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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Lists with This Book. 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.

The Subject of Semiotics

Since for Freud the only motivating force behind the operations of either uncon- scious or preconscious is want, and since the idea of want as- sumes a deficiency, those perceptions would seem to be of a primarily negative sort — i. And what late change? It stands for that object, not in all respects, but in reference to a sort of idea, which I have sometimes called the ground. Bound up in each copy there was a dried spec- imen of the plant, as though it had been taken from a herbar- ium.

Chapter 3 will attempt to show that condensa- tion and displacement represent the habitual response of the primary process to similarity and contiguity, while paradigm and syntagm constitute the normal response of the secondary process. Benveniste emphasizes the radical discontinuity which characterizes the condition of subjectivity, its constant stops and starts.

For instance, the stranger who first inspires in Aschenbach the inclination to travel is standing in a mortuary chapel, and the gondola which transports the latter to the Venetian landing combines the values of voluptuousness and loss-of-being: Chapter 3 accounts for the sets condensation and displacement, metaphor and metonymy, and paradigm and syntagm in terms of these processes, thereby Preface IX demonstrating the impossibility of isolating even the most ru- dimentary of signifying formations from subjectivity.

We have already dealt with the first of these, but the other two warrant further consideration. Then, what does 1 refer tq? The first and third subjects may or may not coincide. 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.

Displacement involves the transfer of psychic intensity from an unacceptable element to an accept- able one, while condensation effects the formation of a new signifier from a cluster of previous signifying materials thus a dream image combines the face of one person, the dress of another, the name of a third, and the voice of a fourth.


The Danish linguist Louis Hjelmslev not only isolated the category much earlier, but in Prolegomena to a Theory of Lan- guage formulated the model with which Barthes works in Myth- ologies: This is dense theory.

At one point The Interpretation of Dreams encourages us to think of the subject in terms of its interior divisions, one of which houses that sys- tem associated with conscious discourse, and another of which accommodates the raw materials of unconscious discourse. They formulate the repressed wish or wishes in such Primary and Secondary Processes 63 a way that they are acceptable to the psychic censor, i. But because lighting often participates in the representation of day and night, and sometimes emanates from lamps and light fixtures which pro- vide part of the setting, it can also generate iconic signifiers.

Not only is the content of each likely to contrast markedly with the other, but the form as well. Injections of that sort ought not to be made so thought- lessly. A presenta- tion which is not put into words, or a psychical act which is not hypercathected, remains thereafter in the Ucs.

We have just tested that assumption against a passage from Bleak House, dis- covering in the process that a complex network of signification underlies even the smallest and least ostentatious of textual units.

It effectively closes off all significatory play through the assertion of tran- scendental meaning. Each member of the group is assigned a trial date, and on that occasion he or she is summoned before the others to face an exhaustive inquiry into his or her war crimes.

New mnemic traces are xubject being added.

Be the first to ask a question about The Subject of Semiotics. The pas- sage in question describes the effect silveman certain political or economic events had upon the closed system of nineteenth-cen- tury salons: The displacement of desire away from the memories of var- ious images of Balbec, Venice, and Florence onto the words themselves dramatizes what is probably the most interesting of all the primary and secondary interactions, since it brings the latter process under the domination of the former, and re- verses the usual order of psychic events.

Saus- From Sign to Subject, A Short History 13 sure zubject deal almost exclusively with closed, systemic thd ships. Even in spring, to come upon the name of Balbec sufficed to awaken in me the desire for storms at sea and for the Norman gothic; even on a stormy day the name of Florence or of Venice would awaken the de- sire for sunshine, for lilies, for the Palace of the Doges and for Santa Maria del Fiore.


Moreover, since the unconscious is constituted in opposition to the preconscious, it is as fully de- fined as is the latter sjbject culture. It must of course be noted that in the instances of the Elle and Paris-Match photo- graphs even the denotative sign is motivated; the denotative signifier enjoys what Peirce would call both an iconic and an indexical relationship with its denotative signified.

The Subject of Semiotics – Kaja Silverman – Oxford University Press

And has anyone ever remarked that the seat in such silvefman bark, the arm-chair lacquered in coffin-black and dully black-upholstered, is the softest, most luxurious, most relaxing seat in the world?

The prosecuting attorney levels severe charges, and the defendant Primary and Secondary Processes 75 is obliged to respond at length to each one. These codes by no means circumscribe the play of signification, since skbject reader may easily commute the signifieds semoitics 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.

The dream-thoughts are thoughts which did not succeed in gaining consciousness, either because they were interrupted, involved an unacceptable wish, or were connected in some way with taboo interests. Moreover, it can only be induced by discourse, by the activation of a signi- fying system which pre-exists the individual, and which deter- mines his or her cultural identity.

Mar 10, tm rated it liked it Shelves: All three of these theoreticians agree that meaning silveramn much more open- ended than Saussure would have us believe, and that it cannot be isolated from the symbolic order.

The chapters of this book approach the connection be- tween psychoanalysis and semiotics in a variety of ways, but each argues that signification occurs only through discourse, that discourse requires a subject, and that the subject itself is an effect of discourse. There is thus a combined double instance in this process: In other words, the dream- work has substituted the colored plate for various taboo objects, and has transferred to it their psychic value.

Consequently the representational value of each manifest element — i.