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March 1996, Week 1


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Mike Frank <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 1 Mar 1996 11:25:24 -0400
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i think that peter's comments on a "usable semiotics," though suggestive,
misses at least one of semiotics' main contributions to this ongoing
discussion of meaning, namely that meaning is NOT a function of discrete
elements (like the symbol dove, or even the word dove, or even the word
peace) which maintain a stable signifying valence across discourses . . . i
think it was jane tompkins who put this so nicely in suggsting that the
railroad concept  "the 7:19 to dubuque" can refer on two successive dayus to
two trains which have NO discrete parts in common . . . that is, the actual
equipment being used is different, the crew is different, the passengers are
different, and if--as is not uncommon--one is a bit late, they don't even
operate at exactly the same time . . . yet both are iterations of the same
signifier: "the 7:19 to dubuque" . . .
. . . in any case semiotics was NEVER conveived as a "how to" thing -- like
the rules of grammar or gravity, it merely formulates the principles guiding
procedures which we are already very very familiar and which we do very
nicely, thank you, without thinking at all about how we do them
mike frank
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