1. Minou Drouet was a child poet in the 1950’s. she was so young that people thought her poems must have been written by an adult. But the Chicago tribune thought these were unmistakably written by a child (Engel, 1957). She describes objects in a very honest and child-like way- and with a completely different take to how adults might see them eg. a tree bereft of leaves ‘..seems like a tree drawn by a clumsy child who is too poor to buy coloured crayons and so drew it just with the brown chalk left over from making maps at school.’ (Drouet quoted in Engel, 1957). These descriptions are so different to how an adult would interpret the world that they nicely illustrate Barthes’s view that there are no limits or rules as to how human societies should describe objects.
2. Other elements within images that can signify passion, emotions or other objects or events…
Fig. 1 Condron, T (no date)
This joke hinges partially on the idea that the man with a pipe, bald head, dirty jacket, and scruffy hair is an academic and will therefore be nerdy and not good at small talk!
ii. Fig. 2 Cameron enjoys the Sun
The Sun newspaper has a reputation for being dominated by its titillating page 3 nude girl, and having no news-worthy value.
· Physis- material existence
· Anti-physis- natural existence
· Pseudo-physis- links to ideology
Fig. 3 Kotliarov, L (1935)
Here the miner becomes a symbol for Soviet-Communist increases in productivity.
Fig. 4 Ravilious, E (20th C)
This artist painted many pictures of the English countryside which seemed to symbolise the idyllic purity and calm that was being threatened by the Nazis throughout world war 2.
‘The meaning is always there to present the form; the form is always there to outdistance the meaning’
· Chomsky suggests innate elements to language- eg baby wants milk- mu, ma……
· Structuralist linguistics says the opposite (meaning causes language)
· or is meaning the result of language?
Lets take an example which I vaguely remember being discussed by Leonard Bernstein in ‘The Unanswered Question’ TV series.
Language begins after birth and when a baby need s things from its mother to survive- all developments in language might be said to continue to serve as a human proceeds through life and needs to meet the requirements to survive.
When a baby wants attention (eg for warmth or security) the simplest sound he can make is probably one of the vowels- perhaps a prolonged ‘AAAAA’ ! It seems that the meaning comes before the language here- how can a baby decide what he wants to say ? It’s innate sound. When a baby wants milk he may use a different vowel sound to distinguish the meaning from say AAAA (meaning warmth and security)- say ‘eeee’ (vowel i). Perhaps ‘eee’ become ‘milk’ due to another added sound- say an approximate ‘m’ and ‘k’ before and after the i. This sort of process seems a bit like Darwins theory of natural selection for words…. Words appear to some extent at random but with an underlying systematic process-eg ease of enunciation?? , and are fixed with meaning if they suit the purpose……and the words are ‘maintained as a species’ by recurrent use – other words never develop beyond an initial point.
This sort of process makes most sense to me- meaning before words during development. How do we explain the development of language in similar ways in similar geographical areas ? Perhaps this is originally one language, then due to movement of different peoples the one language is modified in certain ways and becomes similar but different in different geographic areas.
Of course this is only one possible mechanism, and perhaps many may exist. Certainly adult language is very complex, and there may be some words which come first and are then fixed with a meaning (but I can’t think of any immediately).
Of course there may be an element of ‘we understand to be true that which tells us to be true’ but only to a certain extent. For example if you said to me,
‘my cat is called ‘The Bard of Pocklington’ and he has just completed a round the world yacht race whilst singing Nessum Dorma by Puccini’
I would know that your meaning was in some way ‘false’, but my imagination may make a funny image or story or reality out of the information. It’s about different shades of reality-as Althusser said, ‘the material existence of the ideology in an apparatus and in practices does not have the same modality as the material existence of a paving stone or a rifle’ (1999).
Fig. 1 Condron, T (no date)‘He’s surprisingly good at small talk’ [cartoon] online at https://www.cartoonstock.com/directory/e/emotional_intelligence.asp [accessed 19th May 2017]
Fig. 2 Scarfe, G (2009) ‘Cameron enjoys the Sun’ [print] online at
[accessed 19th May 2017]
Fig. 3 Kotliarov, L (1935) ‘Alexei Stakhanov’ [photograph] online at
[accessed 19th May 2017]
Fig. 4 Ravilious, E (20th C) ‘Furlongs’ [watercolour] online at
Althusser, L (1993). ‘Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses’. In visual culture: A reader. Evans, J and Hall,,S (eds), London. SAGE Publications. p317-324
Engel, P (1957) Minou Drouet’s poems [online at] http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1957/11/24/page/179/article/minou-drouets-poems [accessed 18th May 2017].