Idiolects

Begins 6:05 pm

[OS Did the walk help?]

[SS We may have climbed to the top of the mountain, but the mountainous weight remains on me.]

As Eco explains the detection of idiolects is difficult because it can hide behind/within societal influences.  Specifically, Eco points to the submission of aesthetic work to ‘commercial’ influences, which produces an effect of a seeming connection to ‘previous idiolectal experiences’ that results in the work becoming “immediately recongizable as ‘true art'”. (p 273) But he argues that does not mean that the ability to isolate an idiolect will produce an aesthetic work.  The only thing its isolation will permit is another work “absolutely identical to the first”. (p 273)  As soon as an imitator understands the idiolect the more likely they will reproduce the model to show they understand what they’ve isolated. (p 273)

Neither reproduction nor criticism of aesthetic art can take full account of the form’s work on lower levels. The addressee not only ‘senses’ the surplus expression and content but also it’s correlating rule.  The process of recognising the rule produces three results that Eco mentions on page 271 of his A Theory of Semiotics. Most importantly a “new type of ‘conversational’ interaction is established between the sender and his addressee”.  (p 273)

The aesthetic text produces a continuous process of transformation where denotations are converted into new connotations.  The contents of the aesthetic text are sign-vehicles for something else.  Pierce recognised that the tension provoked by viewing works of art released feelings similar to those experienced when listening to a piece of music. (cited on p 274)  This release of feelings was considered a form of ‘intuition’ by aestheticians.  Eco considers the intuition-label applied to the aesthetic text as a form of ‘philosophical laziness’.  Art, he claims, not only produce feelings but also further knowledge.  By forcing us to rethink the codes aesthetic ‘readings’ provide an opportunity for ‘semiotic training’. (p 274)  As the knowledge of the code increases our view of the history of aesthetic messages changes, which in turn suggests a possibility for an alternative ordering of the semantic system.  “But to change semantic systems means to change the way in which culture ‘sees’ the world.” (p 274)

[SS Wow.  So works of art can be very powerful.]

[OS It depends on what is meant by power.  But they certainly can have a pervasive influence on how we think and the way we see the world.]

A text that may have seemed extraneous to the norm starts to open up the possibility of challenging notions of ‘states of the world’.  It effects how we acquire knowledge about the world.  It is not that aesthetic texts ”tells the truth”, but poems, plays and paintings can produce a feeling that “maybe ‘things’ are not quite as they usually seem”. (p 275).

To understand the epistemological nature of art Eco proposes a thorough analysis of “the semantic shifting of aesthetic texts”.  Because if they can alter our view of states of the world, as Eco certainly believes they do, then they are “of great importance” to that branch of a theory of sign production that is concerned with the labor of connecting signs with the states of the world”. (p 275)

[SS So it is the feelings aroused by art that pushes us to find out more?  Does that mean every feeling is a marker to/for something else?]

[OS Aesthetic texts are communicational acts.  There are elements of feelings in all acts of communication.  I think when we have a strong emotional response to something it does trigger thoughts, which can lead to action.  Art is a representation of the world we live in and sometimes makes suggestions of other ways to live.  It tests our boundaries.]

One peculiar aspect of aesthetic texts is that it produces a labour that is intended to produce pragmatic relations between communicators.  The labour in aesthetic sign-production is achieved through induction, abduction and deduction.   (p 275) The addressee while trying to maintain loyalty to the sender’s message may have to abduce meaning based on hypothetical testing.  The ambiguity of the text – a feature of aesthetic works – has to be interpreted by the addressee.  (p 275) An addressee may believe they are interpreting the senders message correctly but may get caught between fidelity to the authors inducement and the inventive freedom needed in the labour of interpretation. (p 276)

This interactive process between fidelity and initiative produces two kinds of knowledge:  combinational knowledge and historical knowledge. (p 276)  This explains why art can neither be reduced to ‘a definite formula’ nor ‘foreseen of all its possible outcomes’. (p 276)   Thus a collaborative approach is required whereby an addressee has to fill gaps, reduce or complicate multiple readings, choose interpretive paths, consider, re-read and test presuppositions.

Ends  3: 47 [with a just-collected-boiled-free-range-egg-on-homeade-bread-sandwich in between]

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