Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Fetishism of Signs

Signs, as any other fact in the world are pretty much inexpressive. In all the universe, in every single molecule or particle, you won't find any meaning. Not even in the big bunch of stars. You won't find any in the methane seas of Uranus or in the ammonia wind of Jupiter. Sadly enough you won't find meanings in our beautiful blue planet. Meanings are extracted like a drug by living Turing machine, self-organizing systems that for living are supposed to see information in the surroundings. And to detect information, you need to spread it all around.

The case of meanings is even more complex. Meanings are more than information; they are folded in the environment and subsequently extracted. All the environment is re-mapped to be a meaning-storage. OK funny enough: what is stored, how and most of all by whom??? Let's start by the “simple” one: meanings are stored by complex cognitive architectures of narrative systems, that is to say: the folk, the dudes, us. How. OK, how and what are simultaneous. So what are we storing in the environment? Tools, clues, to facilitate our actions. Let me give you an example: scissors are clearly made to cut: it would be difficult to do it so sharply with bare hands! But in scissors there is more: their shape is supposed in part to guide your movements.If you “wear” a pair, you'll find yourself incredibly in the mood of cutting sharply(this example if from Richard Gregory). You need intelligence to build a tool but also you spread intelligence in the tool and a mate will retrieve some.

Image now to build an entire habitat of such tools. Start with a village. Then go in the forest and tag every plant and animal, with a name and a story. Now bring your little human cub and tell him the names and the stories. You know what you did? I tell ya. You just created a perv. Exactly, the most common human action is just this. The forest now is populated by believes, theorems, songs. You little semiotic monster will see an augmented reality. First he was biting the back of his monkey friend, now he's seeing an environment overpopulated by signs. Now signs are telling him things. Voices. The baby now will see in every fact, a story. Every portion of reality is a narrative fragment. Every meaningless fact in the world is whispering in the overheated head of the baby a clue. The overheated brain will start to pretend he's a mind. Every fragment of a narrative environment is accelerating a brain in to a mind. Now your little big head is a man. He's a semiotic perv: he thinks there are signs and meanings. He's able to see'em, while it's his accelerated overheated brain that is projecting furiously meanings in the fact of the world. And in the projection is able to represent a mind: pure sign fetishism.

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