced by the English forge of Cultural Studies, namely the so-called “Birmingham school”. Even today, Barthes’s work makes it possible for semiotics to be, to use his expressions, both “the science of every imagined universe”, and a mathesis singularis, rather than universalis, that is to say a systematic way to approach the singularity of the objects of knowledge. On the basis of this “transcendental reduction”, we can therefore wish for a “second birth” and a transvaluation of linguistics and of semiotics, both to be applied through varied and disseminated forms ofintellectual activism.
194. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 36 > Issue: 1
Sirkka Knuuttila L’effet de réel revisited: Barthes and the affective image
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This article addresses Barthes’s development from a structuralist semiotician towards an affectively responding reader in terms of ‘postrational’ subjectivity. In light of his whole oeuvre, Barthes anticipates the understanding of emotion as an integral part of cognition presented in contemporary social neuroscience. To illustrate Barthes’s growing awareness of the importance of this epistemological move, the article starts from his textual ‘reality effect’ as a critical vehicle of realist representation. It then shifts to his attempt at conceptualising an affective reading which resists the universalising idea of one ideologically determined signified. Barthes’s progress towards embracing the actual reader’s embodied self-feeling is prompted by two conceptual milestones: the obtuse meaning found incinematic stills, and the experience of punctum felt in photos. In light of his lectures in the Collège de France, Barthes substitutes the Husserlian disembodied method of introspection with the Chinese wu-wei as a reading practice. As a result, his Zen-Buddhist concentration on bodily feelings elicited by visual/verbal images becomes a method capable of creating a fruitful link between language and wordless cognition. Finally, the article proposes an idea of the ‘embodied reality effect’ by reading affectively two similar scenes interpreted by the early and late Barthes himself.
195. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 36 > Issue: 1
Harri Veivo Introduction: Barthes’s relevance today
196. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 36 > Issue: 1
Harri Veivo Barthes’s positive theory of the author
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While it is well known that Roland Barthes consecrated his last lecture series at the Collège de France to the theme of the preparation of a novel, it is less known that his first writings on literature focused on the same question, but from a less individual point of view. The interrogation that motivates Le Degré zéro de l’écriture (1953) and many of the essays in Essais critiques (1964) is the question of how to write, of what procedures one can follow in preparing a literary work of art. At the two ends of Barthes’s career one finds the same themes of writing as action and of the writer’s possibilities and motivations in writing. The article explores the hypothesis that there is ground for a positive theory of the author in Barthes’s work. It seeks to discover similarities between writings from the early and the late period that concern three themes: (1) writing as action, (2) the deferral of its achievement, and (3) writing as representation. The article ends with a discussion on the relationships between Barthes’s positive theory of the author and related important issues that have been discussed recently in literary criticism.
197. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 36 > Issue: 1
Michael Sheringham Writing the Present: Notation in Barthes’s Collège de France lectures
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In his lectures at the Collège de France in 1978–1979, Barthes focuses at length on the activity of ‘la notation’ (in English, notation): grabbing a fleeting event or impression as it happens, and registering it in your notebook. This article explores the ramifications of notation, as outlined in the lectures (where it is associated with haiku, Joycean epiphany and Proustian impressionism), linking it to Barthes’s longstanding interest in the ontology of modes of signification. Allied to his concept of the ‘third meaning’, and to later terms such as the incident and the romanesque, notation is seen to be central to the preoccupation with affect, subjectivity and individuality we associate with Barthes’s later work. Linked with the fantasy of writing a novel, notation also chimes with the “fantasmatic pedagogy” of Barthes’s lectures where ideas are explored in a highly personal way through the accumulation of discontinuous traits. Through notation the affect-driven, decentred Barthesian subject finds its voice.
198. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 36 > Issue: 2
George Rückert Translation as sentimental education: Zhukovskij’s Sel’skoe kladbishche
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Vasilij Zhukovskij’s Sel’skoe kladbische, a translation of Thomas Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, occupies a special place in Russian literary history. First published in 1802, it was so widely imitated by later Russian poets that it came to be regarded as a “landmark of Russian literature”, not only at a boundary between two cultures (English and Russian) but also at a boundary within Russian culture itself — the transition from Neoclassical to Romantic aesthetics. Zhukovskij’s translation of Gray can be read as the end result of a long process of personal education in the sign system of Sentimentalism, in both its European and its Russian variants, which then reproduced itself in an impersonal way within his culture as a whole. Zhukovskij did not merely reinscribe Gray’s poem into Russian. Rather, he used it to deploy the developing Russian Sentimentalist (Karamzinist) style within a wide range of lyric registers, thereby providing models for other Russian lyric poets. In this sense, his work exemplifies Juri Lotman’s dictum that “the elementary act of thinking is translation” — it made itpossible for Russian poets to think within an entirely new, though by no means foreign system of signs.
199. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 36 > Issue: 2
Peeter Torop Translation as communication and auto-communication
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If one wants to understand translation, it is necessary to look at all its aspects from the psychological to the ideological. And it is necessary to see the process of translation, on the one hand, as a complex of interlinguistic, intralinguistic, and intersemiotic translations, and on the other hand, as a complex of linguistic, cultural, economic, and ideological activities. Translators work at the boundaries of languages, cultures, and societies. They position themselves between the poles of specificity and adaptation in accordance with the strategies of their translational behaviour. They either preserve the otherness of the other or they transform the other into self. By the same token, they cease to be simple mediators, because in a semiotic sense they are capable of generating new languages for the description of a foreign language, text, or culture, and of renewing a culture or of having an influence on the dialogic capacity of a culture with other cultures as well as with itself. In this way, translators work not only with natural languages but also with metalanguages, languages of description. One of the missions of the translator is to increase the receptivity and dialogic capability of a culture, and through these also the internal variety of that culture. As mediators between languages, translators are important creators of new metalanguages.
200. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 36 > Issue: 2
Edna Andrews, Elena Maksimova Semiospheric transitions: A key to modelling translation
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Lotman’s contribution to semiotic theory, anthroposemiotics, the study of artistic texts and defining the relationship between language and culture represent some of the most powerful work produced within the Tartu–Moscow School of Semiotics. The importance of translation is one of the central principles that unites all of Lotman’s work. In the following paper, we will consider Lotman’s definition of translatability in the context of (1) the definition of semiospheric internal and external boundaries and the importance of crossing these boundaries, (2) the role of no fewer than two languages as a minimal unit of semiotic meaning-generation, (3) culture text-level generation of collective memory, and (4) the ever-present tension in the communication act. In our concluding section, we will offer an extended model of the communication act, based on the fundamental principles given in Jakobson, Sebeok and Lotman, in order to specify important moments of the translation process.