Vector8 Journals

Friday, May 20, 2005

Some Thoughts About Communication

We all know one useful method we use to communicate is through the use of language. But the words we use are mere signs of what we wish to express. Though signs are fine attempts, I believe this way of communicating to be extremely limiting. I now draw on Roland Barthes' ideas of Semiotics to illustrate my point.

Let's take the computer as an example. The word "computer" whether said out loud or in thought is what Barthes refers to as the signifier. What is evoked i.e. the image that comes to mind of a contraption with a screen, attached to a keyboard and mouse, he calls the signified. The actual computer that feels hard to the touch is the referent. The signifier or "computer", the idea or signifier, and the real life computer or referent make up the sign.

Signifier + Signified + Referent = Sign
Another example. Let's say someone is speaking about Enocia. The name "Enocia" is the signifier. What is being signified for that particular individual might be an image of a woman who travels a lot by bus and shares her experiences on a blog called Vector8 Journals. The referent is the person. All three - signifier, signifier and referent - make up the human sign.

But can anyone actually know the real Enocia? Who is the real Enocia? If people believe they know the real me through what I've written on Vector8 Journals, all I can say is: "Good luck!" I would also add that whoever believes the sign, Enocia, is the truth of who I am is making a "graven image" of me. As it is written in the scriptures:

"Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth." (Exodus 20: 4)
The sign, Enocia, is a representation of Infinity but not Infinity. Enocia is vast beyond definition. The only way to know the truth about Enocia is to go beyond the sign.

Now do you see why communication using words, that are mere signs, is not a reliable method of attaining Truth? Granted, signs are useful representations of Truth, but they are only maps. "The map is not the territory." Truth is beyond signs and concepts. Truth is in the silence.

Isn't it interesting how some people feel uncomfortable when they are sitting in silence? They feel they need to speak, to share out loud. I can just see it now, the British prime minister, Tony Blair, and the other cronies having parliamentary Question Time in silence. Hehehe! I can dream, can't I?

Beyond signs, concepts and ideas, I am,