It’s time to take this blog to its origins for a moment. As the latest political season is upon us, authenticity becomes ever more an issue. Critical theory and semiotics is the basis of this blog. Semiotics is the study of words and meaning. It is a deep and extensive linguistic study; we can only touch upon it here.
It begins with the study of the word and its object. Often known as the signifier and the signified. When simple and concrete, it is not very sophisticated. Teaching the child the words “mama”, “papa”, apple, orange while pointing to its object is simple and direct. When the object is no longer in the room, the signifier gets more complicated. Equally when the signified is an abstract idea, the signifier becomes ever more elastic. You can already see how the vastness opens before us.
Our world has become vastly more complicated and abstract. Words struggle to capture things accurately. So…many of the topics in the news today suffer within this context. The Iran nuclear deal is a complete semiotic swamp. Objectively, it doesn’t exist. It can’t exist. There are a thousand Iran nuke agreements. One for every participant and scribe. There are thousands more for every interpreter and critic. There are only Iran nuke simulacra. There is no original.
The same is true of Clinton’s emails. The same is true of who and what Isis is. It is the same for who and what Congress is. They are ephemeral figments. All truth and accuracy is lost or veiled. Any connection to truth is lost or evasive. The signifier no longer accurately describes the signified. The connection between word and object has been ruptured. Sometimes that is the sorry result of poor articulation; sometimes it is the very purpose.
The candidates themselves are also prone to this very rupture. Authenticity is the accurate pairing of signifiers that define and represent the signified. I believe that that is what is drawing people to Sanders and Trump. They believe, at least so far, what you see is what you get. A refreshing authenticity. You can decide later whether you can live with that particular authenticity, but at least you feel it is honest. Hilary is probably the least authentic candidate in that her semiotic rupture is the widest and most damning. Lack of “trust” could be defined as the rupture between signifier and signified.
This topic gets only deeper and more complex. Today I leave the above as food for thought. We can come back around. But for the reader to grasp this fundamental semantic idea is to have a fresh view of what we feel haunts us everyday as we try to relate to our political climate. Semiotic authenticity or lack of same explains our current political malaise and doubt. I hope it adds an arrow to your quiver. I hope it illuminates the political haze.