Saturday, September 15, 2012

Ruminations 40: Paradox, Semiotic Circles and An-Ârche in Globalization

There is a universe of meaning in this picture:

We can start with the obvious--it presents (or represents) paradox within paradox; the strikeout itself belies the proposition for which it was drawn. Yet the strikeout is essential as a referent for the context and scope of the meaning to be derived from the proposition that itself is negated by the form of its expression, and which yet cannot be otherwise expressed.   Without the strikeout the statements pull apart.  With the strikeout the statements deny the proposition, and standing alone each remains a vessel without meaning other than the contradictory one of commanding systems that reject command.  And both are posted within a visual frame that itself stresses complex interplays between the words, the images and the meanings (symbolic and applied) represented by each.  It is perhaps not for nothing that the statements are posted against a barrier that itself indicates a significant generator of order within modern technological society. In the absence of the order represented by the barrier there can be no similar space for the an-ârche represented by the words. . . words that are themselves possible only because of the enforced order of rules of language, of conventions for writing and of aggregated and enforced measures for deriving meaning, all of which are meaningless outside of the ordered space within which dis-order is structured.  An elegant semiotic circle with profound implications for approaching the study of modern governance orders. (Jan M. Broekman and Larry Catá Backer, Lawyers Making Meaning....: The Semiotics of Law in Legal Education II (Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer; 2013 edition).

And thus--globalization and modern political and economic order! 


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Larry Catá Backer said...

From Robert Marriott:
I only have a couple of fairly obvious contributions to your "riddle". I would begin by observing that both comments are presented in the imperative form, such that each statement has its own grammatic element of meaning, which when found in both statements continues to exist independent of the self-negation the two statements have in their frame. Additionally, I would render explicit the positivist and assertive nature of the visual frame; graffiti is by its nature a special kind of signifier, but its meaning is rarely presented in the vernacular: much of graffiti is presented in a discourse-specific cant. The first statement in fact straddles this distinction, while the second is a refutation of this very blending of vernacular and anarchic discourses. The net effect is that while the first claimant reflects a radical political message that seeks to cross/reject discourse boundaries, the second statement is a conservative rejection of the rejection, no less radical or world-consuming in its import. It is not only in the union, but in the commonality of these presentations, that the modern political and economic order is to be understood!