“Phd vs Story”

(The ‘Begins’/’Ends’ time signals in these PhD posts refer only to time I sat to actually write the posts, not the reading/thinking/or other text writing time weaved in and out, and around them)

Begins 22:17 GMT

It’s interesting that the concepts I am digesting today in Eco’s Theory of Semiotics, is about the contradictions in semantic fields.  Specific examples he uses to illustrate this are antonymous terms.  In text 2 of this Phd thesis – the representation of my understanding, world view, and research ‘finding’s are built around the Pied Platoon and the ESS (Endangered Species Society).  They are antonymous.  Although in the early stages of the story they are probably antonyms by converseness, the third of the three classifications by Lyons (cited on p81, Eco), their classification may change with possible mediation through the entire semantic field of the story and the cultural units within it.

Eco concludes from the classifications of Lyons and subdivisions of Katz that ‘a superficial glance’ of antonyms reveals:

1 That the same term can entertain different relationships.  For example, bachelor can be considered contrary to spinster, as it [bachelor] can also be considered contrary to married.

2 The same term can entertain a “contradictory or converse or contrary antonymous relation depending on the rhetorical (and ideological) way in which these relations are viewed.”   In text 2 of the story, <animals> are antonymous to <humans> from the ideological viewpoint of wild animals. But domesticated animals have a ‘relation of contrariness’ to wild animals with the latter sharing the same ‘semantic space’ as humans.

Antonymous terms, Eco reminds us, are ‘fuzzy concepts’ and ‘fuzzy concepts’ exist in ‘every kind of semiotic phenomena’ because cultural units are seldom univocal entities.

[OS This reminds me of conversations I have witnessed, not part of, where individuals have used clear antonyms when describing ‘us and them’.  In those instances of what are often blatant discrimination on an ideological level, the language is usually fuzzy enough that there is an assumed shared ‘culture’ without an honest use of shared language.  It’s usually enough to ask for clarity on the definition of ‘them’ to illicit at least a change in language.  It takes a lot more ‘critical revision and movements of acculturation’ (p76 of Eco) to upset these kinds of semantic fields.]

[SS You mean when ‘white’ people are together and someone says ‘they’ when they mean ‘black’ people, but you know that the mere fact that they hide behind a fuzzy ‘they’ there’s trouble?]

[OS Yes.  But in those ‘types’ of conversations where the antonymous ‘us and them’ are used, it’s very hard to even be sure what is really being said.  You can only sense it.  But I usually take terms like ‘they’/’them’ as signals, signs even, that there’s an ideological misfit.  Alas even Eco cautions that ‘the study of the semantic system requires ‘many’ precautions’ (p82)].

[SS And even less easier (not harder) because I have a bloody itchy, irritating, driving-me-made, water-in right ear]

[OS Just in time for Eco’s big whopping knock out philosophical statement]:::

This contradictory nature of semantic fields begs “whether or not semantic fields really exist?

[SS Fab.  Great.  Super.  Now I am not only feeling lost within the structure of the world around me and drowning in paroxysms of fear, I also have to read whether the ‘thing’ (that’s all it deserves to be named right now) really exists?]

[OS This was never going to be easy]

Eco equates this core question and states it’s equivalent to asking:

“Is there something in the mind of the person understanding the content of an expression which corresponds to a semantic field”?

[SS That’s it.  He is playing with my semantic fields, sememes, cultural units and my mind, which has a lot of content begging to be expressed.]

[OS But doesn’t it EChO (oink)some of Archer’s theory on reflexives?]

[SS Frankly my dear objective self, I don’t give a damn!]

Ends 23:10

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