Kaja Silverman expands on Oudart’s and Miller’s Lacanian interpretations of suture in cinema. She points out that Psycho undermines. Kaja Silverman flyer – Lectures In her four lectures, Kaja Silverman will argue that a. kaja silverman flyer – lectures in her four lectures, kaja. Subject of Semiotics Kaja Silverman has given us just that. . of “suture” (the term used to describe the var- of the suture in film analysis to the psycho- analytic.
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Search the history of over billion web pages on the Internet. First published in by Oxford University Press.
No pan of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of Oxford University Press. The sutture of semiotics. For Michael and Philosophy in the Kitchen This page intentionally left blank Preface The book that follows is intended as a methodological guide to a group of semiotic writings frequently taught in advanced un- dergraduate courses in North America and Britain, writings that are silvermaan the most part available in English.
It should therefore be viewed as a supplementary and explanatory text rather than as one that precedes the reading of any primary semiotic ma- terials. The Subject of Semiotics differs from other synthetic books on post-structuralism in three important ways. First, it maintains the centrality of psychoanalysis to semiotics; it proposes, that is, that the human subject is to a large degree the subject of semi- otics.
Kaja Silverman Suture
The chapters of this book approach the connection be- tween psychoanalysis and semiotics in a variety of ways, but each argues that signification occurs only through discourse, that discourse requires a subject, and that the subject itself is an effect of discourse. The final three chapters also situate signi- fication, discourse, and subjectivity within the larger symbolic order that determines maja relation to each other.
Second, The Subject of Semiotics wuture the connections be- tween literary and cinematic texts and theory to be at all points reciprocal, and it attempts consistently to pose one in relation to the other. Wilverman theoretical discussions merge into literary and cinematic explorations, and analyses of specific novels, poems, and films return us to broader speculative paths.
Not only does psy- choanalytic semiotics establish that authoritative vision and speech have traditionally been male prerogatives, whereas women have more frequently figured as the object of that vision and speech, but it provides a vivid dramatization of this role divi- sion at the level of its own articulation. The theoreticians most fully associated with this branch of semiotics — Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan — function as exemplary representatives of the paternal values they locate at the center of the existing sym- bolic order.
The relationship xuture the female subject kaua semiotic theory is thus necessarily an ambivalent one. That theory affords her a sophisticated understanding of her present cultural condition, but it also seems to confine her forever to the status of one who is seen, spoken, and analyzed. In the sections of this book devoted to sexual difference Chapters 4 and 5I have attempted just such a rewriting of female subjectivity. I have tried, that is, to denaturalize the con- dition of woman, and to isolate its cultural determinants.
This project puts silvermah certain critical distance between my discourse and those of Freud and Lacan, particularly whenever the Oedipus complex is on the agenda.
Chapter 1 of The Subject of Semiotics charts the path leading from Ferdinand de Saussure and Charles Sanders Peirce to that much more recent body of semiotic theory within which the categories of discourse, subjectivity, and the symbolic order centrally figure.
It thus provides a context for the chapters that follow. Chapter 3 accounts for the sets condensation and displacement, metaphor and metonymy, and paradigm and syntagm in terms of these processes, thereby Preface IX demonstrating the impossibility of isolating even the most ru- dimentary of signifying formations from subjectivity.
Chapter 4 outlines the two most important theories of the subject made available by semiotics — the Silveeman and the Lacanian — theo- ries that give a conspicuous place kajx discourse and the symbolic order. Chapter 5 uses the theory of suture to articulate the re- lationship between the subject and the discourse of the classic cinematic text, and to explore some of the ideological implica- tions of that relationship.
Silvermzn also outlines some of the strategies evolved by Roland Barthes for uncovering the symbolic field inhabited by the individual literary instance. Whenever possible 1 have utilized English language sources, so as to facilitate ready access to those sources for as wide a range of readers as possible. The numerous literary and cine- matic examples are also intended as aids to the general reader.
I would like to thank John Wright for encouraging me to write this book, and Bob Silvermxn and JoAnn Putnam-Scholes for intellectual and culinary support while I was doing so. Khachig Tololyan read a late version of this book, and offered such fine and persuasive sklverman that I returned enthusiastically to the typewriter, for which I am most grateful. Thanks are also due to Leona Cape- less, whose editorial suggestions untangled many syntactic sutre, and helped me to say what I meant.
Finally, 1 would like to thank Michael Silverman, who read this book at every stage of its production with the silvermam most of us reserve for our own work. That consolidation was effected by Jacques Lacan. Semiotics involves the study of signification, but significa- tion cannot be isolated from the human subject who uses it and is defined by means of it, or from the cultural system which generates it! This chapter attempts to demonstrate that the theory of sig- nification has evolved in ways kajw increasingly implicate the subject and the symbolic order, and that this evolution finds one of its jaja important culminations in the writings of the linguist Emile Benveniste.
On Kaja Silverman’s Notion of “Suture” in Film Theory
Other important developments in the theory of signification were engineered by Charles Sanders Peirce who started writ- ing well before Saussure, but whose work was assimilated much laterby Roland Barthes, and by Jacques Derrida. Peirce in- creases the number of signifying relationships over those charted by Saussure, and makes the human subject their sup- port.
Barthes demonstrates that signification cannot be di- vorced from the operations of myth or ideology, and that it thus always implies the larger cultural field.
Derrida indicates that certain privileged terms not acknowledged by Saussure function to anchor and restrain the play of signification. He also reveals the ideological basis of those terms, and in so doing attempts to liberate signification from their dominance. All three of these theoreticians agree that meaning is much more open- ended than Saussure would have us believe, and that it cannot be isolated from the symbolic order.
As I have already indicated, this argument has profound implications for our understanding of both the subject and the symbolic order.
That book not only reconceived linguistics along semiotic lines, but it called for the application of its semiotic principles to all aspects of culture: Language is a system of signs that express ideas, and is therefore comparable to a system of writing, the alphabet of From Sign to Subject, A Short History 5 deaf-mutes, symbolic rites, polite formulas, military signals, etc.
But it is the most important of all these systems. A science that studies the life of signs within society is con- ceivable; it would be part of social psychology and conse- quently of general psychology; I shall call it semiology.
Semiology would show silvermaj constitutes signs, what laws gov- ern them. Since the suturf does not yet exist, no one can say what it would be; but it has a right to existence, a place staked out in advance.
Linguistics is only a part of the general science of semiology; the laws discovered by semiology will be appli- cable to linguistics, silvermn the latter will circumscribe sutuee well- defined area within the mass of anthropological facts.
The privileged status enjoyed by language within semiotic theory has provoked some students of film to stress the image rather than the sound track, and to locate cinematic syntax at the level of shot-to-shot relationships instead of at the level of dialogue. Indeed the sign itself is a relational entity, a composite of two parts that signify not only through those features sllverman make each of them slightly different from any other two parts, but through their association with each other.
For Saussure, speech represents the realiza- tion or manifestation of the linguistic signifier, not the linguis- tic signifier itself. Writing, in turn, represents the transcription of speech.
The bond between the signifier and the signified is arbi- trary.
Since I mean by sign the whole that results from the associating of the signifier with the signified, I can simply say: No two En- glish speakers will pronounce the same word identically on all occasions, and there is likely to be even more variety at the conceptual level. What permits us to recognize a word when it is spoken by a person from a dialectal region other than our own silvermann the fact that the word in question more closely resembles our own version of it than it does any other word.
On Kaja Silverman’s Notion of “Suture” in Film Theory – Charles Jensen
Similarly, what enables us to communicate conceptually are certain shared features at the level of the signified. In short, the identity of a given signifier or a given signified is established through the ways in which it differs from all other signifiers or silvdrman within the same system. Saussure illustrates this point through a chess analogy: Elsewhere in Course in General Linguistics he notes that whereas the substitution of ivory for wooden chessmen would in no way affect the game, a decrease or an increase in the number of chessmen would not only transform the entire game but the value of each element within it Saussure isolates two sorts of signs which would seem to vi- olate the principle that the connection between a signifier and its signified is always arbitrary: The first of these is easily disposed of: However, Saussure silvwrman that the signifi- cant semiotic fact here is the conventionalization of the relation between the two terms, not their similarity.
Because the second of these relations tends to obscure the first, Saussure finds that non-symbolic signifying systems make a more appropriate ob- ject of semiotic investigation silvermann do symbolic ones: Signs that are wholly arbitrary realize better than the others the ideal of the semiological process; that is why language, the most complex and universal of all systems of ksja, is also the most characteristic; in this sense linguistics can become the ssuture for all branches of semiology although lan- guage is only one particular semiological system.
It also suggests some of the problems implicit in that valorization. The Saussu- rean argument silveran functions to exclude many of the areas — psycholanalysis, literary and cinematic investigation, anthropol- ogy, ideological analysis — which have otherwise benefited most from it.
Semiotics sutyre become the interdisciplinary theory an- ticipated by Saussure only by ignoring his strictures about un- motivated signs, and by giving an equal place to languages in which the signifier and signified are more intimately affiliated. As Jonathan Culler observes in his monograph on Saussure, the arbitrariness of the linguistic sign extends beyond the rela- tion of signifier to signified. Each of the two kaaja of the lin- From Sign to Subject, A Kaaja History 9 guistic sign is itself arbitrary, which is another way of saying that neither part has any prior or autonomous existence: A language does not simply assign arbitrary names to a set of independently existing concepts.
It sets up an arbitrary rela- tion between signifiers of its own choosing sutuee the one hand, and signifieds of its own choosing on the other. These words clearly differ from each other at the level of the linguistic signifier — they are, in short, materially distinct.
They also differ at the level of the linguistic signified. Meaning emerges only through the play of difference within a closed system: Whether we take the signified or the signifier, language has neither ideas or sounds that existed before the linguistic system but only conceptual and solverman differences that have issued from the system.
The idea or phonic sub- stance that a sign contains sutufe of less importance than the other signs that surround it. It is concerned exclusively with three sorts of systemic re- lationships: We have already dealt with the first of these, but the other two iaja further consideration. Linguistic examples of similarity at the level of the signifier would include words with the same oaja or suffix, words that rhyme, or homonyms. Synonyms and anto- nyms provide linguistic examples of similarity at the level of the signified two words can only exist in an antonymic relationship if there is a point in common between them.
From Sign to Subject, A Short History 11 The various words within a sentence enjoy a syntagmatic rela- tionship with each other, as do the shots in a film or garments of clothing worn together. Like a paradigmatic cluster, language finds its locus only in memory — not so much in any single memory as in the memory of a culture. Speech, on the other hand, has an individual and localized existence.
The opposition between langue and parole collapses at var- ious points. Language euture after all nothing more than the sum of all available speech instances. Similarly, every speaker is obliged to draw upon the existing linguistic resources. Never- theless, Saussure not only maintains the distinction between the two categories, but privileges the former over the latter. He articulates the distinction between them in the course of a general discussion of linguistics, and in an attempt zuture assess the relative impor- tance of the values of simultaneity and the systematic over those of successivity and evolution: Synchronic linguistics kaj be concerned with the logical and psychological relations that bind together coexisting terms and form a system in the collective mind of speakers.
Diachronic linguistics, on the contrary, will study relations that bind together successive terms not perceived by the col- lective mind but substituted for each other without forming jaja system. Saussure struggled to turn lin- guistics away from comparative studies of words from different historical moments, like Old English and Modern English, to- ward an analysis of words in the context of their language sys- tem. It is in speaking that the germ of all change is found.
Each change is launched by a certain number of in- dividuals before it is accepted for general use. This criticism is to some degree warranted: Saus- From Sign to Subject, A Short History 13 sure does deal almost exclusively with closed, systemic relation- ships. At the same time, he provides us with categories — dia- chrony and speech — by means of which it is possible to negotiate at least a partial peace with historical theories like Marxism.
However, one possible way of conceptualizing dia- chrony within the Saussurean scheme would be to see it as a series of sulverman synchronies, with speech functioning both as the agency of change from one synchrony to another, and as a relay between sikverman and pressures external to it. This four-way relationship — the relationship, that is, between one synchrony and those which precede and follow it, speech, and an external diachrony or history — finds a very clear metaphoric articulation in Marcel Proust’s Within a Budding Grove.