Thursday, May 31, 2007

Motism (MOH-tism)

A movement based in philosophy, manifest in art, and applicable to literature, described in the unpublished book The Motist: A Free Thought Manifesto, by Eucaleh Terrapin.

Semiotics 1

To say that a signifier is arbitrary implies that its context is arbitrary. Yet if the context is arbitrary it is difficult to see how it could have a consistent meaning to an individual, particularly if the individual has an awareness of the context, as presumably is intended by “Saussure’s dismantling of signs” (Wikipedia, “Semiotics”). If there is no consistent meaning of the sign, it is difficult to see how it might be considered a sign at all, since to define any given sign presupposes such a context.

The idea that signs are arbitrary amounts to the assumption that meaning is arbitrary. The way I see it, this is a naïve reflection of the unfounded conviction that the relationships between signs is not hierarchical within a given system of interpretation. To assume that the relationships are not hierarchical really only means that the system adopted in interpreting signs is flimsy and lacks rigor.

Considering the role signs play in the human landscape, it is reproachable to assume that the relationships between signs are arbitrary, if they figure so strongly in determining meaning for individuals. It is like saying that signs are arbitrary because people don’t care about them, or don’t think. Yet if signs are visually consistent for large populations, it is because they have value whether or not people think much of them. To me this indicates that they have been well considered by those to whom they have meaning.

Charles S. Pierce—system encumbered by technical language. It seems inadequate to approach meaning from an academic viewpoint, if it is ultimately the “reader” and “viewer” who experiences signs. Thus to define a signifier as a sign is in my view to move through notions of the signifier as reader. To categorize signs may not be adequate in categorizing the experience of signs.

For information on Pierce, see:

Approaching the notion of formal significance is necessarily to approach the notion of formal experience. In this sense it is less important to “cogitate” the datum of signs, than to culture an awareness of the aesthetic of signs, especially as a system evokative of qualities running a spectrum from the merely provokative to the metaphysical and genuine (the evokative and metaphysical being two extremes which complement one another insofar as either is realized).

It is more meaningful to build a “black book” of meanings than to decipher meanings that have already been made. Sometimes analysis of signs is a step away from using them; by becoming conscious of associations it may be possible to develop a stronger system of associations, but more often than not a system is a simplification. Understanding signs is necessarily to use them. To know is to be, for every why there is a better how, the artist is one who paints.

It is my view that as with music, the greatest theory follows the greatest realization of form. Ideally, the theorist created the form. Thus exploring the theory is inhabiting every corner; to know language is to be a poet, to know graphics is to be an artist, to know systems is to be a philosopher. To not fear the exploration is to uncover nothing new.

The writer looks at the page, and blanches, and becomes the page. The artist’s inspiration takes the trundling, headlong form of life impinging on the unknown. The philosopher finds a system like an abandoned house he retrofits to his own taste. Every exploration is uncertain, yet the result is a new landscape, pushing towards new imprecations and hesitations. What is a special installation to one may become someone else’s new retrofitted house.

Yet I am not a subjectivist. The meaning for any given things comes about through reference to the universal. If there is a failure in specific situations or formulations, it is for lack of embodiment of a greater truth; i.e. the absolute and correlatory, that without which there is no being or relationship.

Concerning x-partate sign relations:

Considering the idea of the sign, the object the sign represents, and the interpreter of the sign it seems to me that a metaphorical and iterative approach would more adequately phrase the interpretive method. To recognize a sign involves a kind of “identifying”, a relation between self and other through the association of identity with identity. While the symbol, and by extension the object it may represent has a fixed identity conceived as an unchanging category, the interpreter has a mutable identity defined in the context of fixed symbols. Thus to identify with one symbol at a given time is metaphorically to take on that identity, to change form. Through the significance of that identity, one defines what one can become, a path of signification. This necessarily leads towards a transformation into another sign, which lends its own properties as alternate crossroads towards still further meanings. Thus while the symbol represents certain potentials and relationships, the interpreter of the symbol has a dynamic role in determining, or disambiguating, the path that is of greatest significance (or most pragmatic or utilitarian etc., if the pragmatic or utilitarian is seen as the highest significance).

What I see in this sense of a tri-partite relation is the many levels which spiral away from the initial concept of the signified and interpreter. For every new transformation from one symbol to the next, the identity of the interpreter has a “meta value” that is incremented to a new concept of self. Likewise, the most significant signifier is incremented to a new “meta value” which may reflect prior tranformations. Finally, whether the interpreter’s sense of meaning is changeable or fixed depends on whether the meta value has reached a stage where it has changed, and if so if it has reached a stage where it returns. Thus there is a kind of “Unity” value which increments based upon the breadth of the interpreter’s associative world. To have an infinite Unity value would be like being omniscient.

A new term:

“relative equilibrium”: the way a definition within one system is analogous to another definition within another equivalent system. The pragmatic value of a system may be conceived as proportional to the extent of its relative equilibrium. Essentially, the value of the system is to provide signs which are universally applicable within the known limits of the broader notion of system. A metaphysical system is one in which signs are extended beyond the known concept of system (signs conceived broadly may include categorical maxims, which possess an identity equivalent to symbolism within their context).

The preceding is copyright (c) 2007 Eucaleh Terrapin

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Things in the works

1. The Free Thought Manifesto. Latest draft has been sent to a publisher for review. *Fingers crossed*.

2. Crude model for the Coquette Volitional Energy Machine, materials bought but construction stalled for lack of assurance about workability (and the difficulty in cutting sheet metal with pliers and a wire cutter). Have yet to buy 2 or 3-in. diameter ball bearings. Device has special importance in the context of my Volitional Energy theory.

3. Art exhibit at Claire's Cornercopia slated for October with my photographer friend Wendy Felleter. Some level of publicity assured through a friend of Wendy's.

4. Starting to write poetry again for the first time since March of last year. Portion of impossible machine now devoted to the subject.

5. New blog here, and a link to it from

A more public face...

Terrapin is a name known to few. He is a man sometimes of few words. He has been a man on the margins for some time.

He is also a man of various talents, talents which given time must earn a hearing.

First, he is an artist in ink and paints. The world he travels is not always the world he explores.

Secondly, he is a metaphysical thinker. His Free-Thought Manifesto is not yet in print, but it details a philosophy that is not merely rational, but confers with experience, mythos, archetypes, literature.

Thirdly, his eccentricities take form in concepts for perpetuum mobiles, devices he theorizes could run on their own reason, if his hands were only able enough to build them. Yet he knows that some concepts are better than others.

Fourthly, he is also an aesthete of words: from time to time he writes verses meant to accommodate the life of the mysterious.

His new website explores each of these areas, giving freely in order to permit the most hopeful and least decided of visitors--the most impressionable ones--to see with their new eyes the extent of his city of wonders, his Impossible Machine.