Select Page

I spent the day reading and writing notes on semiotics and hermeneutics, revisiting a lot of books I haven’t seen in a long time. Passages in particular:

“Words get their meanings by interacting with other words. Every word in a sentence leaves its traces on the word behind and is open to the word ahead. Every word marks or is marked by other words. Only within the web of the total language can any one element have (partial) meaning; and since language is, theoretically at least, always open, there never is a final word.”  (outgoing link:  Art History’s History, Vernon Hyde Minor)

And:

“In a universe dominated by the logic of similarity (and cosmic sympathy), the interpreter [of texts/art] has the right and the duty to suspect that what one believed to be the meaning of a sign [letter or image] is, in fact, the sign for a further meaning.This makes clear [an] underlying principle of Hermetic semiosis. If two things are similar, then one can become the sign for the other and vice versa. ” (outgoing link: Interpretation and Overinterpretation (Tanner Lectures in Human Values), Umberto Eco)

I had to look up Hermetic semiosis: “an underlying principle of hermetic semiosis: “from a certain point of view everything bears relationships of analogy, contiguity, and similarity to everything else.”

Dennis Dutton does a nice job of summarizing Interpretation/Overinterpretation here:

The thing I like about this book is that it gets into the gritty of how one can find something beautiful or offensive in every work of art (literature/music/film/visual/dance, etc.) and that for me, it is a reminder to consider that there is often no pleasing anyone, much less everyone.

I’ve also been reading up on Duchamp & Language, some notes I’ll record later.