Re: Abstractism

From: Grant Callaghan (
Date: Sat Feb 02 2002 - 16:42:45 GMT

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    From: "Grant Callaghan" <>
    Subject: Re: Abstractism
    Date: Sat, 02 Feb 2002 08:42:45 -0800
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    >Information is in configuration, when it is, because we intentionally
    >arrange the configurations in order to put the information there for the
    >purposes of communicating it to others. In fact, a bad interpretation may
    >cause the reader to misconstrue the intended meaning of the writer, but
    >(s)he still construes it in some (usually pretty close) way (people rarely
    >mistake messages about foot massages for messages about african safaris,
    >for example), and (s)he is able to do this because the words in the message
    >are commonly understood (through teaching the language, that is, the
    >meanings of the words of which it is comprised) to refer to, well,
    >referents, that is, things other than themselves, that is, WE refer the
    >words to other than themselves (words have an irreduceable 'aboutness' to
    >them), but the overwhelming predominance of english speakers do not refer
    >the word 'elephant' to a (mental image of a) gnat, which is an example of
    >why messages are not completely arbitrary (they are anchored in the
    >meanings of the words of which they are comprised). You may like to try
    >reading some hermeneutics; the basic fellow there is Paul Ricoeur. Study
    >especially textuality and the dialectic between distanciation and
    >appropriation to establish proper interpretive distance.
    > >
    > >> Unless they are physically configured in the commonly agreed upon
    > >and these shapes are combined in commonly agreed upn ways to form
    > >agreed upon words, we read nothing.
    > >>>>
    > >
    > >Exactly. It's our interpretation of the configurations, not the
    > >configurations themselves, in which the meaning lies.
    > >
    >The meaning, once again, has been intentionally encoded in the
    >configuration in such a manner that it may be (hopefully
    >correctly)apprehended by others. it is latent meaning, and requires
    >9nteraction with the perceptual apparaus of a person literate in the
    >language in order to manifest, but in the absence of the configuration,
    >such a person could stare at a blank page for millennia and not get a
    >message 9except the message that there is no message there).
    > >
    > >> There is a huge physical and configurational difference between ink
    > >spilled on a page and ink written on that page in the form of words.
    > >>>>
    > >
    > >And it's in our interpretation of this configurational difference that
    > >determines what is "word" and what is not.
    > >
    >That interpretation is one that has been created, learned and taught, is in
    >one sense arbitrary (another word could have been defined to mean the same
    >thing, if history had been a litle different) and by mutual convention (we
    >cannot interpret any configuration in any old way and expect to communicate
    >with or comprehend the communications of others; that is, there are
    >standards of word-reference association necessary to being considered
    >literate in a language).
    > >
    > >> I think that just about everyone here (with the possible exception of
    > >would agree that information is encoded in configuration.
    > >>>>
    > >
    > >You better call on the herd to back you up, 'cause you've got nothing
    > >
    >Except logic and evidence. And you would not have been able to read and
    >understand the words in this sentence if I had not typed them in. The
    >meaning of the sentence requires its presence as well as yours, and
    >requires not only that it be physically configured in specific ways
    >(encoded in the english language), but also that your brain be configured
    >in specific ways (with the meaning-referent associations for the words
    >stored in your neuronal-synaptic-dendritic-axonal pattern-configurations.
    >Anyone more intelligent than a cow can understand this.
    > >
    > >Ted

    The Rorschach test conveys information to some of the people who see it,
    even though no information was transmitted. Communication is a transaction
    between a speaker or writer and a listener or reader. The transmitter has
    encoded the message is a format he expects his receiving audience to have
    mastered before he transmits.

    The audience may get only the message sent or some members may get more than
    the information encoded. The way a person speaks or writes speaks volumes
    beyond the message itself. Members of the audience may also take the
    incoming data and examine it in the light of their own experience and create
    meanings with it that were not intended by the transmitter. Some might hear
    the message as a voice of doom while another hears the same message as a
    sign of hope. The reciever is as much involved in the transaction as the
    sender. He makes judgements about the data and the source of the data and
    compares it with the pool of knowledge he retains about the subject the
    message is about.

    While the method of encoding the data is important to its transmission, the
    message thus encoded can be lost, misconstrued or ignored. The receiver has
    to do the work of decoding the message and make an effort to understand the
    intent of the sender. Just writing and broadcasting the words is not

    Transmitting an idea is a complicated process that goes far beyond keying
    words onto a surface for someone to read.


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