Context (What else is this connected to?)


0.0 BILL: Now, to another aspect of context, the associations between a distinguishable meaning and other related meanings. What I mean by “distinguishable meaning” might be a conversation, a song, a building, the demeanor of a person, a painting or a book.

Each of these has noticeable beginnings and ends. For some media, these beginnings and ends are expressed mainly in time - the beginning and end of a conversation or a song, for instance. For other media, the beginnings and ends are expressed in positions in place - the covers of a book, or the entrance to a building, for instance.

0.44 BILL: Elsewhere in this grammar, we spoke about meanings having structures, patterns within them that hold them together and make them coherent - the distinctive patterns in the beginnings, middles and ends of conversations, songs, buildings, bodily demeanors, paintings, or books.

These we want to call “endophoric relations” in order to make a contrast with what we will now call “exophoric relations” – the relations with other conversations, other songs, other buildings, the demeanor of a person at different times, other paintings or other books. These exophoric connections we call “association.”

1.20 BILL: We want to revise slightly and rename a distinction made by the philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre. He said there were three ways to see the crowd in his city, Paris.

A group of people, he says, are waiting for a bus in front of the church in Place Saint-Germain, Paris. They are together in this moment as a consequence of “the inert effect of separate activities.” This, we would term a serial association, the association of bodies in an otherwise anonymous crowd.

Sartre says: “[W]e are concerned here with a plurality of isolations: these people do not care about or speak to each other and, in general, do not look at one another.”

Contrast this with these people’s actual social relations, Sartre goes on. These may well be on their mind at the time, while they are waiting for the bus – their families at home and the nearby community in which their families live. These associations we call scaling, from smaller social structures nested within larger ones.

But then these same people may join a movement – they may march down the street in support of better public transport, for instance – this is expressive causality.

2.36 BILL: To exemplify association multimodally, spatially expressed artifacts and temporal episodes of meaning can be associated in three ways.

The first we call seriality, or things that are nearby in time or place. The conversation that is connected with another one because it happens before or after, the song put at a particular place in a playlist, the building which is located near another one, a bodily movement by one person that is near another’s bodily movement, the other paintings in a collection, or other books on the shelf.

3.06 BILL: Scaling is distinguishable meanings that are within other meanings: one part of a conversation, before its subject and tone is changed within a longer conversation, a movement in a concerto, a single gesticulation within an embodied interaction that moves through many, one kind of rooms that is to be found in that kind of building, or a chapter within a book and a book within a library.

3.33 BILL: A third kind of association, which we call “expressive causality,” is where a meaning is expressive of a wider totality: conversations are expressive of shared community, objects are expressive of kinds of utility or aesthetics, buildings may be expressive of urbanism.

  • Reference: Kalantzis, Mary and Bill Cope, 2020, Adding Sense: Context and Interest in a Grammar of Multimodal Meaning, Cambridge UK, Cambridge University Press, pp. 177-81.