Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Meaning II

First, we need to examine “meaning” itself, and expose a mistake, a very basic mistake, in how many people think about it. To say that some event means something without at least some implicit understanding of who it means something to is to express an incomplete idea, no different than sentence fragments declaring that “Went to the bank” or “Exploded.” Without first specifying a particular subject and/or object, the very idea of meaning is incoherent.

Nature is concrete reality, we presume, something more real than abstraction. But if nature is more real than abstraction, what use is abstraction? Perhaps it is the case that abstraction is more real than "nature". Perhaps abstraction can be used to extend what is effortlessly given to us. Perhaps abstraction can be employed to usefully transform what is now presented to us without effort as the object. Maybe we can perceive with our (collectively-expanded) imagination levels of reality that are hidden, not so much from our senses, as by our senses.

We think we live in the "objective" world, but we do not. The objective world is something that has been conjured up for us recently - absurdly recently, from the perspective of evolutionary biology - by the processes of science operating over a span of five centuries (or, perhaps, to give the Greeks their due, over the last thirty centuries). This does not mean that the objective world is not real, even though theories about its nature are in constant flux. What it does mean is that the environment of human beings might well be regarded as "spiritual," as well as "material."

Now if we give a closer look at reading, because it may be fundamental, about how the brain gives meaning to letters on a page has been fundamentally a mystery. Two new studies fill in some details on how the brains of proficient readers handle words. One of the studies, suggests that a visual-processing area of the brain recognizes common words as whole units. Another study, reveals that the brain operates two fast parallel systems for reading, linking visual recognition of words to speech.

Chaging the angle if we look at it from the traditional targets of scientific inquiry that are available to sensory analysis, localized in time and space, and simultaneously accessible to the individual experience of multiple observers (at least under carefully controlled conditions). Meaning, which can vary dramatically between observers, does not reveal itself in any such straightforward manner. It is therefore not clear that it can be addressed scientifically, even in principle. At least this is the classical argument. But what if meaning could be construed as a stable emergent consequence of the interaction of subjects, objects, elements or situations, conceived of from a more abstract point of reference than that commonly utilized?

"We work to maintain and extend the boundaries of the stories which regulate our social existence, our individual goals, and our emotions, and to extend the boundaries of the stories which we embody and represent abstractly. Such stories have an integrity, at least in principle, which enables them to "make sense" of our past and present and to structure those actions that take us into the future. Our stories are "true" to the extent that they allow us to utilize the wisdom we have generated in the course of our experience" - Says Jordan Peterson.


Anonymous said...

Gracias por escribier,amiga.
Si que es grande don Cash...y el tema Hurt...uf...le hace honor a su título,no?


Rick said...

"At least this is the classical argument. But what if meaning could be construed as a stable emergent consequence of the interaction of subjects, objects, elements or situations, conceived of from a more abstract point of reference than that commonly utilized?"

That makes a great deal of sense to me, Mariana. The difficulty, of course, is that we are trying to divine the meaning of meaning, which redundancy usually ends in lack of meaning!

Are you familliar with the yogic concept of parusa? If not, I think that you'll find it an excellent area of exploration for this topic. It essentially positions the abstract frame of reference that you are positing.

By the way, thank you so much for the heads up on the book. I will order it today or tomorrow and very much look forward to receiving it and reading it.

Best to you and yours,

jinjir minjir said...

You have to start posting things that I disagree with, so I can comment. Otherwise I'll keep staying low. :P

Id it is said...

The material and the spiritual are so closely entwined in the human mind that making meaning for us almost seems like an involuntary act. It is near impossible to dissociate the two while making our reality comprehensible to us which is to give it meaning. 'Meaning' verily is elicited by the brain by putting the material and spiritual within a unified lens to conjure an image within our minds that makes sense.

Anonymous said...

mariana--I was never much of a philosopher. I avoided philosophy classes as much as possible. But this argument I (sort of) understood: Truth with a capital "T" vs. truth. Truth, capital T, is the idea that there is a fixed, objective world out there. truth is our expeience of the world. I can only imagine being the equivalent to agnostic to this objective world where meaning is concerned: if it exists, how would any of us really know? We only have our own perceptions. The world doesn't exist without truth and no Truth is universal, I say.

This reminds me of one of my biggest cognitive distortion issues. I've been told that just because I FEEL something is true, doesn't mean it actually IS true. This is meant to help me minimize my emotions (which admittedly go haywire sometimes). But really, wtf. How can I know any other truth (really really know it) than my own?

Lane Savant said...

Meaning is essentially speculation and therefore doesn't mean much.
Calculating the odds is a more important mental exercise.

tinkerbell the bipolar faery said...

Abstraction being more real than nature. Ingenious, really. I agree that there exist levels of reality which remain hidden by our senses. Is meaning individual, as opposed to collective? What is truth?

Charles Gramlich said...

As I've said to my students many times. Humans are not rational organisms, although they like to believe they are. Still, it's worth striving to be a bit more rational.

Ruela said...

you are a natural scientist ;)

Ariel_from_Plainsboro said...

Dear Mariana: As always, your post is full of mind-bending ideas. There are some concepts I don't yet get to comprehend though, so I'll re-read the text (while taking sips of my argentine green tea, a much needed daily dose of caffeine and teophilins). It's hard for me to separate your idea of meaning from the perception. In science, rules and conventions were designed to avoid (or at least diminish) the influence of perception on observations (so we have facts instead). A 90-degree angle is just that here and everywhere in our three-dimensional space. Although it may seem that meaning always depends on the observer's emotions and sensorial reading of a situation, reality may just be...well, real. Like a fellow colleague tells some it's-all-relative students (and professors): if we think that nature does not have some absolute rules, like gravity, let's all take the elevator to the ninth floor, grab our hands and jump out the window.
be very well and take care.

Roxanne said...

Mariana - thank you for visiting my blog! your blog looks fascinating, I can't wait to examine it more closely. until then - i appreciate your comments and your visit ... take care

paulandrewrussell said...

Someone once told me the world itself is abstract, it's only the way we perceive it that makes it concrete.

The example I was given is that a bench is only solid because we know it is. We see it being made, we can touch it, feel it when we sit down on it but in reality it exists only in the abstract as do we. We, by our perception, give it meaning and make it 'concrete'.

So maybe our objective view on the world can only ever be subjective simply because we have to give meaning to everything because nothing is concrete; we bring it all into existence in our minds.

A Cuban In London said...

I slightly disagree with the notion that the world around us is not objective. I would aver that our brain hosts a lot of information that is not tangible and perceived through our normal channels, but rather experienced. Meaning comes into play. And that we cannot understand sometimes we render abstract. What is abstract art but the subversion of the objective world? The transformation of that sensorial world into the artist's whim?

Good post, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Greetings from London.

Mariana Soffer said...

Dedos de polvora:
she thanks me for writting to her and she says jonny cash is the best (it is about her blog this conversation mainly).
And she says that the subject of this post honors its titles cause it refears/relates to it.

Mariana Soffer said...

Dedos de polvora:
thank you for writting back, I know it is a hugh subject the one I am talking about, it is for you to discuss in the comment your opinions about it, and then I will say mine related to your interest and doubts mainly.
Take care

Mariana Soffer said...

jinjir minjir:
really I did not know that was your politic, but now that I do you need to write down some of the things you disagree with, so I can make you talk, and we can have a nice discussion. Or you can comment on things you agree with too, it is fun an intersting, you should try it too.
Take care J

Mariana Soffer said...

Lane Savant:
I liked a lot what you said lane, it is pretty interesting, that is why I would call language fuzzy, I use fuzzy logic indeed to process natural languge processing cause I agree with what you say completelly.
In fuzzy logic one thing is not one neither the other is a little of everything.
Take care Lane

Mariana Soffer said...

thank you for visiting mine also, it is my pleasure to have you hear, I liked your blog a lot too, and please feel free to cmment any kind of thing you feel like in this blog that I am standing on now (or is it already past that)
Take care R

Mariana Soffer said...

I think so, as well as you are a natural artist, and anyway I think we are both a part of each one indeed, we just use one of them in our everyday life to express ourself, but we are both, do not forget that.

Lord of Erewhon said...

Let's practice your portuguese and listen to fine and rare music!


P. S. Nem só de ciência vive o homem - nem a mulher... LOL!!!

Mariana Soffer said...


You say : stable emergent ..., I do not think those things you mention are stable or will ever be, situations depend on (among other unstable things ) culture which is not stable and on people , they are alive therefore they change. But those elements can be concieved from a more abstract point of view, that is true, but I do not know what to think about that, what will this be helpfull for? Aren t they abstract enough?

Great asertion we are trying to divine the meaning of meaning. It is like that, at least I do it somehow (but not on purpose), it is kind of magical to me the idea, and also a very important concept that if one is able to understand we can understand (with a simple inference) lots of other relevant things that are based on it.

This is what I found about parusa and the self, the experience is a pratyaya which does not distinguish sattva (guna of brightness, a primary constituent of matter) and parusa – the self as absolutely unmixed. By sanyama on what exists for its own sake (parusa) distinct from that (sattva) which exists for the other – the knowledge of parusa. Very interesting new concept for me, I am going to dig deeper on it for sure, thanks.

It is my pleasure to exchange information with you, I really enjoy it, and I hope you enjoy the book too.

Hope you are doing really good

Mariana Soffer said...

Id it is:

it is very interesting what you say. I agree that it is imposible to separate material from spirit (I would call this another way, like concept) completely, at least my brain can not imagine a thing without the concept asociated to it. Maybe it does think of concepts without their phisical body existing or asociated to the spirutal part.
Interesting way of describing how does the brain put meaning to things, I think it mostly works this way, but there is an exception to this rules, which is when there is no real object that you refer to.

Thanks a lot for sharing your really interesting thoughts and please feel free to discuss or disagree with the argument I just gave.

Take care of yourself

Mariana Soffer said...

Charles Gramlich
I completelly agree that we are not rational organism, specially cause emotions are always involved in any kind of thinking we might be experiencing.
But like you say I think it is good trying to think rationally about some things, at least a little, cause it might improve our life qualities.

Thanks a lot for your great and different thoughts

Mariana Soffer said...

tinkerbell the bipolar faery

Of course that there are levels of reality that we can not see.

Difficult question the one you make about collective and individual, I am going to give you my personal response to it.

I think to begin with meaning like language is created collectively, in order to communicate with each other mostly. Then one ads to this collective concept a personal one, an idea one has about certain things, which is personal, given our own personal experiences sometimes, or given our idea of how the world works perhaps. So is the first one plus a small add of the second one.

Hope you like my invented theory of collective and individual meaning.

Bye bye and thanks for stepping by

Mariana Soffer said...

Thanks for commenting even dough you do not like philosophical stuff. I see so you do not belive in a collective idea of meaning. You belive mostlty on your own truth.

You can only know for sure an objective truth, I think, like the measure of something, but since you call truth your own reality, it depends if it counts as valid the measure or the perception of the measure of the thing.

By the way regarding the feeling, what if you feel that you feel something, does it count also as doubtfull? and what about if you feel that you feel that you feel the truth?
(Sorry lady I was just kidding in this paragraph hope I did not upset you).

Seriously I think it means something to fell something, even if it is for you, it alter your brain, works like a placebo in the case that is not true.

Thanks a lot for your interesting comment. Hope you are all right lady

Mariana Soffer said...

I enoy green tea myself too, but I thought it was made originally in china, I guess there must be a local version of it which is made here now.

IT is true what you say about science, it is meant to put some objectivity to the reading of reality, therefore it diminishes or erases our subjective reading of it, and in our own subjectivites are included our perceptions of things. It is the classical dilemana of that dualism states, subjectivity-objectivity, which one is the real reality. Do you belive that the world exist cause you see it and when you close your eyes it does not exist any more. Or that you see it cause it exists, because things where there first?

You are right about subjectivity not being relable on the outside world due to emotions and other kind of things, but anyway who says reality is a fixed static thing, doesn t life flow like a river, changing all the time, like our view of reality? To tell you the truth my friend I can not say what is the truth about how the wold is and means.

I loved your example of what we can do we do not have absolut rules, it is great! The minute I start thinking that I will try to get a couple of people with me to follow your advice.

Thanks a lot for your excelent comment my friend, I was missing you already

pd: regarding perception and feelings

We, the human beings have the tendency to interpret what we see, and experience through the emotions that are invoked by these different mediums. We are meaning making machines! The interpretations are based on out values, emotional states and in reality, As a result, there is an assumption that what we see is the way things are. Never do we question the accuracy of this information, we simply take it as fact .So, the way we perceive things has the power to shape how we think and act in the world.

Mariana Soffer said...

I do agree with the idea of self, mostly because it is such a special concept. But not with the one about the bench, they exist on their own, they are a real thing by themself.

I think you are right that our view of the world is subjective, because we can only have things from reality asociated to its meaning, we can not have things in itself. But I do think there are concrete things, they just need to be decorated with meaning to be able to get into our minds.
Anyway you say it very nicely in your last paragraph.

Thanks a lot paul for stepping by and sharing your interesting thoughts about meaning in this life

Mariana Soffer said...

A Cuban In London

I agree with what you say about the world not being subjective. I think that the world exist, without the need of us for it, it is there wether we see it or not. Then what our brain does with what we percieve from it is another thing, either giving it meaning or altering how thihgs are in reality according to how we feel. But anyway the world is there, it exists on its own.

Funny that you bring art here, it is a great example of abstract dough. Art is always about reappraising the way we look at the world, that is what I think about it's role, even more when is abstract the work.

Great comment my london-cuban friend. Really thought provoking.
Take care and be well

Mariana Soffer said...

Lord of Erewhon

I love siouxy and nina, they are the bests.

Now that you mention music I will tell you the similarities with meaning:
There are to fundamental analogies:
1.The grasp of meaning is the explanandum for a semantics of either natural language or music: The structural explanation of music is supposed to explain our "musical understanding"--the way music sounds to an experienced listener. This is the musics' "meaning" to us and the underlying structural account should explain why we have such experience.
2.The postulation of grammatical structures is guided by an appeal to semantic considerations. That is, the account of structures in musical "grammar" ultimately aims to account for our experiences of meaning in certain of our "feelings" about music, such as our feeling of beat strength in 4/4 time or of "tensions" and "relaxations" in music.
Because of these analogies, we can provide a more precise account of music's resemblance to natural language: listeners with the relevant knowledge can't help but understand incoming strings; listeners can be mistaken about what certain phrases mean; and the work communicates a meaning.

I will try and practice some portuguese, see you there and take care

Lord of Erewhon said...

Girl... you think too much... :)=

Mariana Soffer said...

Lord of Erewhon
I know, I need to shut it up once in a while or it overhead and then everything starts to work bad (which indeed happens quite a lot).
But I enjoy the process of thought

Take care my lord

raul said...

What is the method to adquire meaning and knowledge that science has? I guess it has a classical standard one, doesn't it?

Mariana Soffer said...

The development of Scientific Method has made a significant contribution to our understanding of knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning.[4] A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.[5]. Science, and the nature of scientific knowledge have also become the subject of Philosophy. As science itself has developed, knowledge has developed a broader usage which has been developing within biology/psychology—discussed elsewhere as meta-epistemology, or genetic epistemology, and to some extent related to "theory of cognitive development".
Sir Francis Bacon, "Knowledge is Power"

Note that "Epistemology" is the study of knowledge and how it is acquired. Science is “the process used everyday to logically complete thoughts through inference of facts determined by calculated experiments. Sir Francis Bacon, critical in the historical development of the scientific method, his works established and popularized an inductive methodology for scientific inquiry. His famous aphorism, "knowledge is power" said...

What would you say is the most basic and simple meaning of meaning?

Mariana Soffer said...

The most primary categorical distinctions drawn by human beings
appear to involve a single axis: that of center vs periphery, or
culture vs nature, or familiar vs foreign (Eliade, 1986). If this is
true, then one might logically be driven to wonder just what is it that
is "center, culture, and familiar" or "periphery, nature, and foreign",
if everything that exists can be subdivided into just these two
categories (which must by necessity be very complex to encapsulate so
much reality into such small and undifferentiated domains). It is the
answer to this very difficult query that allows us to make the radical
claim that we live in a world that is more fundamentally "spiritual"
than "material."

Uncle Tree said...

I'm not sure I get the meaning of your post, Mariana. It has to be about more than just descriptions of acts and objects. The first thing I thought this morning after reading your article and the comments was this: weight. Just as we weigh the facts, we can also add weight to an object. That measurement would be abstract and subjective, right?

Going back to what Paul said about the bench...what if the bench was a family heirloom? A very dear object that has a long history will be cherished more than a similar object belonging to someone else.

Perhaps a sort of collective meaning is there in the beginning, wrapped in plain paper, and perceived by our instincts. I'm now thinking about how objects become 'sacred' to the many. The Shroud of Turin objectively is an old piece of cloth, and that's all. Weighted meaning is added subjectively to the weight already given to it by the crowd.

I'm not making any sense, am I? !zguH

JanetK said...

It is my opinion that 'meaning' is something that connects different words, signals, things etc. Meaning does not exist without that web of connections. So if I look a word up in a dictionary to find its meaning - I am given the meaning in terms of other words and if I don't know the meaning of them, I can look them up... to infinity. A dictionary is just one big circular argument. At some point we have to point to something real. But even then the significance of the point has to be understood from outside the question of 'meaning'. Conclusion: we need to be born with a few starting meaning relationships, we then have to expand those by pointing to real things and actions and only then we can create more complex meaning networks.

Mariana Soffer said...

Uncle Tree
I am no sure either, probebly none, there where some things I just wanted to add to the other meaning post, from an other viewpoint. It ended up being kind of wierd I know. But most of the post usually are also, exept maybe poetry ones, cause it is a different art.

Weight, exactley that is what I tell upstairs in an other comment, though a little different, I suggests that things are a mix between both measurments.

Yes that is correct what you say about paul. I am going to copy hear so I can explain more clearly:
I think to begin with meaning like language is created collectively, in order to communicate with each other mostly. Then one ads to this collective concept a personal one, an idea one has about certain things, which is personal, given our own personal experiences sometimes, or given our idea of how the world works perhaps. So is the first one plus a small add of the second one.

Hope you like my invented theory of collective and individual meaning.

What I mean it the measurment is mostly influenced by the collective and a little bit by the subjective.

Hope I did made some sense, take care uncle, and thanks

the walking man said...

I think I will simply remain as I am and not try to attach meaning to anything in the material world. I simply accept it, process it, and then go on from there in the same state of non interpretation of experience.

Understanding comes when it comes and I am not so impatient that I will stop my breath waiting for understanding, there is after all an entire lifetime in a single beat of the heart muscle.

Mariana Soffer said...

I never thought it lighke that, needing connectivity for it to exist, but you are probably right even meaning does not existst without connecting the object of the outside world to your own mnind.

Your comment reminds me of the idea that words in the dictionary are defined by other words of that same dictionary which soometimes are defined by the first words I mentioned before, so it is like a loop, it is not sustained by any solid thing the meaning in it. And by that you form a graph with the most solid or used as base words, and then you have the main definitions of concepts of your language.

I also agree with you we are born with certain predefine things, that is a fact, like the need for a mother to feed us, and our relation with her. On you build as you say complexity on top of that.

Thanks a lot for your greaet colaboration, I like a lot the example you gave about the dictionary, I usually think about it myself.

Mariana Soffer said...

the walking man
I like a lot what you are telling you are changing this hole endless loop of conversation. You are thinking like budhist (sort of). OR we can also think of it like one of the stages nieztche talks about, which consist on taking away all that you know from yourself.

I think that more than knowledge or meaning what you are interested in is wisdom, which is not a bad aspiration at all, indeed it seems much more interesting to aquire than the 2 others.

Thanks a lot walking mind for sharing your wisdom with us

kj said...

mariana, # 1172 is yours! i am so happy you are moving to blogland lane. i will be back to catch up on the posts here i've missed.

i've saved a place for human being.....


Ted Bagley said...

Fixing the dream in the dream is just part of the dream.
There is no meta-meaning to strive for outside of an imaginary desire for unity.
Back to Freud's internal conflict of the individual's singular desire for oneself and the plural desire for the well-being of everyone.

Val said...

Everything in physical existence, with the exception of nature, did not exist physically until we made it exist. The first place it was real, was as a thought. All things are thoughts yet all thoughts are not material, yet they can be made material if we choose. Who made nature and this planet? Who do you 'think'? A perfect example is this: A red blood cell is part of nature. A red blood cell didn't exist for us until we 'thought' a microscope, made it material (physical) and then used it to see that red blood cell that we DIDN'T make. Everything we DO make is initially a thought, something originally real to the creator but readily shown to others who then also see it as real, even before we make it physical. We do this to understand those thoughts we never had and didn't make real. To what end? I have a theory, but then doesn't everyone?

Anonymous said...

Meaning is the human desire to "know" & "understand"

Meanings are the concepts we build to see order where apparently there is none

Meaning is councisness, since an unconscious being (think in a bacteria) is not worried about “understanding” the environment

Meanings.... nothing more than “feelings”

Mariana Soffer said...

Excelent thank you, soon I will puyt my new home there!

Mariana Soffer said...

Ted Bagley
intereting what you say regarding not being meta meaing in itself, you are right, there is probably not such thing like that, but because it is not needed, with meaning you can address any kind of concept or thing you want. But I can certainly see that meaning has to mean something, that is the only meta for me.
Take care

Mariana Soffer said...

I agree with what you say I guess a 100%. There is just one thing I am not sure and it is what where things, for example bees, before we invented (do you think they where something else than they ar e now, they existed for as as a different concept?).
This is very interesting, I am amazed cause nobody else seemed to think that way, it is true, we made red cells exists, as we also made the tree exists or be as we think it is, if it wheren t for that "invention" of us, they won t be there yet (or ever). I always ask myself what a native indian would reply if we ask him what is a red cell? What would happen with a person that comes with an ancient culture? What would he think about our thoughts?

To what end? that is an excelent question, I do not know, maybe so that way we can think we are in control of reality, because is more trangible, managable. I wonder what your own theory would be.
Thanks a lot my friend for your insights
Miss M

Mariana Soffer said...

Great fist sentence, but I do not think is that, it was origined by that indeed.
I agree with your second statement completely.
I guess meaning requires of a conscious being to exist, that's true, because meaning is processed in the more sofiticated parts of the brain, they can not be handles by fleas.

The last think yoy say, maybe, I do not know, it is true that all that we think about is mixed and can not be detached from feelings, that is how the human being works after all. By the way nice title for a song.
Take care dany

Lord of Erewhon said...

My dear, everyone can think, and many quite well... The problem of mankind is other: very few kown how to live.

Philosophy, science, religion: all are nothing for the lost; in the end are like some TV shows...

The central core of wisdom is ethics, morality and politics.


Harlequin said...

Mariana-- this was a nicely thought provoking post, as many of yours are. No surprise there!!

I like the notion of the primacy of the body ( the lived body or the
" body -subject" ) in the encounter/construction and incubation of meaning, hence the importance of story and expression in the reflective processes of meaning making. I like how you have given many interpretations lots of breathing room.

~otto~ said...

Ah yes yes yes yes yes: We think we live in the "objective" world, but we do not.

And yes a thousand time more: Our stories are "true" to the extent that they allow us to utilize the wisdom we have generated in the course of our experience.

Mariana Soffer said...

Lord of Erewhon

It is excelent what you just said, it is so true, so real. But I do not agree with something, I do not think everybody can think, this world if full of stupid beings, check the ex pressident bush, check the current state of parts of humanity (it is clearly plain an pure stupidity).

But I think you are right about the point tht wisdom is much harder to attain than any other kind of thought of knowledge, with that I completelly agree.

So following your thougth I will try to attain myself some mind clarity, some real and knowledge, wisdom, is the missing thing.

cheers and thanks to you my friend

Mariana Soffer said...


as always I have to thank you a lot for your very kind comments. I am also happy you like that view of the subject (primacy of the body). And it is like you say story is important in making meaning, so is reflection. All the time I think more and more that context is extremelly important for anything, I do not know if one day I might end up thinking that is more important than the thing in itself.

I gave here lots of interpretations cause to me this is an important and very wide subject, so there are tons of things to say regarding it. And I do not like to stick with only one view of things


Mariana Soffer said...


my skeptic friend, it is interesting what you say, there is also a lot of trutht in it. I said on a comment before that I belive we live in both objective and subjective word.

And also yes yes yes, things are true till we have the background for them.

Take care my friend

Lord of Erewhon said...

O yes, they do think, though only crap! LOL!!!

P. S. Bush is far more smart then the portuguese dog of Obama! JAJAJAJAJA!!!

Anonymous said...

You are too smart for me, friend!
I am surprised that someone like you would read my blog, but I appreciate the insightful ideas you contribute - ideas that I myself would not think of.

Have you heard of the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance? You might have. It presents a lot of ideas similar to the ones you present in this post.

Mariana Soffer said...

First of all thanks a lot for your amazing compliments. But I am going to tell you that you too are an inteligent being, I do not think just anybody can write nice poems the way you write them, so well maybe you call it talent, but it is the same. Besides I always say that everybody has different habilities and that they are all valuable and interesting.
I read that book a long long time ago, I barely remember amything, I just grab it again now that you mention it, cause you make me curious about how that might have influence my thought when I was a teen.

Take care my friend

Renee said...

You are so smart.


Dave King said...

I was fascinated by your remarks on abstraction and plan to read the whole post again. I do not think it takes us much further into the question of the meaning of meaning, though. Maybe next time through the penny will drop!

geek said...

Meaning-making is a highly human trait that has influenced us in a lot of ways such as creating societies and civilizations. As to how and why we came to bear and ascribe meanings to our world, that for me, is still a mystery.

Brian Miller said...

ok, wont lie, my head hurts slightly. i think i got it bu going to need to sleep on it. i like stories, they help make sense of the world around us.

girlontape said...

venis? next tuesday...

Uncle Tree said...

Hey, Mariana! I've been meaning to ask you about the means and ways of becoming a mean old tree. I'm not sure it woodwork, but it wood mean a lot to me if I knew what that meant.

The word 'mean' means many different things in English. Do you have that kind of trouble with the meaning of the word in your native tongue?

Anonymous said...

We thirst for meaning because we need it. Without meaning, what is life but a string of events? Interesting topic. Poetry would not exist without meaning, as poetry is an attempt to draw meaning out of an event.

Mariana Soffer said...

First of all thanks for your lovely compliments. But I am going to tell you (as I did to experimentaljetset)that you too are an inteligent being, I do not think just anybody can write nice post with nice pictures the way you write them, so maybe you can call that talent, but it is the same. Besides I always say that everybody has different habilities and that they are all valuable and interesting.

Hugs and xoxoxoxoxo

Mariana Soffer said...

Dave King
I am glad you liked my remarks about abstraction, it makes me really happy, seriously! I respect a lot what you think.

You are right about this not taking us much farther about the answer of the question of what is the meaning of meaning? It was not the idea either, the idea was to show more ways of seing this, and making us thinkig a little bit more about it.

Sorry, but I do not understand what do you mean by the penny will drop, probably because I am not a native speaker, I have an intuition about it dough, hope I can confirm or deny what I think your expression meansions soon.

Thanks a lot for stepping by and sharing your thoughts, which at least to, are always very interestesting to read.
Take care

Mariana Soffer said...

Exactely my friend, you are so right, it is an aspect pretty much shown by human beings, and not by other beings with such emphasis or interest in it.
But probably as you said it is highly related to how societies and civilizations where shaped, and probably also related to their cultures (If you let me add this thougt to yours).
Regarding the last thing you said, you made me thing that always the hardest stuff to understand is the one we are living in, whether our culture, our reality, our society and many other current things.
I can not understand it either, but I think there are people who are really visionaries or have an incredible clarity of mind that can see way beyond where we are than what we can now.
Hugs friend

Mariana Soffer said...

Brian Miller
Thanks brian, but do not take it so seriously, relax, try to have fun with the theories and with what you thought about them now, do not care that much if you can make sense of them or agreee or not with them, thinks just will fall to their proper places in your head, just give them time, do no push that hard, cause that is what make us confuse and have stiff theories that make us harm ourselves.
Do what you say sleep on it and if you do not think anything just let it go, just do not care, time will come when thigs, as I told you, fall in their place.
Anyway I am glad you like to make sense of the world arround us, cause not everybody cares.
Hugs and take care

Mariana Soffer said...

Very interesting what you say about poetry, you are probably right, I never thought about it that way. What I did thought is that we need to tell ourselves our own stories so then we can make sense of ourselves, have a sense of I, know what it means to be ourselves. But it is amazing what you say, with poetry must be exactely the same (still have to think more about that statement anyway)
Take care

Mariana Soffer said...

But you are not performing this tuesday, If you where I would go for sure.
The thing is that I have to meeet with my research team, which is usually on mondays, and I am not sure which time it will end, but if I can not, maybe next tuesday we make it a sure date (if you can), sorry babe, but I can not promise I will end (I am closing a deal with the states)
Big kiss

Mariana Soffer said...

uncle tree
Somehow I lost your comment in my mail, but thank god I found it recently. You made me laugh uncle with what you write to me.
The answer to your question would be yes, because it means exactely the same that it does in english, the world would be "significado", but anyway I read that the different meaninngs of mean are clasified and organized in a way, so indeed I was thinking that why did they put all that definitions to a single word and did not invented another extra one to save us the confusion to us all.
Hugs my favourite tree

Jon said...

Funny, but this is some of what I'm writing on for my MA in English... I've been studying a lot of language theory... you might like this brief intro to poststructuralist intertextuality and semiotics as an example of a combination of the two methods you mention for making meaning of words (signs):


Uncle Tree said...


That seems to imply the 'importance' of something, Mariana. 'Definition' is another word that is used to describe whatever.

If I may guess on what Bryan meant by 'poetry and meaning' mixing it up, it is something like this. It is actually an old argument between poets themselves.

(Just what is significant in this world of ours?)

Poets should concentrate their efforts on which type of thing/happening? Which one is most important?

Take that which is significant, and say it simply. Or,

Take that which is simple, and show us the significance of it.

Is it either/or, or both/and?

Luvz and hugz, me sweet niece!

geek said...

Makes life more interesting, isn't it? That we still have a lot to discover. I dunno. I think it would be kind of boring if we already know everything. Good thing there's always some new stuff that we can learn about. Though, it can be very frustrating at times.

Maxine said...

Mariana, you always twist my mind in ways it would be turned more often, was it not lazy with poetry. Often I'm too busy thinking about it to participate!

Mariana Soffer said...

Thanks a lot for your advice, it is actually a very good one, I was just browsing semiotic books, and I ended up reading Ferdinand de Saussure’s structuralist semiotics. I also read a lot about Baudrillard, who I like a lot, you can check my past entries to see I do references to his theories and thoughts.
By the way I am also learning linguistic, but mostly oriented towards nlp task-related theorical things. I can send you some papers if you want them.

Thanks and take care

Mariana Soffer said...

uncle tree
you are right about definition, but I guess that word emerged indeed to define the bounderies about what a thing is and what a thing is not. And significance puts the emphasis in another side of what this words mean which is the one you remarked before.

Here are other similar words to meaning, that I found: denotation, sense, signification

I guess all of them have a slightly different implication and emphasis hence meaning than the other ones.

It makes sense what you say about brian s comment.

Regarding what you say about poetry, I think it is right that is a mix a both things, but I would also add more, because as an art you can create and feel free to do it. But the ones you mentioned made me think, and seem to be, maybe, the most importants for poetry.

Love you a lot

Mariana Soffer said...

Before i ended reading your comment, I thought exactely what you said to me, that it can be very frustrating. Well that is how life is, if you take chances you can loose or you can win, if you do not you will never get frustrated but I guess you can bore yourself to death indeed.


Mariana Soffer said...

I am happy just to know that I make you think! all you need for me is to do it and that's it.
Sorry but I did not understood what you mean starting from, @was it not lazy .. " I guess you meant you are busy with your poetry, but I might be wrong, excuse my limited language knowledge to understand what you meant on that phrase.
Anyway you probably should dedicate your time to your peotry, which is increadible and great.

Take care

Stu said...

Another fascinating post on one of my favourite subjects.

Your opening paragraph makes a very interesting point. Perhaps the subject/object is implied in some cases, but the implication is easily forgotten.

Mariana Soffer said...

Thank you very much for your compliment, it meankes me feel really raelly good indeed, because it comes from you.

I thinink the most important sentence is "implicit understanding of who it means something to ". which is what is usually forgoten, makes it seem the concept of meaning contradictory, but I came to the conclusion of not, I think that meaning for humans is a mix between an implicit and an explicit understanding we have about something.
The problem about the implication is that humans tend to take things for granted once they are settled and forget whenre they came from, they asumme they just are, and nothing else.

Hugs S