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The first edition of the International Conference Semiosis in Communication: Knowing and Learning will be organized by the National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, Romania (NUPSPA) in participation with Roehampton University, London, UK and under the auspices of the International Association for Semiotic Studies (IASS-AIS). It will be held in Bucharest, Romania, from the 16th to the 18th of June, 2016.

This conference explores the role of semiosis (interpretation) in communication. As such, the conference offers an insight towards the epistemological relations between semiotics and other approaches to communication coming from perspectives such as sociology, philosophy of language and communication theory.

Semiotics is currently enjoying an increasing popularity within the humanities and social sciences. Understood as relational logic (Charles Peirce) or hermeneutics (structuralism and poststructuralism), semiotics fundamentally implies its certain positions in regard to communication. Because of the generality and conceptual vagueness of both of these phenomena, semiosis and communication, how one sheds light on the other is still an underexplored theme. This conference is a pioneer exploration of this relation.

Semiosis is the semiotic account of interpretation, understood as a triadic cooperation. Various schools of semiotics set various boundaries to semiosis: within all existing and possible reality (physiosemiotics), within the world of living organisms (biosemiotics), within the animal world (some accounts of zoosemiotics), or within human culture (structuralism and some accounts of anthroposemiotics). Each of these perspectives has profound implications for the understanding of communication.

The conference proceeds in two panels (sessions), each focused on a theme. In accordance with the paper proposals, the preliminary list of suggested sessions will be updated.

In Memoriam Solomon Marcus

Solomon Marcus (1925–2016)

Dear colleagues,

It is with great sadness that I inform you of the death of our friend and distinguished collaborator, Solomon Marcus.

A true polymath and a fitting representative of semiotics’ inherent interdisciplinarity for so many years – Solomon Marcus seemed to be a ubiquitous presence in semiotics. A prominent Romanian mathematician, he coupled rigour and logic with a comprehensive vision that is the privileged possession of only the most far-seeing historians of ideas.

If you would like the opportunity to pay your tributes to Marcus the semiotician, please go to http://iass-ais.org

Best,
Paul Cobley,
IASS-AIS President

“Hide and seek”… with Solomon Marcus and Umberto Eco

“If anyone asks me why do I live I answer that I live for
the necessity to wonder, for the necessity of ecstasy.
I have been as fortunate as not to be bored ever,
I learnt about boredom from others, not from myself.”

In an article in Adevărul newspaper, on the 26th of September 2015, professor Solomon Marcus recited some lyrics from the poem “Hide and Seek” by Arghezi. He knew the poem since his childhood!

“My darlings, sometime I shall play / A strange game with you, strange to see / What day it shall be, my chicks, I can’t say, / But we’re sure to play it some day, / Some day after sunset maybe. / It’s a wily game, old folks’ game, / With children your size, with a girl just like you, / A menials’ game and masters’ game, / For dogs and for birds and for flowers the same, / And each one can play it so true. / We shall love one another with lasting love, / Gathered at table all in good cheer / Under the tents of our God above, / And one day the leg will fail to move, / The hand will go limp, the eye will go stale, the tongue will go sear / Gently the game does begin, like a breeze. / I shall laugh and fall silent that day, / I shall go and lie down on the ground, /I shall lie there and utter no sound, / By the tree, let us say […]“

The poem continues:

“It is the game of the Holy Writ. / Our Lord Jesus Christ played it too / And others who in a cold of feverish fit, / With a few spams did quit / The game, in all fairness, as due. / And when they have taken and borne me away /Don’t heave a soare sigh with each breath. / They’ll give me a burial, as they say, / In the hard loosened clay. /Such is the game, it commences with death.”

After no more than five months, on the 26th of February 2016, Solomon Marcus urged us: “To begin seeking Umberto Eco, without disciplinary and pedagogical prejudices, to enjoy the “hide and seek” show which he offers.” This was his last article, published in România Literară journal, written in remembrance of his friend, Umberto Eco.

Approaching a wide diversity of fields, through his transdisciplinary theoretical practice, Solomon Marcus was an encyclopaedic spirit, of Renaissantist breadth. He was simoultaneously in love with mathematics, theatre, poetry and many other universal paradigms. He preferred this expression, instead of “disciplines”. He considered that this latter term imposes arbitrary borders amongst various modes of knowing. Like Umberto Eco, he was “a man par excellence free, […], born semiotician, a semiotician to the very marrow of his bones”.

Solomon Marcus was a socratic spirit. He liked to “corrupt” youngsters to freedom, to disclose them to the performance of wonder, of questioning and of failing. He continuosly invited the young to discover “the great game”, to “climb” towards the hidden order of the world. He visited tens of colleges and universities in Romania, he lectured, and he discussed with pupils, students and teachers. He recently stated the “ten human needs”, complementary with the ten commandments. This is an innocent cry for our educational system.

As a semiotician, he left landmark writings which will be useful for many generations of scholars: The semiotics of folklor. A linguist-mathematic approach, Signs about signs, The mathematical semiotics of the visual arts, Art and science, Modes of thinking, and, not least, the book Universal Paradigms, which was published 5 years ago, as a synthesis of the thought of this great scholar.

Eero Tarasti stated about Solomon Marcus that: „No other semiotician is so accurate and challenging in his reasoning about fundamental issues of our discipline.” For Marcel Danesi, Solomon Marcus was „A giant figure in semiotics”.

Solomon Marcus left to play “hide and seek” together with Umberto Eco, his contemporary colleague (Umberto Eco was born 7 years before Solomon Marcus and died 26 days before him).

We are all playing the game.
What a wonder it is to be in this same game together with Solomon Marcus and Umberto Eco!

With the departure of Solomon Marcus, the conference Semiosis in communication. Knowing and learning is not left without an honorary president. On the contrary, the international prestige of the researcher Solomon Marcus, globally appreciated, referenced and honoured, sponsors this conference, which thus transforms in an homage to this great scholar.

The Organizing Committee of the International Conference
Semiosis in Communication: Knowing and Learning – 2016