Understanding Representation (Understanding Contemporary Culture series)
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Understanding Representation offers an accessible, engaging, and genuinely interdisciplinary introduction to the concept of representation. Drawing together the ideas, practices, and techniques associated with the subject, this book puts them in historical context and demonstrates their relevance to everyday life. Topics include linguistic and political representation, art and media, and philosophical and cognitive approaches.
itself, but is used as a sign of the end of the day, as a RESEMBLANCE, REPRESENTATION AND REALITY 31 metaphor for romance, for the end of things, or for the completion of a legal contract. A sunset does not 'mean' per se; it is not an artefact designed for meaning but a physical phenomenon. Still, we make it mean. We also make each other 'mean', in a similar way, because we read people's minds ~ that is, we name the state of someone else's mind based on how we perceive their actions, and what
that 'me', the one spoken of, from T, the speaking self. In achieving my symbolic and divided self, I lose the connectedness of me. Figure 3.4 © Paul Travers 2006 A second loss is that of full connection with all the things of the world. As an infant there is no distinction between myself and everything I experience. But now, as a symbolic subject, I find myself isolated from everything else, and from other people. There is no way of achieving that initial sense of oneness once we move under the
with different groups and interests represented on a proportional basis. But the individual who fitted the norm would still be unlikely to represent all interests equally. Suppose there is a woman member of parliament who is Asian and gay and a trained welder - for what community of interest is she an effective substitute? How can she speak for - make present - all those groups of whom she can be considered a membeç let alone everyone else in her constituency say, Caucasian professional men
ways. The first is the images of exhausted old men, grieving women and shattered children, living in dire circumstances in refugee camps; the second is furious young men, hurling stones at Israeli soldiers or heading off to become the next wave of suicide bombers. Both are empirically true: certainly these images are not invented. But they are limited and interested images - limited in that the entire Palestinian community is framed only as loss or violence, interested in that it 142
basic principles of that community, and certainly share the same sign system - particular linguistic codes, for instance. How they use those codes, however, and how they organize and present signs within those codes, is the site for struggle over the terms of 'truth' and power. 'Various classes will use the same language,' Volosinov goes on to write, and therefore 'differently oriented accents intersect in every ideological sign. Sign becomes the arena of class struggle' (1973: 23). We have seen