What is Meaning

From: Nathan (nathan@militant.org)
Date: Thu Nov 09 2000 - 20:56:19 GMT

  • Next message: Mark Mills: "Re: What is Meaning"

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    Date: Thu, 9 Nov 2000 12:56:19 -0800 (PST)
    From: Nathan <nathan@militant.org>
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    Subject: What is Meaning
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    Greetings everyone, I've been reading the list for some time, but this is
    my first posting to it.


    Attached is an excerpt from Re/Search #11, on Pranks. Re/Search magazines are typically composed of a fair number of interviews relating to a subject. This book in particular interviewed people such as Timothy Leary and Abbey Hoffman, and asked them what they thought of pranks. Less the "Yuck, yuck, yuck" pranks, but more the idea of pranks as a realization of the "boundaries" of society.

    On Thu, 9 Nov 2000, Wade T.Smith wrote: > On 11/09/00 07:55, Robin Faichney said this- > >> Perhaps it is philosophy. > > > >Does that comment really mean anything, Wade? :-) > > Only that we're still working on meaning....

    I have been questioning meaning quite a bit lately. I live in the US, and have a distaste for the 'corporate' culture that I find myself surrounded with. Everything is a perception of course, but I have been questioning what creates meaning... I think meaning is similar to the Computer Science (data structures) idea of a "pointer" ; that meaning is used to 'link' things together within our mental maps. - It appears to me that there are different levels of association. Take the english language for example, we have a common idea of what "A" represents. While "A" has little or no meaning in a truely objective sense, our society and culture take letters as given, as presuppositions for our language. We then use combinations of letters to represent larger (more abstract?) ideas, such as words. Then we take words and add syntax, and mix them together to try to communicate information or data (etc.)

    My sociology professor pointed made comment that there was a difference between "truth" and "Truth" - that "truth", is what we have come to learn / believe as true - relative truth - from our perspective. Like the meaning of the letter "A" in the English language. But he pointed out that the idea that there is a "Truth" which exists beyond our perspective, that there is an objective, capitol T, "Truth" - Which I think that the attached excerpt puts some /perspective/ on in the light of society, people, and behavior.

    Words in our language not only have meaning based on their "definition" but the gain meaning from their usage and context. (Context and intonations adding an entire dimension to language in and of itself). I recently moved to Seattle, WA. from Ft Collins, Colorado. Back in Ft Collins, there were two different radio stations that called themselves "The Revolution" - one of which is owned now by Clear Channel Communications (look at what they and a few other companies own, and it starts to make sense why the American public act like they do, but "Manufacturing Consent" and the media's power, are another topic entirely). - I have noticed a lot of things being marketed as rebellious, revolutionary, extreme. Such to the point that most of the words to describe these things have become almost meaningless in and of themselves. It's the memetic equivilant of "the boy who cried wolf" story, where the words are very hard for me to believe, because they are so heavily used. - The problem that I have is how do I describe the real underlying ideas? When their common pointers have been taken and re-appropriated.

    The only solution I have been able to come up with thus far has been use new or unused words. Trying to use my creativity to give old words new meaning, because the words have lost the meaning they have.

    And as if that wasn't enough to bring up all at once, that leads into the question of ideosphere evolution, and the question, is there any way for us to really understand history (our own and that of other people, cultures, etc), when their "reality" may be based on entirely foriegn or deceased memes.

    - thanks, Nathan

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