Obituary for Eliseo Verón

La Asociación Argentina de Semiótica comunica con pesar el fallecimiento de Eliseo Verón (1935 – 2014), socio fundador y primer presidente de esta asociación. Perdemos un referente, un maestro, un brazo clave para sostener la antorcha del conocimiento semiótico, pero quedan los múltiples equipos de investigación que utilizan sus enfoque y herramientas para seguir indagando sobre la producción de sentido social.

Obituary of the Venezuelan Semiotics Association:

Verón Nota de duelo

CFP: METAMIND’2014 The Order in Destruction and the Chaos of Order. Freedom.



Riga, September 25 – 28, 2014. National Library of Latvia/

Campenhausen’s Manor house/Gut Orellen/

Researchers from European countries and abroad are kindly invited to take part in the 2014 international research conference METAMIND’2014 The Order in Destruction and the Chaos of Order. Freedom. The international research arts project MetaMind highlights innovative interdisciplinary approaches to the theoretical, artistic, and social aspects of Western culture. Interplays of science, art, and other forms of human creativity figure prominently in this venture. The conference is organized by Foundation MetaMind, in cooperation with several Latvian institutions of higher education. It will take place September 25 – 28, 2014 in the brand new building of the National Library of Latvia and in Campenhausen’s Manor house. This is already the fifth conference of the project, and this year it will be part of the events scheduled in Riga as 2014 European Capital of Culture.

The official languages of the conference are English, French, German, Spanish and Latvian, and simultaneous translation will be provided. The proceedings of the conference will be published in English in an edited volume.



In the centenary of World War I, which both ruined Europe and let it revive, as well as made the birth of Latvia possible, MetaMind is dedicated to the handicap of chaos and the potential of order destruction, with special attention to the pre-programmed and pre-constructed nature of changes, destruction, and chaos in the space of European thought and being. The processes concerning order and disorder as well as the axiological potential of both constellations deserve equal attention.  The theoretical topicality of the theme is underpinned by the fact that our key value freedom with all its countless faces also resides in the destructiveness hidden in order and in the orderliness of chaos.


The  Order in Destruction and the Chaos of Order

Order and chaos are not phenomena that have existed in the world from the very beginning. Since the time of Ancient Greece, they have served as two thought constructions referring to the world and the states of its existence. Chaos is the prime matter of the world, its original potential and infinite, dark world abyss – open primordial space, depth first of all. Cosmos as a natural philosophical concept was contrasted with chaos, implying decoration, arrangement, and splendor – surface first of all.

A similar configuration can be found in the Biblical tradition, where chaos as darkness and spatial indefiniteness imply a potential for orderliness. However, when orderliness emerges, chaos does not cease to exist.

Over the years, both chaos and order have been constitutive concepts not only for the understanding of the universe, but also for each of its elements and processes. Actually, the history of Western thought conserves them as opposite, mutually exclusive states. However, already in the myths of ancient cosmogonies they determined each other as elements of one construction. Thus, transition from one state to the other as well as the necessity for the alteration of these states is programmed into them.  Chaos is a “spin-off” created by culture and married to order – it can be viewed as the process of “unfolding” order, just as insanity is a kind of sanity or silence is a form of sound. To put it simply, chaos is a different kind of order.

Primary thought concerning chaos and order prestructures their later use in the national strategies of different complexity, where order starts with arrangement. Arrangement in its ontic sense results from deliberate relational structuring of objects and events.  All schemes of rationality require transparency and succession. Arrangement, first and foremost, means to begin from something, to turn to the beginning, to some source; it acquires the modalities of the beginning of some particular world and temporality. The source becomes the guarantor of order although it is just one type of order. It is supplemented by the principle of logos, which is articulated as naming in its more modern version. The model version of naming as the origin of order was given by Genesis in the Old Testament. The performative utterance of the creator, “let there be…”, resulted in the production of real phenomena, where a-spatial chaos transformed into ordered spatial division. The demand for harmony coming from Pythagoreanism insists on clothing order in a mathematical outfit, and the latter has to refer to the universe as a whole.

The reduction of musical intervals to the mathematical ratio, which has been attributed  to Pythagoras, an apparently non-existent authority but the one confirming the legitimacy of the idea, had a most consequential impact both on Greek philosophy and the development of Western culture.   The number (arithmos) has become the constitutive principle of all things.  All the phenomena that are used in accordance with the numerical principle create a new atemporal reality. Within the context of the conference, World War I has to be mentioned, which started the period of the potential  war reality.

Chaos has been played anew in modern scientific, poetic, and artistic languages. On the one hand, these are negative forms rejecting the old; on the other hand, the old fills the new with content and makes it meaningful. The given contradiction goes through two phases: 1) the destruction of the old for the sake of the new order, 2) the destruction of the new order due to its excessive orderliness. The role of rubble in the deliberate creation of meaning as the orderability of significance was understood by such antagonists as the surrealists and classical Marxism. Frequently, the aim of rubble practice in the 20th century was to verify the legitimacy of existing knowledge.

However, the features of order and chaos can be traced not only in modern languages, but also in the disciplines of scientific and technological thought, which have often been constructed as a modelling of the deviations from the norm, as a certain anti-world.  One may think here of medicine, forensic science, law, some political theories, and military practices. In the training of medical professionals, the point of departure is not the healthy body and spirit, but various potential functional disorders – unhealthiness and sickliness. The designation of deviations is also symptomatic – “something is out of order”, i.e., out of the right system.

For instance, the treatment of mental disorders demonstrates the breakout of chaos, whereasin its ancient mythological understanding it is the deepest layer, to the surface – the surface of mental clarity. Thus, the reconstruction of consciousness is possible on the rubble of subconsciousness.

Legal orders, on the other hand, provide for all the possible deviations from the norm and all the aggravating and mitigating circumstances of the offence.  In the practice of legal languages, which envisage the order through which punishment is imposed on the offender of social order, the point of departure for all the arrangement is the provision for all the possible transgressions of law which have to be applied according to the algorithm: if…, then… .

Political destruction as a new condition for the world order was once demonstrated in the practice of the Great French Revolution, while Karl Marx, formative thinker of revolutionary catastrophism, presumes the dominance of two dual impulses – order and disorder.  Order, which manifests itself in the form of a socio-economic formation, is always determined by pre-occuring revolutionary chaos, whereas any new order that is built on the rubble of the previous one immanently presupposes self-negation and self-destruction, which will result in a new revolution.

Interestingly, the modelling of these transitions perfectly corresponds to the understanding of chaos in Ancient Greece – as an empty, obscure abyss between spaces. Thus, world order refers to the arrangement of two distinct separate orders.

The division of chaos and order is everything but clear and unambiguous.

Due to various adopted prejudices or ethical considerations, we live with a complex of untouchable themes, untouched so far or cut out of the cultural historical context, concerning both older and more recent history of Europe. In the recent past, phenomena can be found where rationality beyond the control of reason has reached its utmost, sometimes even perverse limits. This could be seen in different models of social cleansing elaborated by various totalitarian regimes.

Finally, another difficulty arises which prevents the thematization of chaos and order: namely, the word chaos travels from one language to another with little or no  translation, whereas order or cosmos – just partly so, since there also exist its Latin form and translations. As a result, the notion of order turns diffuse. Cosmos or order modifies into various other forms, which, for instance, can be seen in the rich variety of forms this word has in the Latvian language: kārtot, sakārtot, piekārtot, pārkārtot, uzkārtot, aizkārtot, nokārtot, iekārtot, izkārtot, sakārtot.


In view of the preceding considerations, we invite you to consider the overall theme of MetaMind’2014 when planning your contribution focusing on the following topics:

  1. Mathematical and musical rationality.
  2. Versions of linguistic ordering.
  3. The ordering of knowledge.
  4. Modelling of disorder or catastrophes as

strategies for mainteining thoughts of order.

  1. Tabooised orders of chaos.
  2. New artistic normativities.
  3. Different kinds of order.


Submission of Abstracts

The length of the presentations will be 20-25 minutes, plus 5-10 minutes for questions and discussion. Presenters are requested to submit an abstract (about 300 words) and the Application Form by May 30, 2014 and send it by e-mail:

Early submission of abstracts is highly recommended. An Acknowledgment of receipt of your abstract will be sent to you within two weeks from the date of receiving your submission. Electronic letters of acceptance will be sent to the selected participants by June 30, 2014.



Special events

The MetaMind conference will consist of presentations accompanied by a series of special events, which will illuminate and enrich the conference. On September 28, we intend to go on an excursion to the cosy Latvian town Cēsis and the most enchanting town Sigulda.


Registration and fees

The registration fee is 130 Euros, payable by July 30, 2014. The late registration fee is 170 Euros. The registration fees include admission to all open sessions of the conference, coffee breaks, the conference dinner, a copy of the proceedings, and an excursion. Payment should be made by bank transfer to the Foundation MetaMind, Baznicas iela 45-14, Riga, LV-1010, registration number 40008165345, Swedbank, Swift: HABALV22, IBAN account number LV07HABA0551029288459, Participation fee MetaMind’2014.


We would like to take this opportunity to cordially invite you to take part in the conference with a presentation. We anticipate that the MetaMind project and conference will count among the most important scientific events in Latvia in 2014, and we hope that you will choose to be part of this unique endeavor.

Should you require any further information about the above event, please do not hesitate to contact us.


We look forward to welcoming you in Riga.


On behalf of the MetaMind Team

Prof. Daina Teters


New Book: Korean Translation “La Semiotique des Passions”

Korean Translation of Jaques  Fontanille and Algirdas Julien Greimas “La Semiotique des Passions (Semiotics of Passion)” by professor Ki Hwan YU, Yong Ho CHOI, Junga SHIN, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Seoul, Korea. 


New Book: Korean translation of Lotman’s Culture and Explosion



Korean Translation of Ju. Lotman’s “Kul’tura i vzryv (Culture and Explosion)” by professor Soo-Hwan Kim, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Seoul, Korea. 


New Book: Viator in Tabula – Sémiotique de l’interculturel culinaire dans le récit de voyage



The project of this book goes back to approximately 10 years. I came then to collaborate with Beatrice Fink to a special issue of Eighteenth Century Life on the food topography. I proposed then a study that figures in the present volume under a more developed form, on the reactions of an English physician towards local food, mainly couscous and tea. I did not think that it was a real research avenue, but rather a sort of intellectual entertainment with no horizon. At the same time, Beatrice Fink encouraged me to conduct research in this area, but I remained skeptical. After having read her works on the culinary domain in the XVIII century, I have realized how much a history of food and the culinary could serve the history of mentalities and private lives. Works of John Louis Flandrin, that had contributed to the same volume directed by Fink, were also a great inspiration. Paradoxically, the more I read the more my interest grew. My quest was not simple, it did not concern fixing on a mediocre culinary phenomenon to study it as revealing a political economy or a symbolic field with its rules, its constraints and its codes. I am concerned with the study of the relation with the other, the shock of cultures or their encounter through reactions of travelers to the food or the culinary, the prepared dish, the consumed product in ceremony or in private. Some of the questions I asked are: In which way does the reaction to food reveal the attitude of the traveler, his prejudices on the culture or the society or the food or the dish in question? In which way would it reveal its own culture? I asked these questions and many others keeping aware of another difficulty. Texts on which I work belong to travel literature that is a hybrid genre, at least until the XVIII century, because it constantly oscillated between two poetical forms: the testimony and the fiction. Testimony, because precise descriptions, inventories of dishes, customs were merely depicting reality; fiction, because the traveler doubled by the narrator invents a narrative framework or a narrative structure in order to account for the trip without transforming it into a fateful description or an inventory. This made me more careful in my analyses and especially in my conclusions. I invite the reader to do the same. Indeed, the reaction towards the culinary can reflect an attitude, but we should keep in mind that it concerns an attitude inside a narrative framework and a game implying several characters.

With these growing difficulties, I knew that the culinary has been an important concern in semiotics. But long before, it was especially the concern of anthropology, ethnology and sociology. Claude Levi-Strauss, Mary Douglas and others have done important contributions. Semioticians in their turn  got interested in , though only sporadically , what one can call culinary semiotics, I allude here to articles of Roland Barthes in Mythologies, to escapades of Greimas for example concerning the pistou soup  and to others contributions thereafter and others more recent. These contributions have not however set a method of analysis or a susceptible interface to be used for the corpus. It was necessary then to reflect on a strictly semiotic approach to the culinary making the most possible profit from the ideas of semioticians and anthropologists.  All these contributions deserve to be questioned in view of a synthesis. I deem it useful to reserve them a whole chapter.

But before this, here is a word on the studies that constitute the present volume. The study on tea or couscous has been published under a less developed form in a special issue of Eighteenth Century Life directed by Béatrice Fink in 1999 and it revolved around the question of food topography. I was surprised from the first reading of the relationship of this English physician by the recurrence of the same verbs and the same adjectives where Moroccan meals were assimilated to an intense physical activity, not to say to an act of a rare violence. The analysis thereafter of descriptions of the meal, ceremonies of tea or preparations of couscous in the Harem has shown a sort of phantasmagoria of bodies that reminds, in many respects, motives and codes of erotic literature. With this first study, the attitude towards the culinary was found to be closely linked to the question of the body of the other: nervous body, agitated versus fattened bodies and prepared to multiples phantasms of the master.

The study on coffee as cultural mediator has been published in a special issue of The French periodical in 2001 directed by Dominique Lanni on the culture of travelers during the classic age. The relationship of the trip of the first expedition to Arabia of the Company of Indies in the beginning of the XVIII

century is the opportunity to put one in front of the other,  two radically opposite worlds and practically ignoring all of each other. Coffee is here a real actor by itself. From the description of this product, ways of preparing it and its history, one discovers a civilization and a culture with these relaxation and conviviality places. Here a product as coffee becomes the symbol of a culture and a society previously judged as a place of fanaticism and intolerance. The other studies are original, they all try, in one way or another, to analyze food as a sign inside a framework where two cultures, two encyclopedias engage in a game of mirrors, evasions and caprices. I have tried to begin with crusades and pilgrim accounts, through accounts of the first merchants, captives and missionaries that mark, as we will see later, a light change in the culinary semiosis of the other and a reorganization of the library at work in the processing of this culinary. Texts of the classic age are going to sketch a singular approach that is going to be ratified by those of the age of enlightenment, but not without surprise. Stories of the nineteenth century, belonging all to French travelers, present an approach to the culinary singular by its re-elaboration of the culinary sign and by its ideological work, which inevitably shows the importance of risks of the hospitality offered by the other, of the food that it presents and reveals, through the attitude of host travelers, their intention and what they think of the Moroccan in general and Morocco in particular.

Semiotica della musica – Lezione-conferenza con Eero Tarasti


Conference: Applying Peirce 2 (Tallinn and Helsinki, 21-23 April)

We are happy to announce that the second “Applying Peirce” conference will take place at Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia (21 April) and the University of Helsinki, Finland (22-23 April). This second edition brings together scholars and researchers to explore and discuss Charles S. Peirce’s thought and applications in diverse fields.

The year 2014 marks the centenary of Charles S. Peirce’s death. Research in Peirce’s thought has grown both within and outside the arena of philosophy on the global level. Peirce’s pioneering contributions to philosophy, pragmatism, logic, the theory of signs, philosophy of science and to numerous other fields are currently being explored not only in philosophy but also in other sciences and in art studies.

The detailed program as well as practical and contact information are available on the website of the conference at:


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