A typical example of higher order object is a melody

Info icon This preview shows pages 4–6. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
between its elements even if these elements are no longer the same. A typical example of higher order object is a melody. Chopin’s Piano Sonata No.2 in B flat minor op. 35 will remain melodically recognizable even if played with a mandolin. From an aesthetic point of view the result would be disastrous, but the melodic pattern would be preserved — and it would be recognizable also if some notes would be dropped. It would be interesting to decide which notes can be dropped without destroying the musical Gestalt and which ones are on the contrary essential or diagnostic in order to identify that melody as such. It is not a theoretical problem, it is rather a task for a musical critic, and it will have different solutions according to the object of analysis. However, this reflection is important because the same problem exists when we are dealing with a fictional character. There are two versions of Little Red Riding Hood’s story, the Perrault’s and the Grimms’ one, and in the former the girl is not rescued by the hunters and dies devoured by the wolf. Curiously enough, she remains the same individ- ual in both versions, while (I suspect) nobody would recognize her if she appeared as a young lady, dressed like a princess, without the red cap. Would Madame Bovary still be Madame Bovary if she did not commit suicide? There is a short story by Woody Allen called The Kugelmass Episode (published in Side Effects ) where Madame Bovary is brought by a sort of time-machine to have a love af- fair in today’s New York. Emma Bovary appears as a parody of the original character, she wears contemporary dresses and behaves as a Tiffany-goer, but she is still recogniz- able because she keeps most of her basic properties — namely, she is a petty bourgeois and the wife of a doctor, she lives usually at Yonville, she is unsatisfied with her coun- tryside life, she is inclined to adultery. In Allen’s story the suicide is not mentioned; but it is essential for the ironic quality of the narration that Emma be fascinating (and desir-
Image of page 4

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
able) just because she was on the verge of committing suicide — and Kugelmass is obliged to science-fictionally enter Flaubert’s world before Emma had her last adulter- ous relation, just in order not arrive too late. We can thus assume that a fictional character remains the same even if it is set in a different context, provided diagnostic properties (to be defined for each case) are pre- served. Fictional characters as semiotic objects At this point, I cannot escape the basic ontological question: which kind of entities are fictional characters and in which way they, if do not exist, at least subsist ? Being a set of properties, a fictional character is a semiotic object . I define so ev- ery device by which an expression conveys a set of properties as its content — provided one assumes that every expression (a word, an image or some other device) is, as Searle has suggested “a peg for hanging descriptions, or properties” (reference).
Image of page 5
Image of page 6
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern