This file (a copy of which is, in
truth, visiting you, not the reverse)
links to other files with information about my work.
First book, Elements of Semiotics, 1999, St. Martin’s Press, N.Y.
Second book, Is Language a Music, 2004, Indiana University Press.
These pages were last updated Winter,
ELEMENTS OF SEMIOTICS
in the series "Signs and Semaphores" St. Martin’s Press. 1999
And also, the review by Robert E. Innes in the Semiotic Review of Books
Apologia - Evidently many readers of this book thought that it was meant to
serve as an introductory "textbook". It isn't. They are
mislead by 1) my
many (over)simplifications of difficult issues; 2) their misreading of
the word "elements" (which is explained in the book and below.) and 3) my
insistence that the book requires no prerequisites; that it can be a starting point.
Considered as a subdivision of philosophy, semiotics is a demanding specialty, but one intention of my book is to widen the distance between philosophy and semiotics. Take a parallel case: Although psychology is still a special study inside philosophy, it has also and more importantly become an independent field. My book does not encroach on philosophy in any depth though there is, I think, some fun dabbling with it and some good exercise. The real need I saw was to create a semiotics, a General Semiotics, a "practical semiotics," as blissfully careless of philosophy as a chemist is when working in her laboratory, a semiotics that provides concepts for thinking about signs in their diversity and particularities. (Or, the way I put in the in forward of my second book, a semiotics able to compare a particular picture and a particular sonata but also, within that sonata, to compare measure 3 with measure 17. Philosophers violate their mandate if they try to make philosophy THAT particular.) The keyword is "compare." Semiotics, productive on its own terms, rather than as a subdivision of philosophy or of linguistics or of musicology, must be--as I hope the book demonstrates--a comparative venture. General Semiotics is the study which allows us to compare the representational capacities of different media and different ways of regulating signs. Knowing of no comprehensive theory that addressed this problem, my intention was to make one. Specific concepts are developed which serve that purpose.
In so far as no prerequisite is demanded, the book may be considered introductory. Because it constructs at least part of a system, it must present "elements." (I use the term as Euclid did.) No one has told me that this book is easy to read, nor have I ever claimed it to be. The difficulties are least in the beginning and greater in the middle, and I believe they are due to the subject much more than to my failures of exposition.