Colbert Doing Deconstruction

This week has been a reminder to me of just how funny a thing reality is. I talked last week about David’s reality after a dentist visit, but that post didn’t really deal with Meaning. Simply put, words mean stuff. They are symbols that are susceptible to change, and, as constructs of a sort of collective society (an ideology that we don’t often question), words don’t necessarily contain any truth. Example A:

The Wørd

Part of what I like about this video is that it shows how close “reality” actually comes to being “wikiality.” Wikiality is “the reality we can all agree on, the reality we just agreed on.” My big question is, so how is that different from reality? Reality is also what we can all agree on — you wouldn’t say that the thing signified by the word tree is a rubber band, rather you would agree that a tree is a tree. And it is indeed the reality we justagreed on — after all, “meh” has become a word.

Clearly wikiality is itself a metaphor. Wikiality isthe reality we just agreed on. Two words that are not the same (wikiality and reality) are put next to each other and called equal. But if we try to see if wikiality is an example of metonymy, it complicates the process. I think there are three basic approaches to this analysis.

1) Wikiality – Wikipedia – written by people – people lie – Wikipedia lies – Wikiality is a lie (metaphor)

2) Wikiality – Wikipedia – written by people – people tell the truth – Wikipedia tells the truth – Wikiality is reality (which brings us to the metaphor)

3) Wikiality – Wikipedia – written by people – people sometimes lie, sometimes tell the truth – Wikipedia sometimes lies, sometimes tells the truth – Wikiality is sometimes reality (still a metaphor)

As you can see, the change occurs when we think about what the relationship between people and reality is. And this in itself is subject to our personal conceptions. The man in the aluminum-foil hat is not going to believe  you if you say that the UFOs are not out to get him. We like things to mean what we think they mean:  especially when it comes to what we perceive as real.

One thing I would like to point out is just how careful we must be with language. I think most people realize that words can and do hurt, and so most of the time people try to soften or harden what they say in order to fit the model of how they conceive themselves. This can be a good or a bad thing. Then there are the cases like Freudian slips — things that supposedly reveal something about our repressions. Granted, the approach to uncovering meaning has to be within specific context, or the meaning is meaningless. Beyond that there is simple stupidity. On one episode of The Office, Michael is doing series of lectures and reveals that he memorizes names by associating physical characteristics in a very metonymic manner. Unfortunately, he manages to offend pretty much everyone in typical Michael Scott fashion. So I suppose the lesson is don’t be a moron, and if you are, then mean well.


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