noemata on Mon, 23 Feb 2004 11:48:12 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Re: codework (Kristeva/Eco) (fwd)

20/02/2004 06:51:58, Alan Sondheim <sondheim@PANIX.COM> wrote:

>Hi - I honestly don't have time for a long reply - I just got back from a
>conf. with 300 messages I have to deal with, not spam. But if you look at
>Kristeva's Revolution in Poetic Language you'll see a lengthy treatment of
>Maldoror - especially the unabridged Fr. version, and a great deal of this
>is a combination of psychoanalytics and semiotics, which she employs as
>well. This can be combined with Eco -
>On Wed, 18 Feb 2004, MWP wrote:
>> > You'd have to look at the book - it's hardly reductionist. Same with
>> > Greimas etc. - Alan
>> I have read it, and I find Eco and all such semiotic models of language
>> reductionist. Where does a text like Lautreamont's Maldoror fit into Eco's
>> scheme? Where do the texts of the insane? Language is not only about signals
>> (Eco's "sign-functions") and their corresponding behavioral responses. There
>> is a form of dark matter in language that never gets touched upon by
>> semiotics. It is where signals get crossed, elided, broken down, -- and too
>> often dismissed in semiotics as gibberish or "noise." Eco's approach is good
>> for analyzing high-class linear detective novels like the ones he writes,
>> but it falls apart on texts that don't make the rage of interpretation their
>> goal. Like all models of the world, semiotics fits some things well and
>> other things badly, and the things it fits badly happen to be precisely the
>> things I care most about right now in the making of art. Maybe somebody
>> could propose a new nonlinear model of semiotics, or better, a chaotic one,
>> that would extend the field into a place that might be interesting. But
>> Eco's views on language are too restrictive for me, and don't carry me to
>> the places I want to go.
>> Greimas deals with a much wider range of issues than semiotics in his work,
>> and I prefer him to Eco. Even so, there is still much in the making of art
>> that Greimas doesn't take into account. (Not that I can recall anything
>> specifically that I could critique off the top of my pointy little head. .
>> .) Linguistics still only skims the surface of art's deepest concerns, so I
>> guess the question is, should an artist be content with merely skimmed
>> surfaces? Or, should he dive headlong into the deep waters where theories
>> fear to tread? I guess some of us are Ahabs and some of us are Ishmaels. I
>> favor the crazy Ahab impulse, speaking for myself, despite my wooden leg.
>> I am taking a breather here to let others get into the conversation if they
>> wish. Feel free to tear me to pieces, if you wish!
>> m

>From Kristeva's Prolegomenon to Revolution in Poetic Language (from Art in 
Theory 1900-1990) -

"A materialist foundation to dialectical logic - a theory of signification 
based on the subject, his formation.. to perceive a signifying practice which, 
although produced in language, is only intelligible _through_ it.. attests to a 
'crisis' of social structures.."

"For the capitalist mode of production produces and marginalizes, but 
simultaneously exploits for its own regeneration, on of the most spectacular 
shatterings of discourse.. can also integrate their _process qua process_. As 
art, this shattering can display the productive basis of subjective and 
ideological signifying formations - a foundation that primitive societies call 
'sacred' and modernity has rejected as schizophrenia.. point to the very 
process of signifiance. Magic.. esoterism.. 'incomprehensible' poetry..: the 
process that exceeds the subject and his communicative structures."

"If there exists a 'discourse' which is not a mere depository of thin 
linguistic layers.. or testimony of a withdrawn body.. and instead.. a 
practice..the sum of unconscious, subjective.. in gestures of confrontation and 
appropriation, destruction and construction - productive violence, in short - 
.. it is the _text_."

"The text is a practice that could be compared to political revolution.. We 
shall call this heterogeneous practice _signifiance_ to indicate, on the one 
hand, that biological urges are socially controlled, directed, and organized, 
producing an excess with regard to socially apparatuses; and on the other hand, 
that this instinctual operation becomes a _practice_ - a transformation of 
natural and social resistances, limitations, and stagnations - if and only if 
it enters into the code of linguistic and social communication."

"What we call _signifiance_, then, is precisely this unlimited and unbounded 
generating process, this unceasing operation of the drives towards, in, and 
through language; towards, in, and through the exchange system and its 
protagonists - the subject and his institutions. This heterogeneous process, 
neither anarchic, fragmented foundation nor schizophrenic blockage, is a 
structuring _practice_, a passage to the outer boundaries of the subject and 
society. Then - and only then - can it be jouissance and revolution."

Some comments -

>From what I understand, what Kristeva terms a 'practice' of 'text' amounts 
somewhat to Sondheim's 'codework' (almost literal - the working of code / 
coding of work). It is codework _if and only if_ it "enters into the code of 
lingustic and social communication", - otherwise, maybe as 'workcode', it is 
'signifiance' - the making, meaning and crisis in the structure of 'text'.
'Text' is composed of signifiance and practice, which are two sides, like the 
_working of code_ (signifiance) vs. _coding of work_ (practice).

My understanding of Eco, from the earlier post -
Eco - "A sign is always an element of an _expression plane_ CONVENTIONALLY 
CORRELATED to one (or several) elements of a _content plane._"
A code-sign is always an element of an _expression plane_ CODIFIED to one (or 
several) elements of a _content plane._
Sign is convention, code-sign is interpretation - or as:
- Signs have automatic interpretations.
- Code-signs have problematic conventions.
- Code-signs are unconventional, interpreted signs.

In my understanding of Eco and Kristeva -
What Eco calls 'conventionally correlation' in the signification, is the same 
as 'codify' where the conventions are problematic, interpretative, it's still 
the same signification process going on, but of different complexity.
And an important thing, the 'conventional correlation', isn't this just the 
signification process again?? - in case, Eco is actually defining the sign 
recursively, loopy, which would fit in with Kristeva's notion, and which was my 
point to say in the earlier Eco response - that the 'sign' is purely virtual, 
it never takes place, the expression plane never meets the content plane - the 
'conventional correlation' is a chasm - or synapse or bridge - and where all 
the Kristeva shattering break in - or is transmitted or runs under. Eco's sign 
is never complete - the problem is the 'conventional correlation' which is the 
sign itself, so it never ends. Codework and Kristeva's practice of text is 
working in that loophole, it's a vertical chasm and crisis in the more 
horisontal networks of significations. In short then, the sign is open, and 
codework is wryting it.

In relation to what I called code and its double, the double would be the 
vertical plane (chasm, shadow, code) - to the horisontal plane (surface, 
figure, double). Yes, I inverted that on purpose - in a way the double is the 
residue, which is the sign, a mere product, a doubling of the code, which is 
the shadow. The sign is virtual, a double-nature of expression and content, 
which is never complete, and the code is the stuff making up the chasm between, 
and also making the sign (code then is the virtuality of the sign), as all 
signs are coded and can not be decoded or the sign would be like nothing.
In another view, the sign is the double and the code is nothing - the sign is 
something while code is nothing - which would be both's virtuality and 
_signifiance_. In reality it is opposite - sign is nothing and code is 
everything, which is their _practice_.

So maybe it turns out that 'code and its double' and 'code as nothing' fit with 
Kristeva's 'signifiance' and 'practice' of 'text'. signifiance, double, 
virtuality of code (code is doubled into sign); and practice, nothing, reality 
of code (sign is 'doubled' into nothing, reversed), maybe what Charles Baldwin 
called the doubleness's double.

And what about the analogy of brain asymmetry in this? It would simplify to the 
left hemisphere doing significations and the right doing practice. The 
sinisters are revolutionary, in Kristeva's sense :) The signifiance of the 
left's symbol-machine's "unlimited and unbounded generating process through 
language"; and, the heterogeneous process of the right "is a structuring 
practice, a passage to the outer boundaries of the subject and society." The 
time/space-bias of left/right would be "the unceasing operations" of running 
code (time), "becoming a practice - a transformation of natural and social 
linguistics, limitations, stagnations" (space). Maybe pushing the analogy too 
hard, but the asymmetry suggests a slightly different processing or texting, 
into signifiance/coding - maybe extrapolating that the right is more 
coded/mattered, and the left more signified/dialectical. And so on, ad 

Did I understand this? Well, it was written (signifiance/practice).

Btw, Eco wasn't mentioned in the Art in Theory book, well neither was Peirce, 
so they're more into linguistic and language philosophy, while Kristeva's 
rhetoric into art and the revolutionary side, - which could be another way of 
stating the notion of 'art' as the chasms of 'culture'.

- Bjorn

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