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A word in your ear: Podcasting for introverts

Who would deny that a whisper excites the senses. People are accustomed to music listening via headsets. The speaking voice at intimate proximity surpasses even musical affect. In any case, the voice is immediate, close, of the moment, embodied, and active. Sounds envelop, as if clouds, with the voice, or certain voices, breaking like a … Continue reading

Stupid postmodernism

According to a search on Google Ngram, the term “postmodernism” reached its apogee in the 1990s. Then there was a sharp decline, at least in books up to 2008, which is the extent of the current Ngram database. But what was once a term debated, disputed and exhausted in academic circles in the 1980s and … Continue reading

What a mess!

Anyone with a sense of order can’t help but notice that problems frequently occur at the seams, where things join, or don’t join, or don’t quite align as they should — where the joins don’t survive successive adaptations. Sociologist Richard Sennett illustrated the demoralized state of crafters in the former Soviet Union. Once when shown … Continue reading

Deviant play

I just watched a team of gamers play Fortnite Battle Royal. You don’t need to play a video game to get the gist. You can watch others play it on Youtube. Fortnite is a war game where you form teams and hide out in photo-real buildings while you shoot enemies. One of the gamers remarked … Continue reading

Hustle, twitter, bells and banter

Free beer! C.S. Peirce and semioticians make much of the meaningful call out of someone like a street vendor. A cry or call out from someone giving away, selling or hustling goods at a market fits one of Peirce’s sign categories. To be precise, it is a kind of dicent indexical legisign. The sign is complete … Continue reading

Full indexical jacket

Art in the 1970s shifted to the indexical, according to Rosalind Krauss, and away from the symbolic. “As distinct from symbols, indexes establish their meaning along the axis of a physical relationship to their referents. They are the marks or traces of a particular cause, and that cause is the thing to which they refer, … Continue reading

You can fool all the people some of the time

The theories about metaphor of the American cognitive linguist George Lakoff have long informed my understanding of language and of design. Lakoff also weighs in on US politics (to use a sporting metaphor). His recent interview on a podcast and his opinion piece in the Guardian are of the moment. I’ll quote a passage about … Continue reading

On being a detective

As evidence of crimes and misdemeanours mount and circulate around the US president and his entourage, attention turns to matters of fact. Fact-checking is a major media sub-industry. See factcheck.org, politifact.com, and fullfact.org. It’s also an exercise in semiotic indexicality. I’m investigating how C.S. Peirce’s theories about signs relate to his theory of abduction, i.e. … Continue reading

Signs in architecture and music

Architecture is an art of signs. C.S. Peirce introduced the idea of the sign vehicle, that encourages the architectural scholar to think beyond standard architectural elements as channels of communication. The communicative elements of a building are not restricted to components such as columns, chimneys, windows, staircases, and doors, but the aspects and qualities of … Continue reading

What is pansemiotics?

Pansemiotics has not yet made it into the Oxford English Dictionary. The term crops up several times in Winfried Nöth’s expansive 1990 book, The Handbook of Semiotics. The term provides a means of describing the theological view that “the whole universe became [in the Middle Ages] signs of divine revelation” (382), as in the Old Testament statement, … Continue reading

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