Perspectives must be fashioned that displace & estrange the world, reveal it to be, with its rifts & crevices, as indigent & distorted as it will appear one day in the messianic light. To gain such perspectives without velleity or violence, entirely from felt contact with its objects — this alone is the task of thought.
The path humankind has been following until now is one of productive limiting — the narrowing of a sign’s application so as to make it useful. In the same stroke, we have been reducing our own potentiality. We have narrowed the scope of meaning in an ideal of significatory standstill; this we call “progress”. Evidently, there is a contradiction in this exclusionary precision which does not describe reality so much as it abridges what it sees.
The dominant constructions of connotation are in question. Usually, linguistics — designating the lowest common denominator of the study of signs — is used as an example to an entire practice of interpretation. Semiotics works to decode the grammar of ruling paradigms so as to understand them. The application of institutionalized semiology today is to simplify life by maximizing communication efficiency. More & more, it’s becoming clear that the answer isn’t in using language that we can gloss over more quickly, rather in pausing to experience language in its richness, with its history, & accepting of its contradiction.
We study linguistics because the response to the ever-relevant questions What to do? What next? How to resist? lies in the interplay of signs. The relationship between actions & words is essential [on the most banal level, spoken language is enabled by movement] & it was not until the development of writing that the contract between them was broken. Humankind has undermined the richness of language in its attempt to stabilize meanings.
Deconstruction is not resistance, while reconstruction is. Not only do various “readers” of a word or text have multifarious reading histories which lead to interpretations equally multifarious, but we must also take into account the reader’s capability to recode a semiotic value. Such recoding is the only means of taking part in the creation of cultural meaning; popularly, this is called art. The name “art” is unsatisfactory as other brands of art can be imagined & have been eventuated under varieties of totalitarian ideology & rule. This propagandistic art does not create cultural meaning, rather it reproduces already-present interpretations to further solidify the illusion of a necessary relationship between signifier & signified. It is easy to attack Communist art on this account, but we must not forget that even under Capitalism the continuous propagation of the myth of self-creation & money serves the same purposes.
The resolution: My resolve is to empower myself by quitting the constant conformity to existing paradigms of communication. I intend this for my day-to-day life as well as in a more profound public gesture of resistance. What’s critical is to become the author of one’s own actions rather than the subject of authoritarian perpetuity. This must come out not only in what we say, but also in everything we consume & do. It belongs to an ideology which discredits the notion that serious resistance must communicate with hegemonic powers directly by claiming that resistance is only possible once the web of signification of those powers is departed. I pronounce “progress”, when used to justify persecution & new forms of colonialism, our greatest enemy. We must not remain so delusional as to use progress as a form of directionless historical inevitability. Modern history has shown us — illustratively in the cases of Egypt, Russia, China, Hungary, & Iran, to name but a few — that the most recent truths are not always the most progressive with regard to human liberties & security. As such, progress & the acquisition of “truths” bear no relation to ethical codes. If we want to live as ethical beings, we cannot rely on progress blindly. Alternatives must be sought; serious alternative can only be sought outside of the common paradigms of communication.