Edit 2/26/15: The article linked below is an excellent example of how a single semiotic is functioning differently in different cultures. Well, there is more than one, but the examples are very clear and concrete. The contention that lies behind FIML practice is that all people all of the time hold many idiosyncratic semiotics and that when they communicate, these idiosyncratic semiotics can have a huge effect on how they listen and what they say. Idiosyncrasies may have cultural origins or they may arise from subjective states or simply be arbitrary. The idiosyncratic individual (all people everywhere at all times) is like a mini-culture. FIML practice is done between two idiosyncratic individuals who are close to each other, care about each other, and spend a significant amount of time together. It is designed to help partners understand how their idiosyncrasies can and do cause misunderstandings, some of which may snowball into serious conflicts when at heart there never was much of anything there save different views of the same semiotic.
If you have been studying or reading about FIML but still don’t quite see what is meant by semiotics or how they function in real-world settings, please be sure to read the article liked below and also here. The semiotics of controller design.
A friend sent me an interesting article on The semiotics of controller design of the Sony PlayStation.
His comment on the article:
I thought you would find this interesting. The amount of consideration that goes into something so simple makes it practically impossible to experience anything directly without FIML and meditative insight.
The article discusses the meaning of a couple of signs on PlayStation controllers. It shows how cultural inculcation led Japanese and Americans to understand those signs very differently. So differently, in fact, Sony had to change the buttons (or “localize” them) for the American audience.
Most of us will find the linked article understandable and most of us will be able to appreciate how acculturation can and does lead us to perceive signs and symbols differently.
If you can see this it is but a short step to see that individuals do the same. Each of us perceives or understands signs and symbols in ways that are unique to us. As my friend says, it is “practically impossible to experience anything directly without FIML and meditative insight.”
How could it be otherwise? How can anyone expect to understand and be understood intimately without frequent and extensive discussion of what semiotics mean to them and their partner(s)?
Many people claim they don’t have time for discussions like that, and for some I think that is true. For the rest, I don’t agree.
In any case, before long we will have super-smart robots and brain-to-machine interfaces that will utterly change the way we perceive each other as well as “reality” itself.
When that day comes, we bio-humans will have the time and we will have the inclination to buckle down and do the work needed to really understand each other.
In the future, I expect something like FIML will be a major standard for human-to-human communication. When the machines are miles ahead of us, we will at last relent and really try to understand rather than just manage or control each other.