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Juri Lotman “Autocommunication”

Lotman, Yuri 2001. Autocommunication: ‚I’ and ‚Other’ as addressees. – Lotman, Y. Universe of the Mind. London; New York: I.B. Tauris Publishers, 20-35.

The difference comes down to the fact that while in the ‚I-s/he’ system information is transferred in space, in the ‚I-I’ system it is transferred in time. (21)

Considering everything else Lotman says about autocommunication’s transformational qualities, it may seem that he reduces space strictly to the delivering of messages without any change: messages are being passed along as they are, almost naturally. In this light, also, it seems that autocommunication is necessary if any kind of translation is to occur: all translation is autocommunication: culture can not operate without the dimension of autocommunication.

The ‚I-s/he’ system allows one merely to transmit a constant quantity of information, whereas the ‚I-I’ system qualitatively transforms the information, and this leads to a restructuring of the actual ‚I’ itself. (22)

Messages passed along the i-s/he channel have the ability to trigger autocommunication processes, and if such triggering does not take place, the message will have been meaningless to the adressee? In light of studies of power relations: every effect on a subject needs to trigger his autocommunication processes: power works on autocommunication, inserts itself in the I-I channel.

Simultaneous transmission along two communication channels is not only a property of artistic texts, it is also a feature of culture if we take culture as a single message. We can therefore divide cultures into those where the message transmitted along the general linguistic ‚I-s/he’ channel is predominant, and those oriented towards autocommunication. (33)

Cultures oriented towards autocommunication are capable of great activity, but are often much less dynamic than human society requires. (35)

This statements seems a bit paradoxical: if autocommunication is the only phenomenon that enables a subject to transform itself, how can a culture be less dynamic if it is oriented towards autocommunication? It is here, I think that we need to separate autocommunication from self-description, the latter being an outcome of specific autocommunicational processes, while the formes would signify any kind of inner semiotic activity that has the possibility to transform the subject. Self-description forms the subject in one specific mold, autocommunication transforms, and even makes possible the transformation of, the subject.

The trend towards mental consumerism is a dangerous aspect of the culture which is lopsidedly oriented towards the acquisition of information from outside. (35)

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