Each of the papers in this first issue has individual merit, yet collectively and indirectly they together signpost and gesture towards pertinent possible future directions of this review journal initiative overall. Actually, a core of papers in this issue can be identified by the leitmotif “gesture”. This coincidence is partly accidental, and partly historical (in terms of prior attendance of some authors at a conference forum) – but the result is a collective voice or discourse that serves as a template in both form and content for key features of this publishing initiative.
Any of the special themes in individual issues of this publication are not meant to be prescriptive, and general or supplementary papers will be included in each issue. Special issues help highlight some distinct themes, preferred by editors, editorial associates and guest editors. An individual journal should have implicit direction and distinct emphases, in addition to serving as a conduit to good quality comprehensive contributions.
Augusto Ponzio and Susan Petrilli offer an important contribution to discourse studies in “Visions of the Other and Free Indirect Speech in Artistic Discourse. Bakhtin, Pasolini.” They use Bakhtin, Vološinov and Pasolini as anchors in quasi-linguistic argument. They argue that existing models of conversational discourse and communication do not acquit a special qualitative field of interaction and group dynamics that can be expressed through the Bakhtian sense of polyphony. The argument is as sustained as it is impressive in style and important in content, and is consolidated in its second half through attention to Deleuze’s study of film. The paper ends with a focus on writing and media, foreseeing new opportunities and examples for its theory of indirect discourse in media forms. This is an expansive yet rich, deep inquiry, that deserves and commands further attention, and philosophical and semiotic response.
Massimo Leone’s “The Dancing Cop: Semiotics and Innovation” provides an elegant, Barthes-like article/paper elucidating a popular yet still unusual and arresting gestural phenomenon. Ramiro Hinojas, a traffic cop in Manila, combines the habitualised repertoire of hand signals with a simulation of Michael Jackson dance. There is so much to enjoy in this short piece, which elegantly and effortlessly includes the formal theory of Hjelmslev in analysis that is dynamic at so many levels. Like Barthes’ study of popular culture – for example a boxing match or striptease – there is complexity in the ephemeral, and erudition in the everyday. Leone uses an incidental, intercultural example to commence an argument about transformation and interplay of signs systems. On the one hand, semiotics becomes a toolkit for intellectual journalism and travelogue; on the other, the case study is underpinned by a seminal sense of semiosis as experimental and innovative, as a process which motivates and illuminates not so much the conventions and habits of culture meaning, as a creative supplement to what is already known, a supplement that constantly disrupts, challenges and innovates communicative and behavioural practices. The thesis – that semiosis involves constant innovation and risk, on the edge of conventionalised usage or code – needs to be contrasted to the emphasis in many semiotic methods to see the constant and regular pattern of signification.