semiotics of ageing May 10

The Semiotics of Ageing in Advertising: Our changing discussion on age

How we think about age is partially constructed by the way that advertising communicates themes, values and behaviour. By looking at some of the metaphors about ageing used in different socio-cultural contexts, this provides a frame for developing a semiotic map of the meaning in age related advertising. It also raises considerations for how society will ‘talk’ about age, in an area of science and medicine that is taking larger strides every year.

culture decanted May 07

Is there a modern mythology of immortality or is it that some stories never die?

Is the modern obsession with immortality new? Looking at immortality though from the perspective of mythology this reveals a lot about how we talk about aging today. The dominant stories that are told in popular culture are all reflections of myths that have lived forever.

White Rabbit Postmodern April 11

Have we become the White Rabbit? The experience of Time in the Postmodern Era

Have we become the White Rabbit in the Postmodern Era? Do we wear the watch or is the watch increasingly wearing us? How is our relationship to time changing at a semiotic level – are we thinking about time through different metaphors?

Vigilante Semiotics January 11

Vigilantism and Justice in modern society: a popular culture analysis

The last few years have not been good ones for law enforcement and the Justice system. There is a growing perception that Justice is not what it once was: there is corruption, the law has been abused, inequality is rising and crime appears to go unpunished. A hypothesis expanded here, is that popular culture is framing the way that many in western cultures perceive the law, the legal profession and our law enforcers. If this is correct, is this inviting some to start to think of acting for justice outside of the law?

Scales of Lady Justice December 13

Is Popular Culture influencing our perception of Justice?

Much of 2014 has been dominated by stories of Justice, Law and Injustice. If popular culture is a reflection of society and culture, what do the changing storylines of law-and-crime suggest about how we feel about Justice? Do these stories influence the way that we see our own societies? This can be illustrated by looking at the structures of some of the more successful film and TV shows.

Hybrid November 18

Some anthropological perspectives on eating: east or west

From an anthropological perspective, food is part of how we identify ourselves and also the cultures we belong to. Food structures our identities, social behaviour and frames our concepts of others. Food is one of the ways we most commonly experience foreign foods. What we don’t eat is as important to what we do in defining who we are. We can look at the similarities and differences between ‘east and western’ cuisines as an illustrative tension of formative cultural identity.

eating yourself - semiotics of food identity October 19

Eating yourself: We consume identity through food?

Food is central to the evolution of man and culture. Eating food performs a base nutritional function; it is its symbolic role in either supporting or differentiating individual, social and cultural identity that is more influential. We consume our identities through our food and drink choices. The changing nature of modern society is resulting to differences in what food communicates and how we use it to develop and express our identities.

food semiotics October 08

The Semiotics of Cutlery: Eating food symbolically off course.

Hunger is a universal physiological drive but we also take great delight in eating. While cuisines and cooking is astonishingly diverse, cutlery has remained remarkably elementary. While we need to eat, food more broadly is used across individual, social and cultural dimensions to build, share and demarcate our identities. How and what meaning cutlery adds to this semiotic conversation is worth degustation. Cut, Stab and Scoop are how we eat, but what meaning is within these gestures?

culture decanted September 21

Why are we taking the super out of the supernatural stories: another postmodern symptom?

Why are we taking the super out of the supernatural stories: just another postmodern symptom? There is a tendency of modern films and TV shows to recycle supernatural stories by finding secular or mundane explanations for their supernatural themes. This trend is driven by the continuing postmodern agenda to find rational explanations for everything and challenge existing meta-narratives in culture. To illustrate this, ten examples of dominant supernatural themes are explored as having secular explanations for their plots.

Culture Decanted September 13

Cradle to Coffin: A Semiotic Model of Life and Death

There is nothing that influences human behavour as strongly as the power of life and death. It is possible to create a semiotic model that conceptualize how we create meaning on the journey from the womb to the grave.

culturedecanted.com September 07

Emerging Metaphors for the Human Body

Emerging Metaphors for the Human Body   Metaphors are the cognitive tools through which we understand ourselves and the world (Lakoff and Turner 1989: xi). One of the primary metaphoric resources is the human body. Probably, since we first became self-aware, we have been fascinated with our bodies: psychologically and culturally. “Man is the measure […]

birdcage August 27

Semiotics of the Birdcage

A semiotic analysis of the birdcage as a cultural status symbol. Why is this symbol used so consistently by luxury and fashion brands? What is the history of the birdcage through to today? What are the psychological drivers that influence the engagement with the birdcage in society today? Since the birdcage is linked with fashion, what does this suggest about women and how they are framed in societal discourse?

Personification of the City August 15

Why are we no longer in love with our Cities?

Why are we no longer in love with our cities? We personify cities, give them human characteristics.

We create our identity from where we live. Are we projecting something, of how we see ourselves, onto our cities?

The psychology of the maze July 31

The Psychology of the Maze as a Modern Symbol

    Why are we still a-maze-d by labyrinths? With a diverse range of permutations, the Maze is a symbol that has been with humanity since the pre-historic era. So pervasive is the labyrinth within human symbolic communication, it is impossible to think of a human era where it was not a deep structural metaphor […]

Semiotics of the Doppelganger July 14

The Semiotics of the Doppelgänger: the Double in Popular Culture

The Semiotics of the Doppelgänger: the Double in Popular Culture   One of the themes from the last blog I wrote on ‘evil’, was the nature of how this is depicted in popular culture from a semiotic perspective. This started out with a Kantian perspective, that evil is something that all of us have the […]

Evil_Eyes July 06

The Semiotics of Evil

What is evil? In the postmodern Western world, evil is something that has become almost robbed of its ability to horrify us. Increased global communication and knowledge inure our responsiveness with a daily news diet of ‘evils’. In entertainment, with many of the anti-heroes of TV being serial killers or sociopaths, we’re becoming increasingly desensitised […]

culture decanted June 21

How are our brains changing in the Modern Era?

Our brains are changing size and we are getting stupider?   It’s enough to give you a brain-ache. Do any search on the human brain today and there is a lot of contradictory information about what we know about it. Some believe it’s getting larger, others that it’s shrinking. We’re getting more intelligent or getting […]

Culture Decanted June 16

ARE ROBOTS TAKING OVER THE WORLD?

ARE ROBOTS TAKING OVER THE WORLD? “Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.”― Mary Shelley, Frankenstein   In my last post, I was exploring why we are scared of the future, a fact that emerged is that there is no one word or phobia to cover ‘fear of […]

Culture Decanted June 13

Opening a Window to the Future [Part 2]

Why are we so negative about the future?: Future Part 2   “The future is like a dead wall or a thick mist hiding all objects from our view’ William Hazlitt, 1822   Cultural Metaphors of the Future One of the manifestations of the authenticity trend in society today is the cherry-picking what parts of […]

taste-of-fear-27482_3 June 11

Why are we so scared of tomorrow? [Part 1]

Why are we so scared of tomorrow?   To paraphrase the British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, ‘humankind has never had it so good’. Well it’s probably more accurate to say that in many ways our collective-cultures have never been so advanced, with the potential of helping so many. So why do we find western culture […]

Are carrots natural? June 07

What is a real carrot?

What is a real carrot? About a week ago, I was speaking to a mum and the topic of shopping in supermarkets came up. It was a wide-ranging conversation and the benefits and concerns she expressed about shopping were similar to what other mums have talked about. In summary, supermarkets are convenient, good value and […]

chimp June 02

What does a beard mean? [ Beards: Part 2]

“We have now for many centuries triumphed over nature to the extent of making certain secondary characteristics of the male (such as the beard) disagreeable to nearly all the females – and there is more in that than you might suppose” C.S. Lewis Hair has a rich depth of symbolism that dates back to the […]

log2 June 01

The Hipster Beard [ Beards: Part 1]

‘Trust the man who hesitates in his speech and is quick and steady in action, but beware of long arguments and long beards’. George Santayana     Beards are very topical at the moment, with the rise in popularity of the Hipster Beard. It’s probably worth attempting to explain what Hipsters are, although they may have […]

alphabet-soup May 29

I see my name in my soup [names: part 4]

  “I should not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else whom I knew as well.” ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden   Is everything about me? From antiquity, there was power of knowing the names of things and naming the world. The way we use names and identity are changing in society, […]

baby May 27

Names that shape us [names: part 3]

People’s fates are simplified by their names. Elias Canetti   The preceding discussion, I was looking at the mythical and historical power in naming things. There is another aspect to this discussion is the power our names have over our actions: consciously and subconsciously. “…(there is) the sometimes quite grotesque coincidence between a man’s name […]

reconhecimento-de-firma May 27

The Signature Resigned [Names: part 2]

Proper names are poetry in the raw. Like all poetry they are untranslatable. W. H. Auden It is easier than ever to have multiple identities online; allowing us to be the virtual persona we might wish we could be. At a time when individualism is a driving force in western society, it’s ironic that so […]

ab May 26

The Power of Naming. [NAMES: PART 1]

The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names.–Chinese Proverb Naming things is a human need. Naming things is how we make sense of the universe. Francis Bacon popularised the saying ‘knowledge is power’ and there is power in naming things.   It’s a common genesis story across a range of different […]

redherring May 24

A RED HERRING [ SEEING RED: PART 4 ]

“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember, […]

Red liquid May 23

BEING IN THE RED [ SEEING RED: PART 3]

“The effect of this colour is as peculiar as its nature. It conveys an impression of gravity and dignity, and at the same time of grace and attractiveness”. -J.W Goethe   An evolutionary perspective alone doesn’t shed light on why we see red used in so many different contexts.  As discussed previously, our attraction to […]

jr May 22

Why does red flag sex? [Seeing Red: Part 2]

Why does red flag sex? Red is also a sensual colour. There have been studies that link the colour red to the perceived attractiveness of partners. When men or women wear red, they appear more attractive to their partners.  While some connotations of red are socio-cultural, we find many shades of red in the animal world, from […]

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