I really enjoyed the lecture we had today about Semiotics and Structuralism. Key ideas from Saussure, Peirce, and Barthes were discussed. Language was brought up very often, and I believe it is due to the fact that Language is a cornerstone of human civilisation; it is how we perceive the world and communicate in it.
To my understanding from the reading of Terence Hawkes’ book, Language is a closed structure, and human construct that functions independently from the world around us. At first, this concept was difficult to grasp.
Andrew broke this down perfectly for us:
If everyone in the classroom were to decide that by 12 noon, the table would be called “chair” and the chair called “table”, within this room we would have no problems asking each other if “this table was occupied” or “if I could sit on this table”. If we went downstairs to the canteen, we would run in to problems.
Essentially, we all know what a chair is, because it is not a table. Language (as Andrew put it), in a way, is an agreement between a group of people. Therefore, it is a closed system that functions independently from other culture’s perception.
In the afternoon, we were tasked to explore the Tower Block and find new meanings from the commonplace. I drew from my experience in the morning, having to get to the 10th floor class by stairs, feeling disoriented within it and finally getting to the 10th floor feeling breathless. With this in mind, I named the stairwell the “Gas Chamber”, because a Gas Chamber would make you feel breathless and disoriented as well. Who knew the lack of exercise would aid in my learning?