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Transcript of Semiotics Lecture
Slippage & Deferral of Meaning
Language and subjectivity are equally interdependent; the former is as determinative for the latter as the latter is for the former. Indeed, without language there would be no subjectivity. The individual finds his or her cultural identity only within discourse.
“Language is … the possibility of subjectivity because it always contains the linguistic forms appropriate to the expression of subjectivity, and discourse provokes the emergence of subjectivity because it consists of discrete instances.”
we have direct experience but indirect knowledge of reality
representations provide us with our only access to reality
‘Man does not only know the world through language; he is himself the product of language’
‘the word or sign which man uses is the man himself… the fact that every thought is a sign, taken in conjunction with the fact that life is a train of thought, proves that man is a sign … the man and the … sign are identical…. Thus my language is the sum total of myself; for the man is the thought.’
Language, Perception, Reality and Identity
Different languages entail ‘a different articulation of the conceptual plane’ (as does the ‘same’ language at different times and in different places)
Not only can a language arbitrarily choose its own signifiers; it can divide up a certain spectrum of conceptual possibilities in any way it likes
Identity is wholly a function of differences within a system
Language and Identity 1
Different Languages Articulate the World Differently
If language were a set of names applied to independently-existing concepts, then in the historical evolution of a language the concepts should remain stable
A language does not simply assign arbitrary names to a set of independently existing concepts. It sets up an arbitrary relation between signifiers of its own choosing on the one hand, and signifieds of its own choosing on the other
Ferdinand de Saussure
Culture is not collective, but riven with contradictions. These contradictions are covered over and smoothed out by ideology or myth, which creates the world in the image of the dominant class.
Signification 2: Connotation
Signification 1: Denotation
Semiotics: The study of meaning
who am I?
who am I?
imaginary and symbolic identification
Are meanings fixed?
Is meaning stable?
Some basic semiotic analyses
Barthes on 'French Toys'
Language, perception, Subjectivity
Film and Cultural Theory.