Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Message on sign:

[in mirror image]

March 29 - March 30, 2011

Opinions expressed:

- the sign is a work of art

- the sign is an aesthetic, ironic, introspective call to reflect on one's thoughts. Because the letters are written in Husky colors, the thoughts you should reflect on are those learned at the university. Because the letters are written in mirror image, everything you learned at the university you have backwards.

- you should come up to the man standing by the sign and express a thought to him, after which he will give you a counter-argument to what you've said, as if your thoughts are related back to you in reverse.

- wherever you may be, your perception of that place and the experiences you have there will be colored by what your own thoughts about it are

- maybe people walking by will think: "How can that guy know my thoughts well enough for them to be reflected there?"

- one girl took the time to come up and let me know my sign was backwards

The "original" idea:

Language is not "owned" by any one person alone. All speakers of that language change the meanings of the words and other composite elements of that language. It is therefore impossible to compose a phrase which would be completely unambiguous. Whatever meaning I might intend the message on a sign to have, the meaning the perceiver infers will depend on his or her own thoughts about the subject of the sign.

Other signs on the Quad: about 20 signs of the American Cancer Society were up with different messages on each side, e.g. "Parents who smoke can be role models by quitting."; for the first two hours two men handed out flyers and held a sign reading: "Invisible Children Help Silent War Tonight 7:00 Kane 120 TONY [advertising a film about children abducted in West Africa and forced to fight in wars]"; from 1:15-2:00 the Lyndon Larouche people stood by a table with their literature and signs reading: "END BRITISH OCCUPATION DUMP OBAMA" and "IS CALIFORNIA NEXT? [referring to earthquakes]"

For a complete transcript of discussions with people about this sign (or at least as complete as memory would allow), see here, March 29-30.

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