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Finger Power

February 6, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Communication can be seen as a series of “chained meanings” whereby one item connects to another to create meaning. Connections come in multiple forms and via this variety numerous additional connections are created. We have a sense of what the speaker is saying but are keenly aware that other meanings exist. Ultimately we must select a meaning and hold it as our sense of what is being communicate. In order to make sense of the world we must consider potential meanings and make a selection.

This process of selection is highly dynamic and involves our filtering of both complimentary and destructive connections. Sarcasm and irony suggest a disconnection of meaning while simile and metaphor suggesting similarity. Using mere tone and a cadre of suggestions emitting from the speaker we draw down and frame sense. The sheer size of the options makes one wonder how we communicate at all.

Is it a miracle that we understand each other given such variety?

Interestingly we often work to complicate this already difficult process of communication. We charge certain connections with ideas like profanity and vulgarity- concepts of morality that further muddy an already complicated process. Emotion charges our connections of  “meaning making”. In these situations a middle finger holds greater meaning than a thumb or a pursed pair of extended lips suggests suggestion and flirtation. Biology becomes political.

Broadcasted these meaning-laden items on television and a world erupts. Consider the entire response to the broadcast of a raised middle finger. Measured on the basis of expenditure of thoughts and emotion that tiny finger generates an immense amount of energy. Can we justify such a reaction as sane or does it suggest a deeper lack of reasoning present in our culture? Of course such wondering is useless because it occurs no what. No matter how we consider the utility of these moments they occur on a daily basis in our own individual worlds. Communications power is astonishing. Though often bewildering, considered from a wider perspective our laying of physical gestures with meaning showcases our complexity.

 

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