(What… TF… is.. this.) Signiconic {?}

This is a leviathan discourse of the signiconic. I don’t know if any of this supports all of your readings, but I would suggest that if I’m close to some element of truth, that your comments can help us create our “global village.”

Danielewski defines signiconic as follows:

“Signiconic = sign + icon. Rather than engage those textual faculties of the mind remediating the pictorial or those visual faculties remediating language, the signiconic simultaneously engages both in order to lessen the significance of both, and therefore achieve a third perception no longer dependent on sign and image for remediating a world in which the mind plays no part.”

In the post All the Colors, I briefly comment on the relationship between the sign and the icon. My claim is that Narcon^9 is the frame through which the reader understands the identity of each of the characters in the novel, and it follows that because Narcon^9 is the frame, the reader does not necessarily understand or know each character’s immediate sensory experiences, since the Narcon describes characters and their experiences in the way that Narcon understands both of which . As a result, the reader notices that there are breaks in the text that do not actual break the text into parts, but they actually blur the separation between the sign and the icon. One may argue that there are many occurrences of this phenomena throughout the text, but, for now, I will use pg. 639 as the stepping-stone.

This section embodies my argument because of its allusion.  There is a question of “how many days and hours… it [had] taken just to hear “message” instead of ” The heart quickens at such a massage”?” This is a reference to Marshall McLuhan’s, The Medium is the Massage, which causes the reader to reconstruct/deconstruct/re-fragmentate The Familiar as a testimonial to McLuhan’s work, and furthermore a metafictional exploration of the ramifications that both their modes of writing call into [re]action.

McLuhan’s “massage” mentions the idea of “Acoustic space: boundless, directionless, horizonless, in the dark of the mind, in the world of emotion, by primordial intuition, by terror.” (pg.48)  This “acoustic space” is a prominent concept that figures into the [in/re/con]ception of Danielewski’s work HOL , in which the term is described in relation to the ineluctable and inexorable infinity (mobius strip?) that the house represents . I mention this concept here because there is a way that TF’s references to Danielewski’s other works serves to traverse time,form, and linearity to serve other more inclusive purposes. McLuhan also states that our sense of hearing is more in tune with the “environment” than vision, beacusing hearing allows us to experience life enveloped in “acoustic space;” this relationship is established because sound is heard at the locus of the ear, but is received from every direction at once.

McLuhan states that in our media’s current state, “electric circuitry is recreating in us the multi-dimensional space orientation of the “primitive”, “ (pg. 56) and that “electronic interdependence recreates the world in the image of a global image.” (pg. 67)

So, how does this relate to the signiconic?

At first, the definition of the signiconic seemed exceedingly profound to me. I could not grasp the concept because I did not understand what the end of remediation is, nor did I comprehend what it means to “remediate a world in which the mind plays no part.” After reading McLuhan’s work, I realize that the use of multiple different types of languages, narrative and page formats/structures are the signiconic’s means of constructing a world that inherently calls into question mere representation in itself, which causes the reader  to remediate their own sensory experience of the text.  For example, if the reader uses the internet to translate the singlish found in jingjing’s sections for all of jingjing’s sections, the reader is exposed to a font-type and a voice that resounds aurally, visually, empathetically, and in their mind’s eye, as naturally as if the tale was in english; this feeling is experienced if and only if the reader uses some mode of media (or an “apparatus,” like a person who speaks the language) to understand this foreign idea. Jingjing is obviously not the only character that requires additional information and self-projection, and because all of these characters require a certain level of both, it follows that we find a sense of ourselves in each one of the stories by end of this volume. I’d like to note this is a specific scenario, but the extent of this dialogue can be carried to enhance the analysis of narrative arcs that include individual characters being connected by some object or some higher calling, or even the images that begin each chapter; the ends all means all is that they are connected through difference and similarity, because they are signs and icons of one another (or not). If not, then the reader chooses to trust the Narcon and understand that “Most of the iconic goes unsigned,” which may adhere to the set-up for Narcon^9, but may not necessarily be the case in future volumes with other Narcons (or even Xanther, if she, as the character who seems like McLuhan’s poster child, develops a sense of going beyond her self to be immersed in the environment as a completely understanding being———— this applies only if one thinks she is alive; my own reading of the end of the novel made me feel — because of the way the words are structured in the page in a signiconically significant way– as if the was an incubus trying to take the last bit of her breath it couldn’t pull from her earlier ((((((((( I guess that’s why the mind is involved in the signiconic

Acoustic      Space       =        boundless       infinite?     understanding {?} )))))))))


One response to “(What… TF… is.. this.) Signiconic {?}”

  1. xoebien says :

    Signiconic is indeed a perplexing phenomena, because as readers of codex formatted texts, we are accustomed to reading just the words, our minds in turn can go wild with imagining and constructing images that solidify personal (memory and emotive) meaning to the written information provided. However, as you have mentioned, Danielewski’s definition is inviting a new perception “in which the mind plays no part”- the running race of colors and landscape and faces that normally goes spurring about in our hippocampus [the memory and emotion storage space of our brain] is not to be the central faculty for which to understand The Familiar. Instead, we are making connections between what we see and what we read and what we remember and what we know and what other people know and what we could find out and what we can’t find out and all of it at once—
    your quote from McLuhan describing Acoustic Space explains this perfectly. Especially the “terror” which one could experience in the wake of such a overwhelming limitlessness of the mind’s eye.
    But as you are suggesting, Xanther, seems to have a better grasp on this signiconic way of knowing; she listens to the cacophony of acoustic sounds, and although we know her mind to be fully engaged with the world around her (trying to make sense of the fragments to a larger whole), she reacts to her signiconic experience from a place of gut intuition rather than critical computation of possible courses of action.
    She just goes.
    To find.
    An answer.
    That’s why we like her, because she seems to be intuitively understanding, or at least open to any kind of understanding she can get her hands on (Question Song and vocab practice). She seems to let go of the ego, the entity of the mind that turns inward rather than outward, in order to ‘see [hear {something else entirely}]’ the world around her- all of the tiny parts of the universe, knowing that they connect, but also knowing that the ways in which they interweave are endless- “lots and lots of [tiny] {w}holes. Adding up to one big {w}hole. One engulfing {cat}sum.” (67).
    What happens if you allow yourself to be engulfed?…and then look{listen}[FEEL](p.746)— understand the echoes and chasm, the cries within the pitter patter cacophony again, but now, it’s something different.

    I seem to be getting farther away from clarity.

    Still, the signiconic has nothing really to do with clear and distinct lines enclosure, does it?

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