U. ECO-tour of semiotic DEtourism { 5terre | Pisa | [H|R]ome } & texTOURes { [de]signs | ITAL[ic]s } & the ABCs of killing X-tians

0: these graphemes come to liGHt builDing $tring$ of word$ tHemselves graphemes & these [$tRung-toGæther] word$ $t[r]and in as $ymbol$ ± SIGNs that rëFlect my th(0, 0)ughts or imPreSSions upon reading The Limits of InterpretationLimits of Interpretation by Umberto Eco whilST BEing a [de]tourist [or U. ECO-tourist] in my own backyard now [this] is nØt the 1st time i've siMultaneously bLogged aBout lanGuage & «tourism»—yoU could almost say it's my shTick [שטיק] only this time i'm thINKing more GENErally aBout semiotics inStead of just lanGuage | The Limits of Interpretation is a collection of essays Eco wrote at varIOUs angles on semiotics & textual interpretation—touching on: { lingual drift | serials | translations | animals | forgeries | code | semantics | humor | presuppositions | truth } & reeling in eXamples aLong the way by the likes of: { Joyce | Pirandello | Borges | Pliny | Aristotle | Derrida | et al } | perhaps the book got a bit academic at times but herein lies collaged highlight-bytes gleaned from within its pages [interspearsed with sumwhat randome images taken in Rome & elsewhere in italy] ||

collossal SEO

[note left arRow points to nYc subWay]

from the introduction of The Limits of Interpretation: «As a consequence no text can be interpreted according to the utopia of a definite, original, and final authorized meaning. Language always says more than its unattainable literal meaning, which is lost from the very beginning of the textual utterance [...] If there is something to be interpreted, the interpretation must speak of something which must be found somewhere, and in some way respected.»


self-portrait in Evasione [nearby Trastevere [hereby known as Travestyere]]


text pie

textual plug


museum inscription

text in museum [Capitolini]


brazilian monk ey

inscription from nearby church where bad-ass Brazilian monks [Heralds] in their brown tunics & biker boots & chains preside

1: from the Two Models of Interpretation chapter: «We look for the symbolic mode, not at the level of rhetorical figures, but at the level of a more macroscopic textual strategy, when a text displays a sort of uncanny liberality, of otherwise inexplicable descriptive generosity. [...] This is the reason for which medieval civilization, extrapolating from the Hellenistic Phisiologus or Pliny's Naturalis Historia, elaborated its own encyclopedic repertoires, bestiaries, herbaries, lapidaries, imagines mundi, in order to assign a symbolic meaning to every piece of the furniture of the "real" world.» ||

Romulus Remus

the original Romulus & Remus [in Musei Capitolini]


baby throttling snake

naked boy throttling a snake


catacomb ins crypt ion

cracked TEXTure


caracol piney bark

pine bark at terme de caracalla

2: from Unlimited Semiosis and Drift: «Thus it seems that the whole Peircean theory of unlimited semiosis supports the position of Derrida by which [quoting Derrida] "if reading must not be content with doubling the text, it cannot legitimately transgress the text toward something, other than it, toward a referential reality that is metaphysical, historical, psychobiographical, etc.) or toward a signified object outside the text whose content could take place, could have taken place, outside language ... there is nothing outside the text (il n'y a pas de hors-texte)." [...] We can say that a text can be interpreted independently of the intention of its utterer, but we cannot deny that any text is uttered by somebody according to his/her actual intention, and this original intention was motivated by a Dynamic Object (or was itself the Dynamic Object).» ||

old bible

bible in the secret back chambers of Santa Maria della Concezione
[that the sketchy guy who let us back there told us was 1000 years old]


Keats doc

letter to Fanny at the Keats house


quattro coronatti

ancient graffiti i forget where maybe catacombs


roma graphiti

modern graffiti


yellow bird

graffitied bird [5terre]


roma travest-ere

inScriptions [Santa Maria in Travestyere]

3: from The State of the Art: «It must also be stressed that such an addressee-oriented approach concerns not only literary and artistic texts but also every sort of semiosic phenomenon, including everyday linguistic utterances, visual signals, and so on.»

aroma corner

corner in a corner [near Campo d'Fiori]


sta maria in trastevere

candled apse


joise sign

shady road [de]signs


running bride

bride running late up Capitoline steps [St. Peter's in the distance]


santo stefano rotondo

wedding in Santo Stefano Rotondo

4: from Small Worlds: «From its very beginning, the notion of possible world as dealt with by Model Theory is a metaphor coming from literature (in the sense that every world dreamed of, or resulting from a counterfactual, is a fictional world). A possible world is what a complete novel describes.» ||

Appia Mausoleum

REMnants of Mausoleo di Cecilia Metella


grape cluster

clustered grapes [5terre]


appia cobbles

cobbles on Appia Antica [see also HEXed atomization]


foro tops

forum façades


4 corronatti columns

inner Romanesque cloister at Quattro Coronati [ring bell so nun can let you in]


catacomb bones

after visiting a few catacombs & not seeing bones i started sticking my camera in cubby holes & captured this [below Basilica San Nicola in Carcere]

5: from Interpreting Serials: «Art (and by art I mean also literature, poetry, movies, and so on) corresponded rather to a "scientific revolution": every work of modern art figures out a new law, imposes a new paradigm, a new way of looking at the world. Modern aesthetics frequently forget that the classical theory of art, from ancient Greece to the Middle Ages, was not so eager to stress a distinction between arts and crafts.» ||

christ feet

crucified feet [San Sebastiano catacomb/church]


church floor fragment

floor of Quattro Coronati


pink dress spanish steps

dress in storefront of via dei Condotti


Venus exposed cappotoline

Capitoline Venus

6: from Interpreting Animals: «Animals in the Middle Ages "said" many things, but mostly without knowing it. In the Bestiaries they show up as living signs of something else. Characters of a book scriptus dignito dei, they did not produce a language but were themselves "words" of a symbolic lexicon.» ||


feisty Roman gatto guarding statues


sturgeon text

fishy inscription

Umberto Eco goes beyond words in analyzing texts | for example he uses matrices to analyze the logistical semantics of certain statements:

Umberto Eco Limits

or in the chapter where he analyzes Finnegans Wake at great length he employs an association schema to make sense of MEANDERTALE:

James Joyce Semiotics

later on in this chapter Eco says [regarding Joyce]: «One of the most probable sources for the invention of the stream of consciousness was James argument according to which reality has a myriad of forms, experience is never limited and is never complete: it is like a kind of huge spiderweb of the finest silken threads suspended in the chamber of consciousness and catching every particle in its tissue.»

7: in regards to humor [in the chapter on Pirandello Ridens]: «Humor, which—felix culpa—is not taken to be Art cum- and post-Pirandello, breaks the rules; it looks at things in an unexpected way, lifting the mask of Logic and Types, and revealing beneath the mask the contradictions and multiplicity of life. If for Coleridge Art implied a "suspension of disbelief," we could say that, for Pirandello, Humor—which is for him all the new and true art in general—implies the "suspension of the suspension of disbelief." Humor, then, eliminates the trust brought about by the suspension of disbelief and introduces a new doubt: Art is a continuous exercise in "disbelief"; it puts into question all existing codes, and therefore Life and the World; it says to us, "Look, the Emperor has no clothes.»

vulgar christ

a Slavic winged Jesus? [in the Bulgarian church Santi Vincenzo e Anastasio a Trevi]


Capuchin Monk

Capuchin monk kid & other Capuchin bones [Capuchin crypt]


death by stabbing neck

death by stabbing in the neck [Santo Stefano Rotondo][see #14 below for explanation]

8: from Fakes and Forgeries: «Something is not a fake because of its internal properties, but by virtue of a claim of identity

on this note i've been wondering lately why artists bother to claim authorship at all | from here on out any books i write will only be authored by the books themselves ||

Marcus Aurelius bronze horse

the REAL equestrian Marcus Aurelius [in the Capitolini Musei—the one outside is a fake]


dead capuchin monks

Capuchin skulls as tokens—the craft of bone-sculpture
[& in regards to the word—the cappuccino drink & new world capuchin monkeys are both copied from
[the color] of Capuchin monk robes]


5terre pine

crystal stings of pineal lobes [5terre]


death by tongue cutting

severing tongues & hands [tools of semiotic communication]


deo virgin

Santa Maria in Via [as ScENE from inSide Galleria Alberto Sordi]

9: from Semantics, Pragmatics, and Text Semiotics: «Once Jakobson remarked that to study language only from a syntactic standpoint is the same as defining a sleeping car as "the one that usually (and distributionally) stands between two passenger cars." I would like to add that to study language only from a semantic standpoint means for many authors to define a sleeping car as a railway vehicle where people can have a bunk.»

switch box

railway callbox [5terre]


5terre corniglia

INV. night view from the roof of our hotel in Corniglia [5terre]


baptismal font

perhaps why FONT has it's origins in the baptismal font


Rome scratchiti

abstract scratchitti

in the Semantics, Pragmatics, and Text Semiotics & Presuppositions sections Eco gets a tad bit technical & it gets quite tedious to follow after a while [especially when there was more interesting things to see out the window of the train] | here's an example of the type of language Eco uses to analyze language:

eco interpretation

my head was spinning in the looping self-referential absurdity of having difficulty understanding text about textual understanding! | from all this what's gleaned [about presuppositions] is that: «... definite descriptions and proper names have the function of providing A with elements necessary for identification of a given object. This identification process is distinct from the presupposition of existence, which depends on pragmatic phenomena of cooperation. [...] It is possible to hypothesize that for every text there is a system which organizes the possible inferences of that text, and this system can be represented in an encyclopedic format. In this sense the text is a kind of idiolectical mechanism establishing encyclopedic correlations which are consistent only in that specific text. These cases have been defined (Eco 1976) as overcoding: the text constructs a particular semantic description representing the textually possible world, with its own individuals and properties.»

10: in the last chapter [On Truth: A Fiction] Eco practices what he preaches by presenting us with a fiction he wrote to demonstrate some of his ideas but i'm afraid for me his critical analysis works better than this fiction though some interesting [yet expository & in the context somewhat forced] statements are revealed by his characters such as: «I have some difficulties in understanding the meaning of meaning. I have so much information on this matter that I start looping.»

quattro coronotti column

arched shadows [Quattro Coronati]


vis a vis

along via Corso


clement inscription

that's all i have to say about Umberto Eco's The Limits of InterpretationEco rather it speaks for itself as i repUrpoSE his IDeas to interPret other txts or visual cues in the world around me in these text0ured n00ks & crannies channeling the noise thrU the use & abuse of signs | we relate to the world through these signs & further communicate what we learn through re#ASHEDed signs | it's a fine line between writing & interpretation—between reading & being read | vague ambivalence leads to greater freedom & less constraint [for the reader] | certainty [«in writing» or «in stone»] leads to more constraint & less free-association ||

11: deTOURISM: we've had quite a string of visitors this past month & more to come so all these local tourist attractions have been seen [by the êYê of this rëAdder] & rescene over & over & with each pass new meaning is gleaned even it becomes observations of ourselves observing | to quote DFW [with a nod to THEMZINI]:

As I see it, it probably really is good for the soul to be a tourist, even if it’s only once in a while. Not good for the soul in a refreshing or enlivening way, though, but rather in a grim, steely-eyed, let’s-look-honestly-at-the-facts-and-find-some-way-to-deal-with-them way. My personal experience has not been that traveling around the country is broadening or relaxing, or that radical changes in place and context have a salutary effect, but rather that intranational tourism is radically constricting, and humbling in the hardest way—hostile to my fantasy of being a real individual, of living somehow outside and above it all.

To be a mass tourist, for me, is to become a pure late-date American: alien, ignorant, greedy for something you cannot ever have, disappointed in a way you can never admit. It is to spoil, by way of sheer ontology, the very unspoiledness you are there to experience. It is to impose yourself on places that in all noneconomic ways would be better, realer, without you. It is, in lines and gridlock and transaction after transaction, to confront a dimension of yourself that is as inescapable as it is painful: As a tourist, you become economically significant but existentially loathsome, an insect on a dead thing.


Trevi font

warped self-referential P.O.V. of Trevi fountain [not flowing as it was being cleaned of money]

12: nevertheless to not travel is to stagnate & defeats the purpose of being here on this planet at all | it's the vicious cycle of to see or not to see & by seeing creating the ruin you are in turn witnessing | & then there's showing others what you've seen—to not feel alone—to share the experience | in this capacity we revisited Cinque Terre amongst other places | the last time we were in 5terre it wasn't so bad & we thought since summer was over maybe it wouldn't be so bad but the hordes of tourists [mostly geriatric Germans in jabbering groups] were unbearable | but at least this time we could swim in the water ||

sunset over corniglia

pier down by the waterfront in Corniglia [2 of 5terre]


donkey timber

(j, i) climbing high up on the skyline in the early morning to get away from the throngs
[at the risk of faling timber]


net boo

5terre text0ur #1


5terre fishnet

fishnets drying in Corniglia


5terre texture

5terre text0ur #2


corniglia palm church

palm & church in Corniglia


5terre ght

5terre text0ur #3 [with ocean view]


rusted barcode agip

5terre text0ur #4


vine scrum

5terre text0ur #5


5terre grid

5terre text0ur #6


5terre hex roof

5terre text0ur #7



harbor at Riomaggiore


5terre trail



sunset over 5terre

sunset over an unusually turbulent [surfers even] Mediterranean

13: we even went to Pisa & ironically all my photos from that day mysteriously vanished | even more serendipitous in that on the train there i challenged our travel companions to SEE the leaning tower & NOT take a photo—to resist the clichéd pull of the perhaps most-photographed icon in the world [or at least the most over-captured gesture of posers trying to hold it up] | of course when we got there [actually our plans to go to Luca were derailed by canceled trains—why we ended up in Pisa] i [sardonically] went overboard taking & posing for photos—163 to be exact [based on the IMG#### enumeration scheme] which mysteriously disappeared from my camera [shown above in #11] or during the process of transferring the photos to my computer | fitting yes as most of the photos were of other tourists posing in front [out of context] of the tower—though there is some other interesting things to see in Pisa like the Duomo right next to it & i think there was some interesting textual inscriptions i had tried to capture &there's a certain angle of the tower where you can't tell it's leaning [regardless of the fact that it is leaning—the tower itself is something to behold] | also lost were attempts [upon our return to 5terre] to capture the green flash which i'm still skeptical about until i see it for myself & even then i suspect it has to do more with internal sensory processing ||

of course this is not to say j simultaneously lost all her photos from her camera...

pisa hypocrisy

submitting to the tyrannical hypocrisy of the most photographed gesture in the world

at least i wasn't as vain as the dumb-ass American who laid down on the grass & positioned the tower to lean like it was an erect extension of his body [& yes the baffi is back] ||

14: & there's been all the deTOURistic touring in our own backyard most of which i find excuses to avoid unless it involves death or decay [catacombs & ruins] | in particular my new favorite church in Rome is Santo Stefano Rotondo [Basilica di Santo Stefano Rotondo al Celio] | there was a wedding going on [the bride & groom & others in the congregation arrived on Harleys] so we weren't able to see it in it's full glory but lining the inside of the round church are a number of murals that as far as i could tell [not understanding latin] give step-by-step instructions [labeled diagrammatically even] on how to kill christians [they are actually scenes of martyrdom] | the murals were faded & the light poor but you can get the idea....

death by stoning

death by stoning


death by buried alive

death by being buried alive


death by boiling

death by being boiled alive


death by cooking alive

more specifically [see boiled alive above] this depicts a more complex recipe for being COOKED alive


death by crucifixion

inverse crucifixion [death ala St Peter]


death by decapitation

note decapitated papal figure at left carrying his own head!


stefano rotondo altar



(©omPostED|tranScribed) 2010 Derek White