(v) Convention

Begins 2:05pm

[SS Spent at least 30 minutes in a jaw breaking bruxism because the six naive assumptions Eco lists on p 191 of his Theory of Semiotics – that have to be challenged in order to get to ‘real similarity’ – have now been lost in a string of thoughts in subsequent pages. Specifically page 204. I could follow the analysis of the first four naive assumptions, he refers to in roman nemerics as i, ii, iii, iv and now when we arrive at (v) I can no longer follow his ‘train of thought’.   Just when I was feeling happy that I/we were only ninety pages away from the end of the long semiotic tunnel, Eco’s thought train is almost derailing in my head…]

[OS Just ‘be cool’.  Keep calm and Move on. We will call this post ‘convention’ because it is almost an antonym of ‘arbitrary’, which is the main point he was making in his challenge of the fifth naive assumption.]

[SS For feck sake, you are almost as confusing as Eco is.]

[OS I am not getting stuck in here with you.  Let’s just get back out on to the page and try to make sense of Eco’s thoughts on iconism and convention….]

With potential mistakes eliminated from pages 192 to 204, Eco describes moves onto describe ‘real similarity’.  There has to be a cultural convention that allows something, an image for example, to be similar to something else. (p 204)  There is a codified ‘system of expectations’, which allows us to enter into the realm of an artist and accept and understand what it is they may be representing.  Eco cites Ernest Gombrich’s explanation of how the famous artist Constable developed techniques that captured the contrasting tones of light, which were so new that people felt  “he was taking a strange liberty.” (p 204)  Constable produced almost photographic representations of landscape and “…had invented a new way of coding our perceptions of light, and of transcribing it onto canvas (17).” (p 204)

[OS It is amazing to think that Constable’s painting, Wivenhoe Park is nearly an exact image of the field in which Myrtle-the-cow lived/lives.  It is similar to the field in my mind’s eye where Polo, the main character in Text 2 of this PhD, meets Myrtle.  It is also ironic that Constable loved nature.  Ironic because he thinks [man] is ‘sympathetic’ to nature.  If he was alive today, would he be a Climate Change Activist, and appalled by what [man] has/is doing to nature?]

BREAKS 3:10pm

  • “There has never been an age…in which the love of landscape has not in some way been manifested…. [Man’s] nature is congenial with the elements of the planet itself, and he cannot but sympathize with its features, its various aspects, and its phenomena in all situations.”  John Constable, lecture, 1833


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