The Subject of Semiotics. Kaja Silverman. This provocative book undertakes a new and challenging reading of recent semiotic and structuralist. “[This book] is intended as a methodological guide to a group of semiotic writings frequently taught in advanced undergraduate courses in North America and. This provocative book undertakes a new and challenging reading of recent semiotic and structuralist theory, arguing that films, novels, and poems cannot be .

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For example, a particular system of lighting characterizes Hol- lywood films of the s and s, where illumination is used to accentuate the female face. Two srmiotics theoreticians — Roland Barthes and Jacques Der- rida — share the last of these concerns, one from a rhetorical and the other from a philosophical point of view. To say that the likeliest confusion of all would be that of the viewer or spoken subject with the subject of speech would be slighdy to misstate the case.

First, it maintains the centrality of psychoanalysis to semiotics; it proposes, that is, that the human subject is to a large degree the subject of semi- otics.

The Subject of Semiotics – Kaja Silverman – Oxford University Press

It only assumes significance within a discursive situation. We would want to stress even more than Freud the social nature of both the preconscious and the unconscious silvegman the de- gree to which both parts of the inner economy are structured by an outer one.

A drive provides a psychic mediation and expression of a physiological phenomenon. Spirit Becomes Matter Henry Staten. However, both wish and fulfillment must be thoroughly disguised or they will be tue by the pre- Primary and Secondary Processes 61 conscious. Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari suggest that those desires are also compatible with capitalism.

It is not only a matter of collateral acquaintance with the object, but with the signifier as well.

Our knowledge of things in themselves is en- tirely relative, it is true; but all experience and all knowledge is knowledge of that which is, independently of being rep- resented. Normally the word- presentation or linguistic signifier would function to dampen down the affective and sensory appeal of the thing-presenta- tion or signified, achieving a victory of the secondary process over the primary.

All three of these theoreticians agree that meaning is much more open- ended than Saussure would have us believe, and that it cannot be isolated from the symbolic order. These codes by no means circumscribe the play of signification, since the reader may easily commute the signifieds they yield into signifiers for further connotative transactions, transactions which will this time be mediated by the cultural codes which he or she brings to the text.


Freud elaborates these two kinds of signification in ways which are so complex, and which have so many ramifications not only for our under- standing of subjectivity but literature and film as well, that the next two chapters will be given over to a lengthy treatment of them. These codes help to reveal some of the relational principles that determine the larger discursive field, otherwise known as the symbolic order.

The Grass I aim to feast thy Sheep: Moreover, since silveeman signifying formations are produced through the collabora- tion of the primary and secondary processes, signification is equally zubject apart from subjectivity.

It has often been noted that too much alliteration or assonance within a given linguistic syntagm tends to interfere with the operations of logical meaning.

He also reveals the ideological basis of those terms, and in so doing attempts to liberate signification from their dominance.

The Subject of Semiotics – Kaja Silverman – Google Books

The desires it cherishes have not only been silenced, but produced by the censoring mecha- nism. She looked pale and puffy. This was the moment when language invaded the universal problem- atic, the moment when, in the absence of a center or origin, everything became discourse. It divides the mind into three areas — memory, the unconscious, and the preconscious. I have tried, that is, to denaturalize the con- dition of woman, and to isolate its cultural determinants.

The history subuect perspective, Impressionist painting, Oriental lithographs, narrative norms, not to mention the examples al- ways cited by Peirce — graphs and algebraic equations — show subkect we need to be schooled in systems of representation before cer- tain signifiers will reveal their iconicity to us.

The sec- ondary process displays considerably more ingenuity in the so- lutions it supplies to those same needs; it is more experimental and innovative in its utilization of the mnemic traces.

The Subject of Semiotics

And while the secondary process brings into existence a more sophisticated and flexible signifying network, with a dou- ble register of acoustic images and concepts, its discursive activ- ities are similarly coerced by the primary process. A large hall — numerous guests, whom we were receiving. semiorics

This is true also of road-signs, which indicate to silvverman initiated that he or she will find a stop-sign, a curve, or a downgrade ahead, but which re- main meaningless to the uninitiated.

We have been speaking here about paradigmatic relation- ships — i. The impulse to conflate those things that exist in a representational or substitutive relation- ship to each other can be seen in all of the signifying forma- tions in which the primary process plays a dominant role, as I will attempt to demonstrate through the complex example of the hysterical symptom. We turn now to semioyics discussion of those signifying processes responsible for the construction of the two very different dis- courses isolated by Benveniste — the conscious and the uncon- scious.


The pas- sage in question describes the effect which certain political or economic events had upon the silvsrman system of nineteenth-cen- tury salons: Signs and interpretants signifiers and signi- fieds would appear to be locked in self-containment. Thus it is a semiotic one plane of which namely the expres- sion plane is a semiotic. Consequently the representational value of each manifest element — i. It enriches what it appro- priates by establishing a homology between the pronouns which confer subjectivity on the speaker of a sentence, and the char- acter representations which confer subjectivity on the viewer of a film.

The first of these activities is the subjext of extraordinary economies; under its influence the part stands for the whole, a single figure represents a diverse group, and geographically remote locations converge in a com- posite image. Thus the mnemic traces to which the unconscious has such vivid access only become signifiers of various desires as a con- sequence of repression i.

One such problem is the assumption thhe whereas con- notation necessarily subjech an ideological coercion of the reader or viewer, denotation engages that reader or viewer at an ideologically innocent level. There is thus a combined double instance in this process: Occasionally one of these signs will in some way re- semble its conceptual object, but that resemblance semiotcis be inci- dental to its status as a symbol.

Condensation and displacement proceed along the paths of similarity and contiguity which link the dream-thoughts to each other and to certain repressed materials. However, I would like to subjct here that such a text would be irreducible to the sorts of mean- ings Barthes discovers in Elle or the Guide bleu. They will consequently be treated as a single unit.

It contains data which are capable of becoming conscious — memories which can be voluntarily recalled. At the same time, he provides us with categories — dia- chrony and speech — by means of which it is possible to negotiate at least a partial peace with historical theories like Marxism.

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