In his Course in General Linguistics, Ferdinand de Saussure differentiates language and speech by explaining language to be social and speech to be individual. (Rivkin 76) That is, language is the means through which communication and convention are established, while speech is the way in which the individual utilizes language as a means of expression of thought. By presenting linguistics as related to semiology, Saussure provides an effectively systematic method with which to view social sciences. He believes language is concrete and linguistic signsare realities that have their seat in the brain (Rivkin 76-77).
To Saussure, language is not something that can be manipulated; it is a given. Yet the paradoxical contrast between a words value and its signification seemingly allows for the opportunity to warp the conceptual relationship between signifier and signified.
Saussure states that this is not an expression of the linguistic fact in its essence and fullness, meaning a words potential value, though necessary to its intrinsic signification, cannot be considered a substitute for the indispensable signification, which exists as a fixed notion. (Rivkin 86) Yet Saussures theory was published post-mortem, and he never had the opportunity to read Thomas Pynchons The Crying of Lot 49. It is Pynchons intention to assert that communication and convention are not social, as a result of individual interpretation. Pynchon conveys this theme by creating a world in which all signs (by means of Saussures characterization) seem to be familiar to the extent that the entire world is foreign. That is, the line between signification and value is so vague that one knows not what Pynchon intends and therefore cannot dissect the story. This parallels Viktor Shklovskys theory of Art as Technique in that Pynchon juxtaposes the familiar and the unfamiliar in his novel.
SYNOPSIS: Human language is a unique communication system which is different from that of other species. It is so complex and perfect that people couldn! t help wondering where it comes from. It is believed that language is part of our essential human nature and is therefore neither invented nor handed down as a gift. All humans are innately or genetically equipped with a unique language learning ...
Language is the means through which the story is communicated, but defamiliarization is Pynchons technique. In this sense, Pynchons method is a combination of Saussures Course in General Linguistics and Shklovskys Art as Technique. The way in which Pynchon manipulates language, specifically seen in the characters names and the illustration of cultural chaos, ultimately results in a form of art that deautomatizes linguistic habitualization. The characters in The Crying of Lot 49 are in every sense familiar to the reader. They are people, living in the United States and dealing with their problems. To this extent, the reader can relate. However, Pynchon perverts this sense of familiarity by strategically naming the characters so as to perplex the reader.
The protagonist, Oedipa Maas, has a first name that reflects Sophocles trilogy. Oedipus the king, like Oedipa Maas, has to solve a riddle. Oedipas last name, Maas, could allude to mass, as in hoi polloi and implying Oedipas larger personage (i.e., Oedipa represents far more than just her individual character).
Pierce Inverarity sounds a lot like peers in variety or piercing variety, perhaps implying his inconsistent or diverse natures. In addition, there are a number of characters whose names seem to imply so much or so little that the reader is led to believe these designation are nothing more than Pynchons own satire at work: Mucho Maas, Mike Fallopian, Randolph Driblette, Clayton Chiclitz, Dr. Hilarious, Stanley Koteks, John Nefastis, and Genghis Cohen.
Through names such as these, with a multitude of possible meanings, Pynchon is combating algebrization, a process Shklovsky mentions in his article. (Rivkin 17) In Art as Technique, Shklovsky explains, The purpose of art is to impart the sensation of things as they are perceived and not as they are known (Rivkin 18).
In this sense, Shklovsky is asserting that in art, as applied to Pynchons art of writing, there is no linguistic signification without value. For, the goal when writing is to mute the line between signifier and signified so as to allow the reader to interpret the information as he or she so chooses. Though Saussure never directly mentions names, it can be assumed that names exist as arbitrary linguistic signs. (Rivkin 79) However, Pynchon has chosen names that are so arbitrary, the reader assumes they represent something logical.
1. Introduction In this paper I will discuss communicative language teaching and its aim: communicative competence. I will also reflect on the aspects of communicative competence, criteria for its assessment and, finally, some ways communicative competence can be developed through classroom interaction. 2. Communicative competence Communicative competence is the ability to use a language properly ...
It is impossible for the reader to look only to the signification and not the value. But by looking at the value, the reader becomes even more confused and disassociated. Therefore, Pynchons technique, linguistic defamiliarization, results in art as Shklovsky defines it. Chaos is a common focus within art. For, artists often attempt to capture the confusion they see every day. Pynchon, a literary artist, attempts to illustrate a type of cultural chaos within this book.
The plot specifically highlights conspiracies and illusions. The reader is told of Oedipas perplexities with the mystery of Tristero, but there is never a solution. Oedipa believes Tristero to be something of a constellation. Through this fact, Pynchon directly illustrates his own technique the imposition of interpretation on the meaningless. For, constellations consist of no order they are entirely random. Yet this conspiracy is Oedipas quest, and a reader is lead to believe that at the end of the quest, the riddle will be solved. None of the readers expectations are fulfilled.
By doing this, the chaos of Pynchons novel epitomizes the chaos within the novel. As such, the language of The Crying of Lot 49 is far leap from semiology. In fact, Pynchon goes so far as to structuralize the linguistics of the novel in such a way that one does not know how the signified and the signifiers even relate to one another. Pynchon took that which was familiar language, and warped it in such a way that all signs became unfamiliar, thus classifying this book by Shklovskys definition of art. Pynchon warps the horizon of expectation by presenting, in linguistic appearance and connotation, a world that is seemingly conventional and communicable. Yet he communicates the story by means of a language full of satire and allusion, leading the reader to believe the value of the signs is inseparable from the significance.
‘Art is a time traveller; art is an omnipresent teller of story. It’s more effective than CNN, the BBC and Sky News put together. Art is all the poems read, at all the funerals and weddings that happened, on every day of every year of your life, from every class, gender and sexuality of human being. The freedom to write is a sign of a free society. Art is the greatest symbol, the greatest ...
But Pynchons language is never clear, and one knows not if it is arbitrary. Therefore, communication and convention are by no means social in Pynchons novel. The Crying of Lot 49 successfully defamiliarizes the readers innate or known systemic linguistic knowledge. Pynchon deautomatizes perception and forces unique insight from each reader. As a result, his product is a piece of art as defined by Shklovsky.