Friday, November 13, 2009

At home in the land of the queer...

Returning to yesterday's discussion in class-- We were saying that since the words "male" and "female" describe a state of being that is at once self-contradictory, perhaps definitions themselves are something fluid. This of course brings up a great paradox-- Can a definition be fluid? Isn't the point of defining something with a word to endow it a constant, distinguishable quality that will illicit a universally "signified" image?

These are a few very strange images that are not only haunting if stared at for too long, but also put one at a loss for words. My question to you is, do we use existing words to describe these new images, as in "lion with a full head of human hair and a strangely human expression" or "face comprised entirely of mouths" OR is it best to develop entirely new words and categories for these images because they are unable to be placed in any existing category of meaning. Developing a "third" word might be the best way to understand this type of absurdity. The face made of mouths could be a Fouth. The human looking lion could be a Hulion. Or a Liman. And then of course there could be Chickarettes. So what do you all think? Are there some things that are just too strange, that in order to even comprehend require a third word from the realm of the "queer?"


  1. Sidenote: The unicorn image is self-contradictory because in my opinion it is impossible to lose something that never existed. It brings up the concept of looking for something that can never be found. Perhaps we could describe this kind of object as "Implossible"-- at once impossible and impossible to lose.

  2. It all goes back to the Pharmakon yet again in that maybe how we define "definition" can change just as the things it define can, even though this seems paradoxical. I do believe that definitions can be fluid over time; I might define something one way one day, and then and there that definition to me is constant, true, encompassing - what we conceive of definitions. Who's to say, however, that something won't happen the next day that will lead me to a new definition that I hold just as firmly then as I did the former one the day before? In this way definitions are largely subjective in my view. Thank the Lord, or we'd still think the world is flat and bleeding oneself's nearly to death is an effective method for disease eradication.

  3. Two thoughts:

    1) We should, once again, consider power here. Arguably, the ability to fix the definition of something resides in that person--or group of people--who hold power over the thing that needs to be defined.

    2) Re alice's comment: How can it be impossible to lose something that never existed? Think peace. It has never existed; yet, we're constantly bemoaning the loss of peace and are therefore always working toward peace. Literally, at the intersection of 22nd and Constitution Streets (NW), we are constructing an institute for peace, even though the thing that would inhabit it--peace--is never within reach.