The real, in a Lacanian sense, is bigger than the sum total of human knowledge, if only by mass; we can at least know that what we don’t yet know is bigger than what we know, if only because we can see so many places, out in space, that we haven’t yet been able to visit. But language–human reality–gets the upper hand and becomes the predator, the master and quantifier of even the unknown, through that one little word, articulated whenever necessary: ‘yet’. Even if there is an infinitude that we don’t know, even that infinitude only ever gets smaller, since what we know generally only ever gets bigger.
The sign is arbitrary because language, though arising from nature, is not demanded by nature.
A footnote and accompanying media cut from the following, which is, itself, part of an upcoming piece on the Marvel Omniverse:
…if superhero film narratives are inspired by superhero comic narratives, the whole #itsallconnected ethos only adds the complication of replacing ageing human actors to the problematics of multiversal/time-travelling/title-hopping/otherwise-conveniently-present characters interacting with themselves, others, themselves-as-others, and others-as-themselves.
 A little tangentially: I still don’t get how Logan St. Claire is supposed to be a version of Quinn Mallory. Gender-swap, fine, but why would they have different last names if they’re ‘genetically identical’??? WTF???
Here’s something fun. You can actually do it if you want, but I think reading it’s probably just as effective for getting the idea across:
On a sheet of paper, with a pencil, write anything you want–something short, to keep this manageable; maybe something about how awesome your day’s going to be. Then, just to double down, write it all over again, just the same.
Now, erase the first version. Put the paper aside and go to your computer or phone. In some text field somewhere, type another message to yourself: maybe it’s different, though the possibilities for questioning seem exponentially increased if it’s the same as the message you originally wrote. At any rate, make sure you do it at the very beginning of the text field.
Whatever you’ve chosen to type out, skip a few lines and do it again. Don’t copy and paste, either; go through the motions again, pay attention to the fact that you’re doing what you’re doing.
Now, of course, erase the first version and all the spaces before the second. There should only be one version of the statement on your screen, at the very beginning of the text field.
So, now, what’s on your screen? Is it the ‘Second’ version of the message? If so, why? What, at this point, distinguishes what’s there now from what was there when you typed the message originally? You can clearly see that the two versions of the message you wrote are still two versions, despite the fact that one was ‘erased’ (its space, its impression maintained). And, if you typed the same message that you wrote, how many versions of that message exist now? Is it some different number than once existed? Does the difference matter?
Barthes, from ‘An Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narrative’:
‘…formalization is a generalization that differs from other generalizations.’
- The word is not the thing. (Actually, Korzybski’s version here.)
- The word ‘thing’ is not the thing.
- The word ‘thing’ is not other words.
- ‘Thing’, as a general(izing/izable) word, holds a different function in linguistic structuration than other words.
Another attempt to summarize my perspective that will only seem inaccurate later:
At this point, it’s seeming as though the only notable difference between narrative and linguistic subjects (fictional characters and real people) is one of physicality in this linguistic, physical realm (lacanian ‘reality’): we linguistic subjects have bodies, narrative subjects don’t and may or may not ever. But, in discourse–communication via representations that pretty much constitutes all media by definition–physicality is what’s precisely not needed, worked around, obviated. So, the distinction between the subject who has a body and the one who doesn’t, at least in how they’re treated, how their identities are socially understood, how they are defined in discourse, doesn’t amount to much.
Especially since we’re also getting around the lack of fictional bodies by making our fictions more realistically interactive in various ways, such as gaming, VR cinema, and even ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ YouTube series.
‘Doors and mirrors, computers and gramophones, electricity and newspapers, television and telescopes, archives and automobiles, water and air, information and noise, numbers and calendars, images, writing, and voice–all these highly disparate objects and phenomena fall into media studies’ purview.’
-Eva Horn, “There Are No Media”, Grey Room #29