Signs

by lisa st john

 

Wrong-Way-Go-Back-Sign-K-7425

Sign : something (such as an action or event) which shows that something else exists, is true, or will happen.

If only I had seen this sign before I got married at 17. Or if someone had shown it to me before I said, “yes” on so many other bizarre occasions. Oh well. They probably did show me. I probably did see a sign. I just ignored it. I don’t think we are meant to pay attention to most signs.

If a sign’s purpose is to show that “something else exists” then isn’t everything a sign? It’s like language. There is no understanding without metaphor—comparison. Semantics demands it. This science of signs is based on the fact that, “everything is created from the interaction of three things: real objects, signs and interpretations of signs” (Pierce qtd. Carreira). This is reality.

 

DANGER! MEN IN TREES

Out here in the country, this was a common sign before the more politically correct versions came out. While we should very well be afraid of men in trees, I think the actual meaning was more like, “watch out for the construction/tree trimming going on up ahead.” If we really want to get particular, then we must realize that, “Things do not exist unless they exist in relationship with something else. In fact, things do not exist at all. Relationships exist. There are no individual things. The existence of anything is always contingent upon something else” (Carreira in the fantastic website called Philosophy is Not a Luxury: dedicated to the profound utility of questioning reality).

 

This is why obvious signs baffle me. “Do not iron while wearing shirt.” Really?

 

Then again, if a sign’s purpose is to show that “something is true” what about the foolishness of predictability and superstition? I tripped as I left the porch. A sure “sign” that I should have stayed home. A crop circle sign? Proof of aliens or bored humans with tractors and lasers? If a sign’s purpose is to show that “something will happen” then I better start reading my horoscope. Apparently I am a Virgo but in other cultures I am a snake. So I am a “virgin” who has the “sensual art of seduction down.” M-kay.

 

The only thing without a sign is Zero. How magical is mathematics? Our friend Wikipedia states that, “In mathematics, the concept of sign originates from the property of every non-zero real number to be positive or negative. Zero itself is signless…The number zero is neither positive nor negative, and therefore has no sign. In arithmetic, +0 and −0 both denote the same number 0, which is the additive inverse of itself.”

 

Poetry!

 

The true irony rests in the phrase “Sign of the Times” which can either be the biblical nonsense or the name of an interesting website that purports to be an “experiment” that arranges news items in relation to quantum physics.

 

In a world where, “More people believe in angels and the devil than believe in the theory of evolution” methinks we have a problem actually seeing signs.

 

You can become blind by seeing each day as a similar one. Each day is a different one, each day brings a miracle of its own. It’s just a matter of paying attention to this miracle.

Paulo Coelho

 

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Jeff Carreira
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Thank you for quoting my blog. I have found, like you, that as we enter into the linguistic/semantic domain we do not peal a false layer away from reality – we find that reality – at least the only reality we know – includes our expression of it.

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