Introduction to Semiotics of Cultures, 2010
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Introduction to Semiotics of Cultures, 2010 Juri Lotman – Universe of the Mind Chapter 2 I-I and I-S/he communication. Vesa Matteo Piludu. University of Helsinki. Chapter 2 I – S/he I - I. Communication system I-S/he Adresser I Context – Message - Contact - Code

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Introduction to Semiotics of Cultures, 2010Juri Lotman – Universe of the MindChapter 2I-I and I-S/he communication

Vesa Matteo Piludu

University of Helsinki

Chapter 2 I – S/he I - I

  • Communication system I-S/he

  • Adresser I

  • Context – Message - Contact - Code

  • AdresseeS/he

  • Information transferred in space

  • Relevance: quantity of information

  • Media

I - I

  • Self-communication

  • Self-reflection on meanings

  • Information can be transferred in time (reminders)

  • Mnemonic

  • Or creative function (supplementary information)

  • Addresser and addressee remain the same, but the message is reformulated and acquire new meanings or is expressed in new languages

  • Relevance: quality of information

  • Art

The I – I communication

  • The I –I communication is sensible to external codes or different languages (music, visual codes, architecture), or messages and texts

  • Isn’t produced in monastic isolation

Example 1: Dream at sea by Tyuchef

  • Both the sea and the storm rocked our boat

  • Drowsy I gave myself over entirely to the whim of waves

  • There were two infinites in me

  • An they began willfully to play with me.

  • Around me the rocks sounded like cymbals

  • The winds answered and waves sang.

  • Deafened I lay in the chaos of sounds,

  • But my dreams rose up over the chaos of sounds

Example 1:I – I and foration of new messages

  • I - I

  • Message 1 (importance of sounds)

  • Is transformed in Message 2 (importance of sounds for the self)

  • Code 1 (music) – Code 2 (poetry)

Example 2: Eugene Onegin a novel in verse written by Alexander Pushkin

  • All translation by Charles Johnson available as Google-book or Penguin classic

  • Chapter 8 / XXXVI - Universe of Mind, page 24

  • What happened? Thought his eyes were reading,

  • His thought were on a distant goal:

  • Desires and dreams and grieves were breeding

  • And swarming in his inmost soul.

  • Between the lines of text as printed,

  • His mind’s eyes focused on the hinted

  • Purport of other lines; intense

  • Was his absorption in theirs sense.

Example 2: Eugene Onegin a novel in verse written by Alexander Pushkin

  • Chapter 8 / XXXVI - Universe of Mind, page 24

  • Legends, and mystical traditions,

  • Drawn from a dim, warm-hearted past,

  • Dreams of inconsequential past,

  • Rumors and threads and premonitions,

  • Long, lively tales from wonderland,

  • Or letters in a young girl’s hand.

Example 2: Eugene Onegin a novel in verse written by Alexander Pushkin

  • Chapter 8 / XXXVII - Universe of Mind, page 24

  • Then gradually upon sensation,

  • And though, a sleepy numbness steals;

  • Before his eyes, imagination

  • Bring out its faro pack, and deals.

  • Chapter 8 / XXXVIII - Universe of Mind, page 24

  • Who could have looked the poet better,

  • As in the nook he’d sit alone

  • By blazing fireplace, and intone

  • Idol mioor Benedetta,

  • And on the flames let fall unseen

  • A slipper, or a magazine?

Example 2: Eugene Onegin a novel in verse written by Alexander Pushkin

  • Codes supporting I-I communication (self reflecion):

  • Printed texts (source for imagination)

  • Flickering of fire

  • The intoned tunes

  • The hero is not searching for an immediate message in the texts

  • He is reading between the lines

  • The book serve to stimulate the flow of the thoughts: the faro pack of his imagination

  • The intrusion of other codes (fire, texts, music) organize and stimulate the internal monologue of the hero

Buddist monk and stone park

  • The Mathematical rhythm of the sand garden / stone parks evoke a mood conducive to introspection

  • Karesansui, or "dry gardens," are abstract representations of natural landscapes in which stones, gravel, sand, and moss are used to depict mountains, rivers, and islands

Stone – Sand gardens

Japanese Zen Garden, Kyushu, Japan

Japanese Zen Garden

Kinkaku-ji or 'the Golden Pavilion - Kyoto

Nijo-jo [jo=castle], exterior and garden It was the Tokugawa Shogun's Kyoto residence

A Zen Buddhist temple priest rakes gravel in a Kyoto garden

Human communication

  • Based on two models

  • I-s/he:

  • Already given information transmitted from one person to another using the same code

  • I-I

  • Increase of information (new ideas), its transformation, reformulation using new codes

  • Self-discovery, auto-psychotherapy

Problems of I-I communication

  • Vygotsksy

  • The internal speech is soundless

  • This create a problem when it’s necessary to express it by sounds or words

  • Kyukhebeker(prison diary):

  • “I have been dreaming not of objects, or events, but some kind of abbreviations which relate to them like hieroglyphs to a picture”

  • Intense symbolization

  • This can lead to cryptography or a form of writing understandable only by the writer

  • Sometimes mnemonic draft (done by musicians or writers) are not comprehensible for other people

Example: Pushkin love anagrams

  • Creative I – I communication could lead to a kind of innovative cryptography, anagrams, creative writing

  • Pushkin, 1928, poem: Alas! The tongue of garrulous love

  • Dedicated to Anna Alekseevana Olenina

  • Jotting:

  • Ettenna eninelo

  • Eninelo ettenna

  • Olenina

  • Annette

  • Anagram of the name and surname of Anna, Annette in French

  • The repetition create an hypnotic rhythm, similar to a love spell

Tension between the codes

  • If a message in a natural language

  • Is followed by a supplementary code (rhythmical)

  • There is tension between the two codes

  • As a result the

  • the text could be interpreted following the secondary code (the rhythmical)

  • But the normal semantic values remain valid

Texts used as codes

  • A text is used as a code

  • When it does not add simple informative messages

  • But it transform the self-understanding of the person who has engendered the text

  • And it transfers already existing messages into a new system of meanings

Example: Pushkin’s Tatyana (Onengin)

  • Tatyana read novels in that way:

  • Seeing herself a creation

  • Clarissa, Julie, or Delphine

  • By writers of her imagination,

  • Tatyana, lonely heroine,

  • Roamed the still forest like a ranger,

  • Sought in her book, that text of danger

  • And found her dreams, her secret desire;

  • She signed, and in trance co-opted

  • Another’s joy, another breast,

  • Whispered by hearth a note addressed

  • To the hero that she’d adopted.


  • The text of Tatyana is not a simple media message, like news

  • But a code, a new language, a model for reinterpreting reality

Poetic and artistic texts

  • Oscillate between the I – s/he and the I-I communication

  • Both are present


  • As a whole is more oriented towards self-reflective communication, but the element of I-s/he communication are always present

  • The literate generally has a negative attitude towards the standard message texts

  • The poetic text could be even in conflict with some laws of the natural language

  • But also in the most extreme cases, avant-garde poetry is perceived as a text in a natural language (French, Russian)

  • Otherwise it couldn’t fulfill his communicative function

  • Poetry is a pendulum, oscillating between I-s/he and I-I systems

Art and culture

  • The laws of construction of an artistic text are very largely the laws of construction of culture as a whole

  • There are cultures (media) where the I-s/he channel is predominant:

  • Cultural consumer as ideal addressee

  • great quantity or bombing of information

  • few self-reflection, passivity

  • Education as acquisition of knowledge

  • And other more oriented to auto communication (avant-garde)

Folk culture

  • The participant of a carnival are all receivers and senders of information: they are generally all actives

  • The system of language (folk song) could be formal and structured, but the contents are often free

  • The listener could be a singer and he could transform the song in his future performance

  • A modern theatergoer, if isn’t a theatre professional, is more passive than a storyteller

  • The folk cultures are however less dynamic in terms of acquisition of new knowledge

The perfection in the middle

  • The most viable cultures are those system

  • Where the struggle between the two systems has not resulted in an all-out victory for one of them

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