It is a pleasure to be able to quote comments from reviews of selected papers in this issue. It is gratifying that the quality of papers can be confirmed through such feedback. Responses to several papers have been outstanding. We will consider publishing comments to additional papers in this and later issues.
Semiotic analysis of the Corinthian order in the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Florence, 1420-1490 , by Gabriele Aroni, was commended for its “ingenious combination between the synchronic perspective of semiotics and the diachronic approach specific to historical studies, among arts history.” The rigorous organisation of the arguments, the systematic unity and coherence of the analytical description of the architectural object” were noted. The paper “is able to prove the efficiency of “the Threefold Laws of Meaning”, developed by Lady Welby in architecture analysis. I could say that the triadic relation between sense, meaning and significance, inspired by Welby’s thought is exploited in this paper in a specific manner, which could evoke Benveniste’s dissociation between a semiotic of the sign (otherwise, of the “sense”), and respectively, a semiotic of the discourse (of the “meaning” and “significance”), or also the dissociation between a purely semantic dimension of the sign, and a pragma-semantic one, the latter deeply depending on the users and the context of utilisation.”
A second reviewer thought this paper was “excellent” and commended its publication. “I point to its clarity. Having recently had a piece of my own reviewed by a reader thankful for the clarity of expression, I congratulate the author on his or hers. The paper is very well written and, in fact, is one of the more syntactically elegant pieces I’ve read in quite a while. I found the expression to be clear, and the author’s meaning plain. Given the complex subject matter, and that pieces on architecture regularly and liberally engage the arts of obfuscation, how very refreshing! … I enjoyed, in particular, the author’s discussion on the difference between meaning and significance – terms all to often conflated and muddled. … I congratulate the author on his or her thoughtful, well-structured, well-expressed, well-referenced, persuasive, and enlightening essay. And might I also thank him or her for the excellent accompanying images. Only rarely, these days, do I print an essay off – but I did this one.”
Reviewers were challenged by The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine, written by Hing Tsang. One found it “depressing in an illuminating sense – if, in the process of being depressed, there might be said to be something uplifting…. To put it another way, this paper must be published. In the context of the most harrowing of imaginable circumstances, in the most nuanced manner the author deals with the matter of individual and collective/societal memory… The essay first offers a theoretical framework that encourages the reader to think beyond memory as an individual phenomenon and then builds to a consideration of re-presentation as a means by which the individual might re-engage with actual events rather than with a self-sanitised, self-regulated version of these. In this context, the tension between representation and re-presentation could not be made more viscerally real. This reminds me of the effects of re-presentation when Zanuck made The Longest Day. Dealing, once again, with horrors, veterans who witnessed the reenactment declared the 1962 film to be disturbingly real. Interestingly, despite its more produced effects and feel, Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan provoked even greater expressions of sickened ‘admiration’ among veterans. Here, individual and collective memory coalesced.
Ironically, with respect to S21- The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine, “rather than provoking expressions of disgust from the perpetrators of unspeakable crimes, re-enactment most commonly prompts an even greater sense of denial. But, as the article’s author suggests, against a collective memory that is very different, perhaps this is the most telling condemnation. War against one’s own people is never as simple as war against the peoples of another nation or culture.”
I have lost my reputation: Power, communication, and Complaints against Medical Practitioners, by Paul Ryder and Dr. Themi Garagouniive, was thought to be “quite well written. Indeed it displays a quality of academic writing that is becoming hard to find these days. It is clear, well organized, although slightly repetitive when it comes to meta-voicing about its content and agenda. I found it convincing relative to its stated aim.That was to show that present forms of remediation and training to help medical practitioners avoid or lessen the incidence and impact of complaints are not sufficiently deeply informed by historical and theoretical understandings of how the usual doctor-patient relation underpins and helps cause these problems. To show this, the author takes us beyond the usual training and communication education provided to young doctors into the history of the clinical gaze and analysis of the power relations inscribed in it. Interestingly to me, at least, a literature, pre-Foucault, on power relations in clinical situations was drawn upon, in addition to issues in communication theory.”
Another comment was made, that “the author is onto something with his/her critique of how this very pressing and practical problem for doctors is presently being handled. It is always interesting to see a persuasive argument for the deployment in policy and institutional practices of perspectives developed in more theoretical reaches of the social sciences and humanities.”