(iv) Reflections

Begins 3:00pm

The fourth naive assumption regarding iconic signs is that of ‘Reflections, Replicas and Empathetic Stimuli’.  So far in the development of his theory, Eco claims that transformation seems to be the best operational explanation of the impression of iconism. (p201)

Similarity and analogy are the vehicles of the operational transformation of iconism.  But there are some ’embarassing’ phenomena, requiring elimination, that may be included as subheadings of similarity.  These are:

  1. Specular Reflections
  2. Doubles and Replicas
  3. Expressive Signs

The first, specular reflections, Eco categorically state, are not signs.  They are a virtual image that stand in front of something, not for something, as signs do.  They exist because of something not instead of something, as signs do.  Specular reflections disappear without a trace as soon as the image of reflection disappears. (p 202)

The second, Doubles and replicas are also excluded in the definition of similarity as iconic transformation.  A ‘double’ is only an icon of its model-object in very specific cases and its lack of constancy and consistency is close to the problem of specular reflections.  Replicas are excluded because: “The very notion of a sign and of its replicability (and thus of its social nature) depends on postulating that such a recognition is possible.” (p 203)

The third exclusion is that of ‘expressive’ properties of certain signals.  For example, Kandinskij studied and claimed that a single line could evoke/express a range of feelings from weakness to force.  But, their expression is neither worthy of confirmation of denial as they belong to realm of physiology and nervous system responses.  They are not, Eco claims, based on the properties of the ‘universal’ human mind and do not deserve consideration within a semiotic framework.  With two exceptions: 1/ When the precise effect is culturally recorded. 2/ When there is a conventional coded link between signal and feeling. (p 204)

[OS Note.  An analyst of the current leadership debates in the Irish political campaign described one leaders use of ‘his pointing finger’ as ‘iconic and symbolic’.  He then went further in his analysis suggesting that the ‘pointing finger’ in this instance was a representative of a gun.  I first thought, was this analyst aware that he was referring to semiotics.  That it was semiotics that points to her understanding of pointing fingers?  I also thought, it was clear that he was trying to create a feeling from this iconic gesture and sway audiences into interpreting it as a violent gesture and an historical marker.  The leader was Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein.  I think Eco would reject the conclusion the ‘body language analyst’ drew that pointing fingers are extensions of guns. The Late Late Show, Presented by Ryan Tubridy, Friday, 20 February 2016, 11pm]

[SS I think Eco would be proud of your analysis of the analyst’s analysis of the pointing finger!]

Ends 3:45

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