Factoid: the servers that host the apparently-boring
are co-located with those that host the apparently-jocular
Coincidence, or ominous presentiment?
Books I've finished lately
I promised to talk about Roland Barthes's "Empire of Signs", and now that I've finally finished it here I am. I said this about it on Amazon.com:
Mind-tickling. Not About Japan. (Four stars)One large idea that Barthes circles around in the book is that you can have a sign without any representation; a sign that is not a sign of anything. Or at least that you can approach that (or at least that you can write a book about a semi-fictional place where things sometimes approach that).
Now this seems silly on the face of it. A sign is a sign only if it does signify, surely? If the inkmarks on a piece of paper aren't a sign of something else, then they are just atoms, just inkmarks on paper, and they aren't a "sign" in any useful sense.
On the other hand, our notion of "sign" isn't really that simple. If you take a toilet from the bathroom (where it isn't a sign, just a toilet), and put it in a glass case in a museum, it's not just a toilet anymore. Is it a sign? Things behind glass cases in museums are always signs, so of course it is. But is it a sign of anything?
Less bizarrely, non-representational art in general (most music, some sculpture, some painting, even some literature) isn't a sign of anything, but somehow it seems to partake of the universe of signs nonetheless. A string quartet isn't a sign of anything (in particular?), but somehow it's also not just a bunch of vibrations in the air.
The Mona Lisa, or this, or even simple thin