Cadences and harmonies of verbal and dramatic narratives

Several years before his death, the famous Estonian semiotician Yuriy Lotman came to Prague and the thing that I still remember from his talk is an admonition that boundaries are the places to study because that's the most interesting phenomena happen (or come to the surface) at the border between two stereotypes (my words not his).

Franklin and the complexities of American national identity

January 13, 2006, Science Friday = Franklin at 300

Franklin as inventor, socialite and statesman, and take a look at the Tercentenary Exhibition in his honor, now open in Philadelphia.

Self-organization of iconic linguistic items

The Aargh Page
# Not surpisingly, "argh" is much more frequent than any of the alternatives, and the items with fewer 'a's or 'r's are more frequent than their longer neighbors.
# However, there are high-frequency islands, even way out in the long-word planes. For example, "a17r23gh" (17,23) occurs in 171 pages, even though if you change the number of 'a's or 'r's by one, it drops at least 20-fold. "A15r5gh" is almost 100 times more frequent than its neighbors.

News reporting as a cognitive (speech) act

ABC News: Sharon Reportedly Moves One of His Hands

The headline is the only thing of interest here. It is an example of several things. On the one hand, it shows how easily a person's personal tragedy can be abstracted away from the larger symbolism (Terry Shiavo last year and Charles Kennedy this are other examples).

Analogies and blends - new category old ideas

I thought, I might add another category for the new year. analogies. This springs from two separate and seemingly conflicting tendencies in my intellectual life. One is to expose potentially harmful and disparate analogies and the other is to create new analogies to illuminate similarities otherwise unnoticed.

Towards a cognitive morphology of the folktale

Propp and other formalists had many things figured out quite right. Then the structuralists came and elevated emergent properties to the level of meaning creation. This post is an analogy in the sense that it compares the idea of the 'morphology of the folktale' but takes the source domain from cognitive morphology rather than traditional semi-structuralist morphology.

Creation of meaning and music analogies

Now, here's an analogy that occured to me as I was pondering the indeterminacy of the meaning of some technical term in social science (I think it was metaphor). But it occurred to me that creating meaning (in the Brunerian sense) is very much like playing certain instruments (such as slide guitar). With slide guitar, a note is played by approaching the position on the fretboard. However, unlike playing a normal tone, i.e. pressing a finger on a certain position, the note is held by constant motion of the slide over the fret.

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