Keep Smiling

Begins 4:18pm

Smiles, perfumes and symphonies are examples Eco uses to illustrate the intertwined nature of modes of sign production.  Paintings are also complex and multi-faceted but they are texts not signs.  They involve many types of activities “practically covering the entire range of semiotic labour [discussed previously] in Tables 31 and 39.” (p 259)

[OS I want my eulogy to be about smiles.  Mary came into the world with a smile on her face and left with an ever bigger one!]

[SS Bet you are not smiling now.  I am ragged tired today and glad we had the foresight to have all our notes gathered and ready so writing up easier.]

The range of activity can move from “a coded detectable unit (<Mr. So and So>) to an infinite discourse or a content-nebula”. (p 259-260)  In the case of a painted portrait, a type is created as the portrait becomes accepted and recognised within a culture.  What starts in one historical period as an invention becomes a stylization with time.

Although apparently obvious, Eco argues that it is important to recognise that the degree of textual complexity results in a more complex relationship between the expression and the content.  But even so we must always isolate precise sign-functions where and when possible. (p 260)

Eco advises semiotic examinations of aesthetic texts as they offer a “sort of summary and laboratory model of all aspects of sign-functions.” (p 261)  The importance of aesthetic texts can be viewed in five levels the last of which produces new types of “awareness about the world.”  (p 261) There is full engagement from the sender who focuses on the possible reactions of the addressee, who in turn attends to a “complex labour of interpretations.” (p 261)

Aesthetic texts also offer clues to unsolved philosophical theories!

[SS He really does cover a whole range of disciplines in his Theory.  I hadn’t realised that semiotics, at least Eco’s theories of it, also include philosophy, sociology, anthropology, logic.  He is full of surprises!]

Suspended 4:39pm

Resumed at 6:18pm

Aesthetic definitions of art notoriously rest on what is felt. The effect of aesthetic art is well documented and its cosmic reach extends to the universe..  According to Croce “the whole of the cosmos breathes within the artistic representation, the individual pulsates with the life of the whole, and the whole is revealed in the life of the individual.” (cited in Eco p 262).

[SS Wow.  Is this guy for real?]

We know aesthetic art elicits strong feelings, but we do not know why that is so.  According to Eco, semiotics may provide us with an answer. (p 262)

[SS Eco always seems to ask a question, promises an answer, but then never quite gives one!]

[OS “Keep Smiling.  Keep Shining.  Knowing you can always count on [Eco], for sure! That’s what [semiotics] is for.”  Lyrics from That’s What Friends Are For, by Dionne Warwick]

Ends 6:31 pm

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