Tuesday, February 16, 2010

This last week’s reading was all from Roland Barthes. There are some complicated concepts in these readings that Barthes himself admitted that they were difficult to articulate. “The Third Meaning” is a description of a term that is outside of language. To pinpoint what it exactly is gets complicated because it varies from person to person much like that of the punctum. Since there were a few different ways describing the 3rd meaning it was helpful to diagram out, to the best of my ability, Barthes terminology. I attempted to try and locate the interchangeability of terminology used to describe this 3rd meaning. Barthes describes each level of meaning in a film or more specifically, a film still. He quickly mentions the first level and that is of information, which is then described as communication. The second is a symbolic level, which is that of signification. Out of the 2nd level derives the 3rd level (or meaning) which is Signifiance, or the obtuse meaning. Signification is the root of a tree of terminology that branches out to the third meaning. Stemming directly for signification is the signifier and the signified. In Barthes’ “The Photographic Meaning” he states the signifier as the result of the action of the creator.” Then he states that the signified as referring to a certain culture of the society receiving the message. With the signifier being on a separate branch of the signification tree than that of the signified, the Signifiance is then brought out of the signifier. The third meaning has no goal, or better stated, is not intended to stand for something. It stems from the beginning of a symbolic message, that of the signifier, but does not meet the expectations of a specific signified event. To better explain what the 3rd level is you have to describe what it isn’t. The obvious meaning needs to be explained because the two can get confused at first. The obvious meaning is usually symbolic and intentional by the author. It is specifically brought to the viewer by the author and then moved ahead of them. The third meaning, or obvious meaning, opens up a field of meaning that extends outside culture, knowledge and information. This is how Barthes is to say that it extends outside of language. Barthes describes a film still in which an old woman is squinting wearing a hat and a scarf. He mentions the presence of the third meaning in this shot and then a second later it’s gone. It’s a fleeting moment that “in connection with the noble grief of the obvious meaning, they form a dialogism so tenuous that there is no degree if its intentionality.” This statement reinforces the fact that these 3rd meaning happenings occur outside of the authors intention. To describe it in a different way the obtuse meaning carries a certain emotion. Barthes states that it is an emotion that designates what one loves, what one wants to defend.

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