Friday, December 7


I'm not exactly sure, but I think perhaps I have found another linguistic skeuomorph. you remember me talking about these, eh? this one isn't a total skeuomorph yet, I don't think. maybe a hybrid.

the word is subscribe.

originally and long, long ago this word meant a few different things. "to sign at the bottom of a document," or "to write underneath, sign one's name." later on we get "contribute money to" and "become a regular buyer of a publication." you might like to see the more complete etymology here.

to subscribe...
to underwrite...

and now we use these words differently. subscription in a digital open-access universe doesn't involve money in the same way a subscription to a magazine or newspaper does. but I guess time and attention are money in their own ways.
oh words and all their shifting stretchable meanings. so fascinating. all the Locke and Hume and Derrida we've read this semester has been messing about with what everything really means, or if anything really means. almost nobody agrees with Plato anymore, about the existence of actual forms and essences and realities beyond the bits we can see and touch and talk about. does that make things difficult?

or does it not matter? even if there is a truth beyond language and perception, perhaps we'll never reach it.

and now that I'm thinking about this, Nietzsche might say all language is skeuomorphic. endless, inescapable skeuomorphism. chains of metaphors that tell us nothing. and everything is just an illusion that we've forgotten is an illusion.

(the semester will be officially over for me on Wednesday next. but I can't promise that such an event will make me quit talking about Derrida. sorry?)

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