Skip to main content


Showing posts from June, 2016

phatics and the nature of the firm

It occurred to me when I was attending a talk by John Kay about "rents" in the creative sector that transaction costs are somewhat related to phatics. 

Consider the traditional roles in publishing: there's the AUTHOR, there's the PUBLISHER, and the DISTRIBUTOR.  At each step, AUTHOR->PUBLISHER and PUBLISHER->DISTRIBUTOR, DISTRIBUTOR->READER there is some transaction cost, e.g. traditionally the author has to send out letters to lots of different publishers looking for someone who will take on the manuscript, and that's a lot of work.  So, we introduce some "optimizations" and further roles, e.g. the AUTHOR might hire an AGENT who will intermediate with publishers.

Any one of these roles or connections might have some phatic dimension, but the AGENT in particular is someone who "speaks on behalf" of the author.

Coase's theory of the firm is basically that corporate bodies come into existence in order to optimize, so that rather tha…

"weaponized intertextuality"

In this new generation of films
more and more
the intertextual manifests itself as
objects, people, or situations
specifically meant to trigger an emotional response in the viewer ...
I don’t think franchises and shared universes are bad by default
quite the opposite
at their best they build interpretive communities
and foster social bonds in an increasingly alienated world
the kind of intertextuality that we’re talking about
can reflect these good qualities
and when it’s done right
when it’s not a substitute
for strong characters and a good story
it can be funny
it can be amusingly subversive
and of course it can add to the drama
while still being exciting as hell.

Distinctions in function

I happened to just have re-typed a few pages from an old zoosemiotics issue of Semiotica when I read your latest comments. Both deal (in part) with bee dance, so I thought I'd share it here:

Wilden, Anthony 1972. Analog and Digital Communication: On the Relationship between Negation, Signification, and the Emergence of the Discrete Element. Semiotica 6(1): 50-82.Distinctions in function. If we leave the computers from which the distinction was originally drawn and look at communication between organisms, it seems that man is the only organism to use both processes for communication with his peers. [Footnote 6: I would speak of analog thinking or knowing, for instance, as well as analog and digital communication. The analog would cover the emotive, the phatic, the conative, and the poetic; the digital, the cognitive and the metalingual. Phatic communion (Sebeok 1962) describes the main aspects of the symbolic function in Lévi-Strauss and Lacan (Wilden 1968),[1] both of which involv…

phatics in biosemiotics

from A Critical Companion to Zoosemiotics: People, Paths, Ideas, by Dario Martinelli, p. 79

Some quite illuminating quotes there.

Rather less believably:

And mind-bendingly:

glitch: science and aesthetic

I've finally gotten around to doing some tangible work with computer poetry.  Very preliminary stuff: for this round of experiments, my programming contributions are mostly just "glue code".  (But isn't that concept itself at least mildly interesting?)

I've put a preprint/draft online, "X575: a renga writing program in its infancy".

Here's an example poem.  As my coauthor pointed out, "It asks for a lot of interpolation from the reader."

busied for pandas --
the maternity has born
a knack of aircraft

judges of today
nothing but number to bus
to his weatherman

defacing passing --
I went to a crude bearing
the nova of mobs

that pause in the prayer --
this humanitarian --
from the spongy cruise 

My only reason for selecting this particular example (which didn't make the cut for the paper) was that the reference to "the nova of mobs" is a completely inadvertent (well, everything here is inadvertent) reference to Burroughs's (1…

Phaticity and the social field

As much as I enjoy older sources (1950-1960) in phatic studies, it turns out that later ones (1970-1980) are actually much more thorough and relevant for advancing phatic theories. Since you expressed interest in the topic of "social fields" (i.e. social systems in Ruesch, and "perspectives" in Morris, among several other equivalents), I thought I'd share this one individually, before sending you an updated version of "Not the current year in phatics".

Hörmann, Hans 1979. Psycholinguistics: An Introduction to Research and Theory. New York, etc.: Springer-Verlag.Similar distinguishing characteristics can be noted in looking upon language as response. The speech event produced by an individual A is hardly ever the last link in a stimulus-response chain;[1] it is generally a directed response transmitted from A to B. The linguistic response is produced by A with the intention of making B react. In other words, a verbal response can only be regarded as th…