Sunday, February 20, 2011

Shared meaning

If, as Kristeva suggests (in Steve’s post below), that people are what they do, then most people would be equated with their profession. And yet, I think if you spoke with most people they would agree that they are ‘not their job’ and are, in fact, multi-faceted beings with other interests, some seriously inculcated with their inner identity. I think that there’s always a public as well as private self and they’re not always the same. I guess that’s why I’m interested in the notion that we all wear masks to protect ourselves from exterior sources and it’s the characteristics of those masks that I find absorbing. Search for meaning means different things to different people however I maintain there is NO fundamental or inherent meaning to anything in the world. That people need a god to give meaning to their apparent accidental existence in a vast and mostly unexplained universe, is a matter for them to contend with. We create meaning because we live in a society that functions because of shared meanings. If we did not have a least some shared meanings we would be in a confusion of tongues, like those who were building the Tower of Babel. Of course, things that mean something to us at one time may not necessarily have the same weight at another.  Try to explain to ourselves why someone we loved thirty years ago is no longer relevant in our lives. Did love change or did we?  Does meaning and identity then have something to do with our current world view, which of course includes our place in the symbolic order and almost always in a state of flux. I think the mutability of our minds and our utter dependence upon others for understanding events in our lives is a significant factor. Other minds are certainly useful when it comes to meaning creation. On this point though, I don’t know that I’m necessarily engaged in a ‘search for meaning’ in my life. I know what means something to me and why, but I am interested in the fluidity of identity that, as Steve says comes from ‘an economy of impermanence’ and the ‘information age’ in which the ‘information overload’ sometimes causes our shared meanings to either burst out or implode. Either way, endogenous or exogenous, the problem of  'what is self' remains.

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