Monday, 14 October 2013

Semiotics of "Post-Modern" Angst

In my last posting I mentioned something about the "aesthetics" of maturely-developed orthographies (such as English - though my readings of Umberto Eco would suggest to me that there is an angst pervading the whole of the "Western" culture). I suggested that the orthography of English is a historical documentation of the evolution of the language.

Now, it has just occurred to me (and I haven't really thought this out) that perhaps, in some small but significant way, part of the "post-modern" angst and the reaction of intolerance to intellectualism and the resultant hyper-partisan (however artificial) distinctions may be a subconscious repulsion to how "scientific/philosophical" ideas are couched in "foreign" -sounding and -looking words.

In such a text-based society as the western world it would hardly be surprising that the inarticulable sense of dread of losing personal and societal control would solicit such a reaction. The methods and processes of neologisms in scientific discourse coupled with the ever-increasing apparent meaninglessness of sloganeering of the so-called free market economy and hyper-partisan politics...the utter and complete alienation and lashing out/imperative to self-harm is logically inevitable.

This alienation is nothing new to colonialized peoples but to see the giving up and resignation en masse of trying to understand the language when its one's own...scary. Subtlety and the ability to think not only metaphorically but also in abstract terms is lost.

Perhaps in thinking about the typical trend of widening gaps between formal religious/social structures and personal experience prompted the great Anglican mystic Thomas Traherne (1636-1674) to observe:

By this you may see who are the rude and barbarous Indians: For verily there is no savage nation under the cope of Heaven, that is more absurdly barbarous than the Christian World. They that go naked and drink water and live upon roots are like Adam, or Angels in comparison of us. (Traherne, Centuries of Meditations: Third Century, sect. 12)

Jay

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