Mapping the Meanings – Semiotic Territories

Guattari - emphatic umph

Semiotic Territories 

If the world were different, or its circumstances, so would he be – no use going down that avenue.  Where he’d gotten to, he’d arrived of his own doing – his own choices, interactions and responses to his surroundings – his opportunities and limitations – his very own and very shared, complex experiences.

The “way of looking at it” is always only one way of looking at it – that’s the case of it, even when viewed through “multiple perspectives” – if its delivered of a human, it’s the processing of singular machines, however plural their construction may be.

So change is curious, in that, when any element alters, the entire effect is unknown, is of incalculable scales that can only be measured in probabilities.  Probabilities, hypotheses, theories and beliefs have one tremendous thing in common: they are all of them uncertain.  You’ve heard it said (or he has) – “the only thing that doesn’t change is change itself,” no, that doesn’t sound quite right, “the only thing we know for certain is that everything’s uncertain,” no, people don’t use the word certain and its relatives that often.  “Change is truth, truth is change”?

She said: “A shared past isn’t forgotten even in change.”  That works for him, for what is memory but the continuous recording of change?

It’s grown easy to confuse himself, he thinks.

 

He notes:  “You find yourself in an encyclopedia of circumstance and then you wonder.”  He only wonders because to inquire or investigate would mean to revise the encyclopedia by looking at it – selecting, perceiving, and thereby focusing an entry to the ignorance of the rest.  A book-burning, a global apocalypse, a conflagration of reality.  Not what he wants.  So he sits and stews or simmers there.  But the limiting fact of existing at “there” annihilates great distances.  He can’t seem to avoid mass destruction.  He takes deep breaths.

 

Writing like thinking like moving – all of it creating a splintered prism of mirrors, warped and shattering windows on presence.  He loves her.  And others beside.  And himself.  And the strange fanatic gifts of the world.  People – “good,” “bad,” or otherwise – how can they not fascinate, be beautiful, in even their minimal capacities?  Where had he edited this part of himself, during?  How he loved her, benefit or ill.

 

He changes, along with everything about (or around) him.

 

Everything was changing (an enormous statement) and he along with it (the Everything).  Self, selves, other, others – why did all seem unavoidably personal?  Just what was this ‘person-ness’?  He feeds encyclopedias to flames, and entertains the questions.  Realizing that questions are the riddling workings of erasure.

 

His question swipes across its context, even when he’s asking of its context.  In other words (his words) “focus obliterates the unclear.”  And the unclear composes the context.  The too-much and more-than, some even say “Beyond.”  What’s not forgotten in the stylus of changing – our memory?  What shared past is present?  He looks at her photographs uniquely each time, each moment, each instance.  Even in-stance he’s not stable.

 

How could he hold position on a spinning globe?

He asks Siri, the plastic voice of a Global Positioning System:  “Where am I?”  Her reply obliterates the world in a profession of some arbitrary gridwork (abstract and unreal) of names and points, streets and latitudes, longitudes, disabling fabrications designed to throw him off course and locate him against the constant movement.  He remembers not to believe, that very re-membering dismembering the possibles.

 

Desiring connection – the security or perceived safety of a tightened weave, to be knotted in a tangle of threads – he spies squirrels and birds, fences and trees, a woman’s breast.  To sense substance pressed against another, as if interacting a location that might not give.  Or give precisely.  An event.

 

He can’t remember what is not being forgotten.  He wanted to, wanted to know what she didn’t forget, like a recipe or table of contents, a topographical map.  He couldn’t imagine what response she would give – what saying or writing, what sculpting or paint – as an answer.

 

He stops guessing as an act of nonviolence.  Most probably he lays down and opens his arms as a wishing and welcome.  That is his practice now: bewildered? confused? give greeting and welcome.  “Hello there, unclear and unknown, I am unable to re-cognize you or you would be known and familiar…and yet I am sensing a pattern,” he says.  A family resemblance of mystery, a remembering of is.  If no one’s written that, perhaps they should (he thinks – another act of violence).  Pronouncements.  Aphorisms.  Like paradox-bombs, parables leaving remains.

 

As a first, he senses he understands “absolute truth” – that rage and genocide that attempts to rid the world of itself – its reality, complexity, multitudes.  Truth the large red button signed “Do Not Press!”  Depression must be a result of pressuring some truth, excluding all else?

 

Confused, he feels at home.  Mismembering, bewildered, changing with change.  Con-fused – isn’t that what he on some scale desires?  To be fused-with, part-of, belonging and participant?

He’s in motion, there is music and breath and these thoughts – all things depending on change.

 

“…no longer a subjective bubble, but rather a limitless interface through which ontological or ‘pure’ relations and ‘becomings’ easily pass…Subjectivity is constitutively open, or has a being-toward, as do all relative beings…We are semiotic, existential territories rather than brains in vats, and these territories or ecologies are not contained within our physical anatomy, nor are they known only as immanent representations.  The question becomes this: Where does your cognition or subjectivity terminate if it is a suprasubjective process and not a stable substance?  The ‘self’ becomes a sign relation or interpretant rather than an unrelated, ontological entity…What is being constantly emphasized is a kind of semiotic ontology in which relations become crucial at every level of analysis and allow for the interweaving of corporeal and incorporeal factors.  Relations are an intrinsic dimension of being, and every being becomes the active center of a web of relations with other beings…beings that are nevertheless in mobile relationships…the ‘truth of the relative’ rather than the ‘relativity of truth.”

– Paul Bains, The Primacy of Semiosis: An Ontology of Relations

ernst bloch - human

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4 thoughts on “Mapping the Meanings – Semiotic Territories

  1. I have always loved the whole concept of semiotics. It was very new and de riguer in the 70′;s at the university. I really enjoyed this piece. It reminded me of a poem I recently wrote but have not posted yet that I hope hits some of the marks talked about. >KB

    The Ends that Swing Between Both Worlds

    That there is a haven as such where all things
    Occur in a place and in a sequence is not in doubt.

    Made of paper thin glass so not to diffuse light
    From enhancing the fulcrum of time that swings
    In accordance with the natural cadences
    Of worlds in motion set to a course that orbits
    In reality and is distinctly perceived differently
    By each of us independent of the other
    Except when there is cause to persuade another
    Cause and effect took place in an order
    Unlike it did and we ascribe to memories
    The way we say we remember how life happened.

    Your days and nights pull your emotions into you
    Like a mother embraces her child and in my same days
    And nights I do likewise. The same light and dark
    Preserves us both yet, what makes shadows for us each
    Is not the same from where we stand in our places.

    There can be no two thoughts alike, always
    The faces of opinion raise different conjectures
    As to the best course of action based upon outcomes
    Of the past. Simply said, still full of passions memories
    Are the ends that swing between both worlds.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing here! I so appreciate your comments and insights and always your work. Yes – digging into interrelatedness and individual meaning from manifold influences is such a fascinating realm we seem to be able to envision. I can’t imagine tiring of it 🙂

  3. Nice, nice, nice!
    (Triple nice denotes favour of the gods),
    a vapour aromatic, bitter,
    Rising from certain, approved of,
    Sacrifice.
    One who knows his place
    And knows it might
    Be nowhere particular,
    Except the particularity
    Of cloud chambers
    And the silent
    Expansion of a supernova
    (Inexplicably given
    Nomenclature and name
    Of someone’ wife).
    The only object
    Is its name.
    Three moving lines.
    Hence the wise man
    Remains silent
    Watching the return
    Of swallows.

"A word is a bridge thrown between myself and an other - a territory shared by both" - M. Bakhtin

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