Member 1397
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The Total Library
Utrecht, NL
Immortal since Jan 6, 2008
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I am a Crystalpunk from Bongo-Bongo Land, that is in DaDaFriCa.
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    Communication is not Language
    Quote from George Steiner, the greatest evolutionist in language. Found in Extraterritorial.

    Bees dance exact messages to each other as to the direction, amount, and quality of honey to be found. Dolphins pipe signals of warning and summons. It may be that the trills and whistles of birds convey rudimentary meaning. Meaning, in fact, is the essence, the underlying structure of natural forms. Colours, sequences, odours, regularities, or salient anomalies of shape and event, all are informant. Almost every phenomenon can be ‘read’ and classed as a statement. It signals danger or solicitation. Lack or availability of nourishment; it points towards or away from other significant structures. Living beings, above elementary units, dispose of a large, manifold range of articulation: postures, gestures, colourations, tonalities, secretions, facial mien. Separately or in conjunction, these communicate a message, a unit or unit cluster of focused information. Life proceeds amid an incessant network of signals, to sort out from the random flux those literally vital to oneself and one’s specie, and to decode the pertinent signal with sufficient speed and accuracy. An organism failing to do so, either because its receptors are blunted or because it ‘misreads’, will perish. A marmot dies when it misread – i.e. fails to decode accurately – the message of tint, odour, or texture which differentiates the statement of identity of a venomous mushroom from that of a edible variety.

    In the message-flight of the bee, the exact angle matters; each beck and volte in our courtship minuet of the moor-hen is an expression of coded meaning; very probably, a pointer can ‘read’ accurately hundreds of gradations of smell. Long before man, the planet was many-hued, loud and odorous with statement and reply. We know of fossils of organic structures three thousand million years old. The development of specific information codes, of signal systems through which emitter and receiver could formulate and exchange messages of identity, need, and sexual correlation, cannot be much younger. Where there is multi-cellular life, where different phyla coexist and compete, there is, there has to be, the articulation of meaning. Only the inert is mute. Only total death has no statement to make.

    I have not until now used the word language.

    Wed, Jan 9, 2008  Permanent link

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