MIT 1200 Lecture 8: Semiotics II

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Media, Information and Technoculture
Media, Information and Technoculture 3214F/G
Sharon Sliwinski

MIT 1200 Lecture March 16, 2011 Semiotics II Ma Vie en Rose - Ludovig uses signs that construct a female gender - hair, makeup, dress, etc. - Myth is a type of speech. It is not defined by the object of its message, but by the way it utters its message; myth is a mode of signification, a form. - Barthes is trying to account for the way social meaning gets stuck to raw material. Why does lipstick (sometimes made out of lead, fish scales) become a marker for social meanings? - Trying to figure out the connotative level of meaning. Tree - Drawn by a clumsy child - A child too poor to buy colour crayons - Tree, I come to thee. Console me for being only me. - Minou Drouet - Barthes starts in the world of linguistic messages. - He dismisses the differences between types of signs. He wants to talk about more than just language. Myth can be a painting, speech, diagram, a cup, etc. - Mythology can be understood through semiotics; it is a study of ideas-in-forms - p.112 footnote: You don’t see many signs on the sea, but on the beach there are tons: bathing suits, physical signs, flipflops, etc. Ferdinand de Saussure - Taught a course in university called General Linguistics that he knew nothing about. He discovered that language is a science. - In his book on the course of General Linguistics: - Semiotics postulates a relation between three terms: the signifier, the signified, and the sign (the latter being the associative total of the first two terms) - Barthes example: Roses. - Signifier: roses, carrier of meaning, the word. Signified: what I mean when I do that; passionate love. The content. Sign Signified Signifier “the mental concept” “the acoustic image” small, fury, four legged C-A-T creature - - Arbitrary relationship depending on where you are - Cats are also called chats, depending on where you live/what language you speak - Semiotics bare no relationship to things in the world - The thing that language is trying to point to is somehow severed: cats don’t know that they are cats. MIT 1200 Lecture March 16, 2011 - Myth, for Barthes, is a second-order semiotic system. Like this: Paris Match Cover; photo French Imperialism of Black soldier saluting the Flag Signifier/form Signified/concept Sign (the myth itself) - Barthes wants to bring Saussures system into politics. - A mythologist is not a linguist per say; we’re interested in the way that signs lead to myth, not just language. p.116: Magazine Cover (Paris Match) - Form: Barthes is interested in how the magazine gets you to look at it - Concept: French imperialism. Why imperialism? Because it’s a black soldier. He does not immediately strike you as a native of France - The Myth Itself: What are the ideological relations that are being sold to us? - French Colonial Empire (from 1600’s - 1950’s) consisted of a lot of Canada, Northern Africa, Haiti, etc. - France was involved in the slave trade - The education system would have been dominated by French ideas. You would be taught that slavery was a good thing. - France was considered the seat of development that African countries were expected to strive towards - By the time that Barthes is writing this is 1955 there is resistance; the French empire started collapsing. Colonies were fighting violently against French rule. French officials were secretly murdering leaders in various African countries; they wanted to keep everything the way it was because it gave them economic dominance. - To have a young Black soldier saluting the French flag as his people were being murdered is a political message. It’s a motivated ideology. - “Myth is depoliticized speech” - Signification distorts meaning; this black soldiers gesture is being appropriated to signal some kind of natural fact of the French empire. Used to establish legitimacy of French Imperialism. - Three colours, one flag, one empire (pro French-Empire poster) - It seems so natural, that it goes without saying. But it’s not. It looks as though connotation is being passed for denotation, but it’s not. - Canadian Armed Forced Commerical - Signifier (form) - North and east coast, battleships and planes - Two narratives spliced together: plane going down in the North and people are being deployed to go save them. The second one is people quickly throwing things off board, drugs, pirate scenario. - Aesthetic of commercial: dark, blues and greys. No sunshine, grass, cars. No melody to the music mostly just rhythm. - Two slogans: Fight Distress, Fight Chaos. - Signified (concept) - Rescue missions and protecting our borders from piracy MIT 1200 Lecture March 16, 2011 - You will become a hero if you join the army. - How could you not help people that are in trouble? Sense of obligation - Subtle masculinity; showing that they want women too. - Sympathy and righteousness - You’ll be working in Canada. The Canadian Forces are not about occupation, we’re protecting our borders. This implies that you wouldn’t be going to Afghanistan. - We’re not fighting other people (except maybe the pirates) we’re not shooting people, but protecting ourselves. Strong Myths vs. Weak Myths - A large quan
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