Notes

  • Humans are semiotic novices and so we tend to be awkward, confused, overwhelmed, misguided in our uses of semiotics.
  • We often reify semiotics and/or fixate on them as if they were the real thing rather than the thing itself.
  • The Zen story that it is the moon that is indicated by the finger pointing at it and not the finger is a good way of making the above point.
  • When semiotics are reified or taken to be the thing instead of the thing, then poses, styles, stories, mental fixations, needs for status and status symbols, many “personality” traits, and many other symbols become more important than they should.
  • When this happens people get “stars in their eyes” and sometimes even glow with an imaginary inner “light” that is their fixation on the reified semiotic or some aspect of their reified “self.”
  • To a large extent, human societies are ruled by people who fixate on reified semiotics—money, power, false histories, false reasons for wars, the importance of their “noble lies,” their public images, their selves, their society’s aggrandizement, etc.
  • Since humans are novice semiotic beings, it all but follows that we would be led by hearty novices, many of whom are  blinded by the semiotic “lights” burning in their own minds rather than the actual societies they “lead.”
  • Most humans live in a semiotic environment that we treat in much the same way we treated the natural environment within which we evolved. We struggle and strive for reified semiotics rather than actual food and shelter in the natural world.
  • In FIML practice, a central point is how semiotics function in real-time.
  • It is also important to understand what they are and how they are connected to larger semiotic networks, but it is of central importance to see how they are actually functioning.
  • This is why FIML is more a practice than a theory. Once you see how your psychological morphemes are functioning in real-time, you can devise your own theories about yourself if you like.
  • A simple way to state the theory of FIML is “suffering is caused by constant failure to understand rel-time semiotics and if people have a method (such as FIML) to understand them, they will reduce their suffering.”
  • A more positive way to say that is FIML optimizes communication between partners and, by extension, improves communication with non-partners, thus greatly improving psychological health.
  • “Personality” is largely a small set of rules used to interpret self, others, the world, communication. These rules are used to reduce ambiguity and to provide a sort of fictional stability.
  • Since humans classify a great deal of existential information as stories, we tend to make stories about ourselves and others, or accept stories like that, as if they were real. Once again we see a reification of a semiotic (narrative).
  • In truth, we don’t know much about the past or present and even less about the future. In truth our lives and the lives of others are hugely ambiguous, ill-defined, unknowable.
  • That’s how it is. At least you can gain a much better level of certainty with your FIML partner, though even FIML analyses have limits. They work well on a human scale and we have nothing better, but even they are not perfect; nothing ever will be.
  • Much better is much better than no change at all.
  • FIML practice leads to less dependency on external social definitions (semiotics) and more rootedness in the experiences of your own life.
  • To be clear, semiotics are good. We learn from them and use them to think and communicate. Semiotics raise us out of ignorance into knowing and out of isolation into communication.
  • But once they have raised us, they frequently trap us. For example, you learn some things about history and politics and then decide you are a liberal or a conservative. Then what happens?
  • Most people get trapped in their semiotic “choice.” They can’t absorb counter-information or new information. They become trapped in the semiotic network of their political suasion.
  • Personal stories, personalities, our stories about others, the world, history, and so on are formed in much the same way. At first the semiotics raise us out of ignorance but eventually they trap is in another sort of ignorance.
  • Humans behave within their semiotic environments often worse than wild animals. We fight, destroy, cheat, lie, harm, and kill both with semiotics and because of semiotics.

7 comments on “Notes

  1. caesarbc says:

    Define “semiotics.”

    • ABN says:

      Semiotics = the signs, signals, and symbols of communication; the study of them. Birds use semiotics but humans use more of them and spend more time with them. Since humans have only fairly recently begun using complex semiotics, we tend to make a lot of mistakes in how we communicate and how we perceive communication from others. On this site, we pay a lot of attention to how individual and group psychologies are shaped by the use and misuse of semiotics. Focusing on semiotics facilitates analysis since semiotics are largely discrete entities that can be objectively observed and analyzed. Inherent in the meaning of semiotics is the fact that any human semiotic (sign) can and often will be interpreted differently by the sender and the receiver(s). This is why so much communication is ambiguous and why so many problems arise in individuals and groups.

      • caesarbc says:

        Why not just say “sign”? If you replace the erudite term “semiotic(s)” with its synonym “sign(s)”, it may be less “complex”. What “signs” do birds use?

        • ABN says:

          Semiotics is a good word to know and a valuable concept to think about. On the sidebar you can find a link to Daniel Chandler’s Semiotics for Beginners. His essays will provide more information on semiotics. The word “sign” does not contain the rich sense of an interpreter and a sender of a sign. This is due to conventions in usage over the years. Sometimes I use the word “signal” in the general sense that nearly everything is a signal of some sort. Semiotics can also refer to any signal sent by anything. So there is a field of study called “biosemiotics” that is concerned with biological signals. Birds signal each other with calls, the colors of their feathers, aggressive or passive movements, etc. Humans rely massively on semiotics for communication with others and also for communication between parts of our minds—memories, thoughts, feelings, etc. I always try to use common language, but sometimes am forced to use special terms like semiotics, “psychological morpheme,” micro, meso, and macro levels of understanding, etc.

        • ABN says:

          The Daniel Chandler link in my other comment has changed. His new link is Semiotics for Beginners. http://visual-memory.co.uk/daniel/Documents/S4B/semiotic.html

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