I still need to complete Assignment Two – the displaced image.  However, since we are currently at the end of the Easter school holidays I am a little limited with my time and opportunities to concentrate.  I have instead started scooting about the Internet looking at videos about semiotics, and also reading Daniel Chandler’s introductory book which I am really enjoying.  Although challenging, I am finding it all incredibly interesting and even exciting because it covers areas and subjects that I have always thought about and wanted to look at. When I saw that semiotics ties together various branches of anthropology, as well as a range of other related subjects, I was thrilled because I was really keen to study anthropology several years ago but it never really happened.

One of the most intriguing things I saw this morning was the section on synapses in a Very Short Introduction to Semitiotics (CIEE Centre, 2014).  The number of synapses in our brains connected to the outside world is 0.00001% which leaves rather a lot of other synapses unconnected to the outside.  The narrater tells us that we live inside our brains and that “by the age of 14 we have created a copy of the outside world in our brain including language, culture and worldview” (CIEE Centre, 2014). Which, he surmises, is why it’s so important to understand the semiotic nature of our human mind.

I am always extremely hesitant to accept anything I come across on the Internet as ‘the truth’ -there is so much misrepresentation, deliberate and otherwise.  Anyone, even me, can pop what ever we want up there and if it’s said with enough authority it has the possibility of sounding correct.  So I don’t want to swallow that section of the video without further research but I found it fascinating.  The notion that such a high percentage of what goes on chemically and physically, towards the creation of our understanding of reality, is actually internal and relates to a model that is formed by the age 14 is mind blowing – and answers as well as poses plenty of questions about personality and character.  I keep thinking about the book I read just before I started this course, The Ego Trick, by Julian Baggini – and how he argues that the idea of a self is a necessary and evolutionary adaptive illusion, but an illusion nevertheless.  I can’t wait to find out more about these synapses.


The other thing that struck me was one of the questions at the end of the video; roughly quoted, what happens when you introduce cultural ideas, institutions or “mentifacts” from one society into another?  (CIEE, 2014)  I have long thought about this as something in relation to child rearing practices in our own society.  We have a  lot of choice, which is great if one methodology doesn’t feel ‘right’ to you.  But I think it is also a source of plenty of difficulty for parents.  But more of that another time.

Image (c)SJField 2016


CIEE Centre, Amman. (2014) At: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LO9xl5n9aYI&nohtml5=False (Accessed on 8 April 2016)

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 13.22.18.png
A screen shot of the video on YouTube produced by the the CIEE Centre in Amman for a class called Intercultural Communication.  I really hope this is an authentic slide and would like to find out more.  (Note the videos down the side – semiotics, semiotics, semiotics and Minecraft.  Don’t share your YouTube account with an 8 year old.)

6 thoughts on “Notes: Section 3 Of Signs and Symbols

    1. 25? Not sure that’s right Catherine! In my case you could add a few decades!
      SJF – Synapses: I was at a talk where artist Anne Brodie showed some research she had done in this area – she’s really worth a look – and showed this video which came to mind http://youtu.be/6zVS8HIPUng


      1. Now that looks really interesting! Another to add to my list of things to look at later this evening. I will be busy. All I keep thinking about is how Jung emphasises the deep importance and value of our inner worlds…well, if most of our brain activity is going on inside our heads, then yes, he of course was right. The narrator in the video says we live most of our lives inside our heads… it’s just fascinating!


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