Re: continuity vs binary

Matthew S. Tomaso (Tomaso@MAIL.UTEXAS.EDU)
Sun, 29 Oct 1995 10:38:06 -0600

for our discussion of structuralism, so I will have to await further
elaborations by her or other listmembers. I have the feeling that she is
either sailing over my head or has simply outpaced me on the ground.
It seems to me that the English language, among others, is not a very
adequate medium for the representation of continuous forms of data. Like
any language, or any other kind of systematics or code (including digits),
it is inherently reductive and, at least according to Saussure, based on
(structured by) contrastive meanings which operate at different scales,
_but_ _are_ _only_ _polarized_ _in_ _analysis_ - not in practice. Thus,
when Levi Strauss performs analysis of a myth, he might pick up on an
oppositional relationship, described in the myth, between, for example,
light blue and blue. Now, nobody will claim that light blue and blue are
polar opposites, but the fact is that the mythmakers opposed these meanings
to strcuture/frame meanings in the myth - blue does, in fact connote 'not
(exactly) light blue,' while light blue connotes 'not (exactly) blue' in teh
myth's meaning system, which is defined by particular scale - which in turn
defines a limited range of possible meanings. For the myth, these
oppositions may or may not define the range of possible colors. Nobody will
ever claim that it presents us with evidence as to the total range of colors
recognized in the mythmakers' language, but it does allow L-S to get a
little closer to the myth's own logic, IMO.
best ,

Matt Tomaso.
Anthropology. University of Texas at Austin.
Phone/Fax 512-453-6256