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Ocula 12 Vol. 13  |  March 2012  |  DOI: 10.12977/ocula1  |  METADATA ➞ PDF   |  < >

Alibi: an Approach to the Semiotics of Travel

We all travel, more or less often, for pleasure. We almost all collect tickets and addresses. We take notes, keep travel journals or take snaps. In short, we create texts about our trips.
The question underlying this issue is: how could semiotics be useful to the analysis of a travelogue (in a particular sense of the term that we are about to specify)? Our pre-emptive decision is to not include the analysis of literary, cinematic or television travel accounts to avoid the risk of churning out the umpteenth analysis of a corpus of narrative texts, an activity that semiotics has already covered in length and breadth. Instead we thought it would be interesting to ask semiotics scholars to analyse their own journeys in the form of texts created to narrate them, or as events (or text-events if one believes that there is no difference between experience and its narration).
Whether or not a semiologist is able to analyse him or herself is not an issue we chose to address to any great extent. Essentially however, according to the actantial model, the same actor can embody two roles, so there is no reason why analysts can't be Subjects faced with their own - interior and exterior- behaviour as the Object of value to be comprehended through observation. This oscillation between oneself includes a further débrayage: the spatial one, which is typical of journeys, and which inevitably leads to the detachment in time that always separates the narration from its contingent experience.
In this issue of Ocula we are presenting seven (peer reviewed) articles, without any additional comments: the pleasure of encountering semiotic texts telling of actants and places (and always merging them together) will be left to the reader. But allow us to express our surprise on how, by responding to the proposed subject, the articles seem to reveal more of the authorial identities than of the background they describe. Once again, the cliché according to which travelling is first and foremost a journey within oneself seems to be reconfirmed. This first exploration on travel also seems to be an initial survey of the extremely interesting field of the semiotics of the reflective gaze, of self narration. A subject that many may consider a taboo yet an unrivalled revealer of the plastic quality of language, because while speaking about oneself, the object and the subject collide and merge, and the linguistic residual is the litmus paper of that eye-less lens that is one’s actual self. In short, while comparing these articles we witness the traditional opposition between going and returning, non-home and home, i.e. between nomadic and sedentary stances. There are those who clearly link the journey to non-home, a place where one spends time in order to return: “one travels to be fed up with travelling, to accumulate home-sickness, to be sure of one's conviction that the world is an alien place and that one cannot be at ease unless one is at ‘home’.” (Leone). Others find in travelling the dimension of their “wanting to be”, the release of their energy, as Manzo describes herself in New York in “She’s wild”.
We have also realised that travelling is not commensurable to permanence. These values are not opposable because moving between places has nothing to do with settling in a place; being within a network of social and spatial constants is completely different from continually changing them. Because one's actual self changes, and everything changes with it. In this journey among semiotic travellers our discipline extends its boundaries from the application of classic models to their critical scrutiny and, as is clear in Pellerey’s contribution, to minute non-theoretical notations that question us about the semiotic eye that gives this journal its name and that, in the final analysis, must establish its value, as any other tool, on what it is capable to show and not on the lens by which it is shown.
Contributors to this Issue: Stefano Carlucci, Francesco Galofaro, Massimo Leone, Lidia K. C. Manzo, Roberto Pellerey, Amedeo Trezza, William Vastarella.
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Two travels that are different as for the places and environments (Brasil and China), the purpose and reason (one was for voluntary work in international cooperation, the other for tourism), the depth of the contact (one was residential, the other in ceaseless move), yet similar as |... ⇲
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The industry of tourism progressively strips the travel of one of its core anthopological and existential values, namely, being a laboratory where the traveller is allowed to experiment a temporary break up of his/her habits of sedentary belonging, shielded by the planned return ho |... ⇲
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The first part of the article consists in some travel notes from the "nonexistent country", as once Jarry defined Poland. The second part is an attempt to draw some metasemiotic consequences of the impact of a different culture I was not prepared to face. I do not deny that in suc |... ⇲
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An unexpected "work" travel turns out to be, for the young and naive researcher, a good chance to improve his experience and make personal acquaintance with a complex reality as that of the Basque country. The destination for many years fancied in the dreams of a hopeful surfer, ch |... ⇲
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Can the travel experience, to the eyes of a semiotician, make him reflect on the alleged capability of verbal language to give everything a form, and on the crucial role that, on the contrary, spatial languages often play, as possible pass keys for any traveller who, not sharing th |... ⇲
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Travel and music are variations on a potential difference; some of Propp's (1928) categories can be applied to the analysis of a trip seen as a narrative.The travel is a communication process: the sender is the starting place, the addressee is the place of arrival, the message is t |... ⇲
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I'm living for the holyday of my life! Graduating with flying colours in a very short time and having research interests in urban studies: is all this enough to build yourself a socially acceptable alibi to get away for one whole month to New York City? Trough the flighty gaze of a |... ⇲

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ISSN 1724-7810   |   DOI: 10.12977/ocula

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