The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


“Biosemiotics (bios=life & semion=sign) is an interdisciplinary science that studies communication and signification in living systems. Communication is the essential characteristic of life. An organism is a message to future generations that specifies how to survive and reproduce. Any autocatalytic system transfers information (i.e. initial conditions) to its progeny so that daughter systems will eventually reach the same state as their parent. Self-reproducing systems have a semantic closure (Pattee 1995) because they define themselves in their progeny. A sign (defined in a broadest sense) is an object that is a part of some self-reproducing system. A sign is always useful for the system and its value can be determined by its contribution to the reproductive value of the entire system. The major trend in the evolution of signs is the increase of their complexity via development of new hierarchical levels, i.e., metasystem transitions (Turchin 1977).”

Who is familiar with this term? A dear friend and mad scientist Jack Cohen sent me an essay I’ll be digesting for the next few days on this fascinating and hitherto unknown subject. Can’t wait.
Been interesting to read commentary on "Bourne Ultimatum." They praise it (deservedly) and contrast it with Bond, (especially "Casino Royale") which is legitimate in one sense, and unfair in another. I mean, the thing that makes Bourne so interesting is that he is a spy seeking his own identity. So...does anyone think "Ultimatum," the third Bourne film (and reportedly the last Matt Damon will star in) will have more impact on cinema than, say "Goldfinger" did? Really? Goldfinger was my first 007 movie, and I remember clearly that it created an absolute fever of excitement across the country, with dozens of imitation spy films and television shows and comic books and so forth. Does anyone think that Bourne could be sustained across even a dozen films at anything remotely close to the level we saw in the first three? I understand why Damon is doubtful about more: they've gone pretty close to the bottom of the barrel. One more movie, maybe, as he re-unites with his family and straightens out whatever problems THEY have. And after that? Uh...finding Julia Stiles and figuring out if they actually had a relationship? And after that? If I'm not mistaken, that dumps Bourne squarely in the middle of the typical spy movie scenario, and the whole thing cools off pretty quickly. Now, understand: Universal WILL make more Bourne movies, for the same reason you're going to work tomorrow: bills need to be paid. Will they be artistically corrupt? Probably, but not necessarily. A brilliant writer/director might come up with something radical. But the more radical it is, the more the executives at Universal will be scared: they want to provide the audience with an experience that will deliver a predictable level of satisfaction. Commerce and Art mate kinda like porcupines (very carefully), but it does occasionally happen.

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