A Discourse over Content-Nebulas

Begins 6pm

A large number of content-units whose combination has yet to be coded is a type of discourse.  Discourse challenge conventional sign-functions because they require new combinations of cultural units, or ‘content-nebulas’ as Eco calls them, that either have pre-coded content, or require new code generation. (p187)

Eco divides discourse into two types: factual statements of un-heard of events; and undefinable content units.  The first refers to new combinations of existing cultural units (content-nebulas) of which the content system is recognisable and classified.  The content is identifiable, but the form is not. For example, a /golden mountain/ or /red elephants/ living on the moon.  Individually, these content units are recognisable, but the fact that they are put together requires a new world view. (p188)

[SS Why are you doing this?]

[OS Because we have to prove our worthiness to write what we want to write in the other text?  To prove that there is meaning to what we write.]

[SS Isn’t that another form of bullshit?  Aren’t you just playing a game.  Does it really matter that we understand Eco?]

[OS Yes it does.  In the same way it ‘matters’ that we understand anyone, including ourselves.]

[SS But why?  Why is it that our understanding only grows when we read, re-read and read again?  Can’t anyone then understand the meaning of this text we are supposed to be analysing?]

[OS Of course anyone can understand anything.  Well, maybe that’s not a given.  But, certainly if we chose we can.  The brain is capable and get used to anything.]

[SS But not everyone has the time, or the luxury, to be able to give attention to understanding.]

[OS I think we should move on with our goal/challenge of finishing the analysis of pages 187-188, otherwise we could also get bogged down in repetition and circular confusion.  Let’s keep the vector pointing forward…]

[SS Like Eco’s bloody /pointing finger/?!]

The second ‘type’ of discourse are those that have undefinable content units.  Unlike factual statements, these pose a new set of problems, according to Eco.  The content-nebula cannot be analysed into recognisable and definable content units.  These are rule-changing creative processes where codes and content have to be invented.  This leads to a paradoxical situation where “the sign producer has a fairly clear of what he would like to ‘say’, but he does not know how to say it; and he cannot know how to do so until he has discovered precisely what to say”.

[SS Oh no, not another one of Eco’s paradoxes!]

[OS There are only two he has mentioned so far.  Don’t be so melodramatic.]

[SS Life is a paradox.  Life is death.  Death is life.  And writing this PhD feels like a case of life and/or death.  I need to get out of here…]

Ends 7:17 [less a five minute call from the US taken in between]

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