Autocommunication - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Autocommunication is a term used in communication studies, semiotics and other cultural studies to describe communication from and to oneself. This is distinguished from the more traditionally studied form of communication where the sender and the receiver of the message are separate. This can be called heterocommunication.
So autocommunication seems to primarily a cultural studies term. It hasn't hit me yet that this is so, because there are similar terms in philosophy (e.g. introspection), psychology (e.g. inner speech), physiology (e.g. proprioception), etc. It may very well be that it is portrayed this way because only Lotman and Broms are cited in this article, and the notion in question is specifically autocommunication, not self-communication. There's a very important aspect to this: in cultural studies the "self" that communicates with itself is a "supraindividual" self. It's not even a "social" self, but a society as a self.
Where heterocommunication gives the receiver new information, autocommunication does not. Instead it enhances and restructures the receiver's ego. Both forms of communication can be found either in individuals or within organisations. When autocommunication is done by an individual it can be called intrapersonal communication.
Here I think is a malformation [abnormal or anomalous formation or structure; deformity] of the concept. Lotman has written that autocommunication "enhances and restructures" the information. I don't recall him speaking about the ego, as such, but that may be the fault of my own memory. Vaatame üle: "autokommunikatsioon, mida ligikaudu määratlevad mõisted, nagu "avastus" ja "inspiratsioon": minu poolt minusse sisestatud informatsioon korreleerub eelnenud informatsiooniga, mis on fikseerunud mu mälus, korrastab selle ja tulemusena saadakse väljundina märkimisväärne informatsioonihulga kasv." (Lotman 2010: 74). This is only one definition (I'm relying on my own notes, not on the original text). In translation: [this second type of] atucommunication is approximately defined by notions such as "discovery" and "inspiration": information that I input into myself correlates with previous information that is already fixed in my memory, organizes it and the resulting output is given as a remarkable growth of quantity of information. My translation is bad but the essence seems to be organizing information, not mysely (of course here one could retort that you are the sum total of information you contain... but that would be an awful reduction).
Autocommunication is typical for religious or artistic works. Prayers, mantras and diaries are good examples. In organisations and corporations strategic plans and memos, for example, can function like mantras. But any text (or work) can become autocommunicational if it is read many times over.
This probably comes from Henry Broms rather that Juri Lotman. The latter did talk of religious or artistic works but I'm not sure he claimed that these works themselves autocommunicate. Rather, these types of works are better suited for performing autocommunication. Prayer and admiring art have an autocommunicative function - in these cases the artistic work (as input) enable one to organize one's memory (in prayer you look back at your day and ahead to the future; artistic work is an especially condensed form of information carrier that reveals itsely to different viewers very differently). Diaries are the most common form of autocommunication, and Mihhail Lotman has explicated this very well: "Inimene kirjutab endale, just nagu oleks ta keegi teine. (M. Lotman 2012: 172-173). I think something useful would come from this discussion if I could form some questions to ask people who attend the summer school of semiotics (on autocommunication) next week. E.g. Does autocommunication organize the self/ego or information/knowledge or something else? Returning to this quote, I find it interesting that a text becomes autocommunicational if it is read many times over. Why is repeated reading the treshold? Couldn't first reading reorganize your thoughts? Is this a matter of opinion or is it in some way measurable? This should be a question: When is a text autocommunicational: upon first reading, upon repeated readings or in any reading?

Summer School 2013 – Autocommunication in Semiotic Systems: 40 years after the Theses on the Semiotic Study of Culture | IASS-AIS

[Let us try to] contemplate on communication and autocommunication as a specific topic in cultural semiotics – also in exemplary case studies as a possibility to open discussion on cultural semiotics either as a coherent monolith or an open cumulative paradigm developed through ad hoc research;
The bold phrase suggests what reading wikipedia above already confirmed: that autocommunication is "a specific topic in cultural semiotics". This may be why autocommunication is not listen among "Communication basic topics" on wikipedia (but hey, neither is nonverbal communicatian!).
[Let us try to] hypothesise whether is it possible, both in cultural semiotics and semiotic research associated with contemporary Tartu, to gain the level of systemic coherence presentable in the form of a New Theses?
I would say no, but that's just me. I base my opinion on the varieties of semiotics present in Tartu. It would be very difficult - if not impossible - to create a systemic coherence in it. At best, I would imagen, certain "specific topics" could be presented systematically. That is, we would need a Thesis on Autocommunication, a Thesis on the Semiosphere, a Thesis on the Text, a Thesis on Space, etc.

The problem of autocommunication in psychological practice

Autocommunication is a communication process which represents a particular form of human interaction with oneself. Autocommunication is a term used in scientific literature to describe communication from and to oneself.
This may seem fairly general but some phrases are quite indicative. For example, it says that autocommunication represents "a particular form" OF "human interaction with oneself". That is, autocommunication is here a form of... self-communication? If we take autocommunication to be supraindividual, then yes. But this nit-picking does indicate towards an actual problem: how is autocommunication related to other similar notions, be they self-communication, self-indication or "interaction with oneself". The latter even raises the question whether interaction with oneself is something different than, say, "intraaction". As a sidenote, I thought about how far I can actually go with these notions. Specifically, I am very interested in what I call - for lack of better terms - "nonverbal self-communication". This is completely different from what is normally considered communication. I tried conveying the difference visually. The upper model is Saussure's communication model. The lower is o quasi-Goffmanian:
The difference is that on the upper model two people exchange words but on the lower model words are not necessarily exchanged and there are countless other people involved (here only two are represented). And the self (person on the left) does not only "communicate" nonverbally with other people in the vicinity, but also with him- or herself and the situation at large. This may seem as if I'm simply pushing the boundaries for amusements sake, but these are actual concerns for some and are only beginning to gain some scientific notice. For example, what I consider "nonverbal self-communication" was just my own idea based on nothing more than personal experience; but then I heard a TED talk by Chris Shea, who says: "...it allows me to step back, I can recognize in myself that something is triggered ... and I can be aware of that." This is what I mean: sometimes I may not be very aware of what others are doing or expressing around me, maybe because I'm concentrating on something else or I am simply not able to look around me and stare at people without giving it away, but I can still feel the effects that the behaviour of others brings out in me. Chris Shea's example is noticing that she is flashing someone the tongue and asking herself, as if, "Why am I doing that?" I don't think this perspective is very prevalent in the "body language" discourse, but there seem te be scientists who are very well aware that people's behaviour is "interconnected" in very subtle ways. It may even be that the best way to "read" a situation would be not to eye down others but to simply take note of one's own behaviours. This, too, comes with a risk - mainly of becoming too self-involved. Let's present a question: How is autocommunication related to the notion of feedback?
The theoretical analysis shows that a number of concepts are used to describe this communication process. You can find various definitions of this phenomenon in different researches. There are “autocommunication” [Lotman, 2000], “intrapersonal communication” [Roberts, 1987; Aitken, 2002; Brewers, 2006], “internal dialogue” [Bakhtin, 1994; Kuczynsky, 1988, 1990], “intra-subjective communication” [Petrenko, 1988], “intra-psychic communication” [Freud, 1997; Perls, 1993, 2001].
Whoever wrote this document is fairly aware that others have come up with similar terms before and after Juri Lotman (his is still named first, though). I'll take this as the basis of my own list at the end of this post. The significant aspect of all of this is that most of these terms have an "internal" quality to them. Yet, from the standpoint of textual "supraindividual" notion of autocommunication, it does not have to be "internal" as in intra-personal, intra-subjective or intra-psychic. Rather, the supraindividual notion presumes that several people, or a whole culture or society, constitutes a "whole", a supra-individual person, that communicates with itsely. Think of the case of cultural self-communication wherein a culture communicates with itself. Question: How does a culture communicate with itself?
A variety of these definitions happened during the evolution of psychological science. This variety reflects the stages of this movement.
Again, very true. Bastian, Tichener, Wundt, Freud, James and Mead would be some examples.
Autocommunication is realizing inside the consciousness (psyche). It is the result of consciousness. Autocommunication performs an adaptive function. In information and communicative approach autocommunication is necessary for survival and adaptation to the environment. It can help to interpret a perceptual data for more effective being [Roberts, Edwards, Barker, 1987; Shedletsky, 1995; West, Terner, 2004]. Thinking is a form of intra-psychic communication [Barker, Kibler, 1971].
I can concur with the statement that autocommunication is the result of consciousness - this applies even for the supraindividual "universe of the mind" approach (cultural autocommunication is the result of so-called social mind). Adoptive function, on the other hand, is suspiciously non-Lotmanian. That is, he said (to my knowledge) nothing about this (it is well known that he held anti-Darwinian views). Same goes for interpreting perceptial data and "effective being" (whatever that may be). The last statement is the most interesting and poses a question that has bothered me for a while: Is thinking a form of autocommunicatian?
The idea of consciousness as a space of autocommunication is presented in researches of interactionism [Mead, 1964, 1967, Blumer, 1986; Shyuts, 2004]. Autocommunication is an interiorized form of social relations that shapes the structure of a human person.
I bet some of my teachers would like this first statement: consciousness as a "space" of autocommunication reifies the "fuzzy topography" of cultural semiotics. "Space" seems to be a metaphor here, but then again I'm not on good grounds with discourse on space. The latter claim, that autocommunication is an internalized form of social relations makes sense even from the Lotmanian perspective. Juri Lotman claimed that his mind contained "other minds" with whom he was in constant dialogue. This is a common idea is early psychology and G. H. Mead is indeed a good example of such thinking. Personally I very much like this perspective, because I have a first-hand sense of having "other minds" intermingle with my own (e.g. the ideas of Lotman, Foucault and countless others inhabit my mind and I "converse" with them when I ponder these ideas). Is autocommunication an interiorized form of social relations?
The self, like the mind, is a social emergence (has a social nature?). This social conception of the self, Mead argues (entails) that individual selves are the products of social interaction. Autocommunication is presented as a self-interaction in the Blumer’s concept. Self-interaction is an internalized social process in which the actor interacts with oneself [Blumer, 1986]. The conscious and complete internal communication can be initiated in the inner world only when a problem appears [Schutz, 2004].
This is the well known contention of Mead on the subject of self-formation. Blumer's concept of self-interaction makes sense in terms of, for example, talking to oneself, or even playing with oneself (not a masturbation joke), as when a child hits the football against the wall (although in this case he or she "interacts" with the wall?). The latter part may be scratched for now because we are dealing with psychic phenomena, not bodily.
In the researches of some authors it is noted that autocommunication occurs between “imaginary companions” – different semantic positions on the same theme...
"Imaginary companions" is exactly the term needed to explicate the concept of "internal addressates" (because "addressate" is a weird word).
Several researchers identify the concepts of inner dialogue and inner speech postulating the fact of the genetic and functional dialogic human consciousness [Bakhtin, 1986, 1994, Vygotsky, 1996, 2003, 2005]. In contrast to this approach other authors by analogy with the external speech processes produce monologue and dialogue as the main form of inner speech [Strakhov, 1969]. Other authors say that inner speech is just a means of verbal expression of internal dialogue. Vygotsky used the term “inner speech” both to define a conversation with oneself and a process of expressing thoughts into words [Vygotsky, 1996].
In forming the concept of the semiosphere, Lotman relied on this dialogic understanding of human consciousness, claiming (something to the effect that) the elementary act of understanding is translation and the elementary act of translation is dialogue. Vygotsky's conflation of both "conversation with oneself" and "a process of expressing thoughts into words" makes sense in light of the dictum "autocommunication precedes, companions and succeeds communication". That is, every time one communicates (in whatever form) one is at the same time communicating with oneself.
The functions of intrapersonal communication are to ensure consistency and integrity of personality on the basis of self-determination and self-identification [Shibutani, 1998; Rogers, 1994; Maslow, 2004].
Kui Mihhail Lotman räägib unenägudest, siis ta ütleb, et "üheks normaalse inimese tingimuseks on, et ta ärgates suudab taastada identiteedi iseendaga." (M. Lotman 2012: 97). Autocommunication may be the way a person achieves "identity" with him- or herself, so-to-say "becomes oneself". I would express it in a very general way as "self-communication is a prerequisite for self-identification". This may be formed as an ambiguous question: How are autocommunication and automodels related? This PDF seems to be a draft for a psychological article. Here are the "functions" of autocommunication from the empirical part:
Compensatory functionautocommunication is initiated in order to continue the dialogue and compensate for a shortfall op positive communication. Through internal dialogues a person compensates the excess of "negative" interpersonal communication or lack of the "positive" one.
Self-isolationautocommunication is necessary to avoid negative communication.
Emotive functionemotional discharge and assessment of the situation are realized in autocommunication.
Self-therapyautocommunication is required for implementing self-help and self-support in difficult situations.
Social reflectionautocommunication is necessary to understand how people perceive and evaluate themselves and others.
Communicative anticipationautocommunication is necessary to plan and simulate activity and communication, to rehearse behavior and "live" situations.
Moral regulation and developmentautocommunication is necessary to analyse a person's compliance to one's conscience requirements and one's transformation as a result of this comparison. It implements as a self-criticism and self-training, self-praise and self-charge.
Epistemological functionautocommunication is necessary to implement learning and sely-discovery.
Introspection and self-determinationautocommunication is necessary for introspection and self-determination, it is necessary to make a decision upon oneself and make a responsible choice.
Understandingautocommunication is necessary for understanding and self-understanding.
It goes on like that and gets boring, because autocommunication seems to be "necessary" for almost anything a person does, but it is not clear how or why.

Andrews, Edna 2003. Conversations with Lotman: cultural semiotics in language, literature, and cognition. Toronto: Toronto University Press.

Lotman argues that this form of communication is much more important than has previously been thought, and that autocommunication in fact only secondarily serves a mnemonic function (i.e., when the second 'I' is 'functionally equivalent to a third party' [1990: 21]). The primary role of autocommunication is a cultural one - to create new information. The new information transmitted is qualitatively restructured and necessarily involves a doubling and is never self-contained (1990: 22). (Andrews 2003: 28)
Adrews's interpretation of Lotman is surely not perfect but it is the best I can find at this point. New information seems to come from reorganization of old information (I wonder if this is what is meant by doubling). And qualitative restructuring is a good term. Can you come up with an example on the spot of how autocommunication qualitatively restructures information?
One of the more salient features of autocommunication is that sign types are more indexicalized (e.g., abbreviations can be deciphered only by the text creator, complete sentences are lacking) (Lotman 1990: 26-7). Lotman even claims that rhythmical-metrical systems originate in the autocommunication system and not the 'I-s/he' system (1990: 30). Lotman concludes his discussion with the observation that all of culture is not only 'the sum of the messages circulated by various addressers' but 'as one message transmitted bp the collective "I" of humanity to itself ... a vast example of autocommunication' (1990: 33). (Andrews 2003: 29)
Instead of "supraindividual self" I should use "the collective I of humanity" at least when speaking of this idea in Lotman's work.

Lotman, Yuri 2001. Autocommunication: ‚I’ and ‚Other’ as addressees. – Lotman, Y. Universe of the Mind. London; New York: I.B. Tauris Publishers, 20-35. [by lyhiyhendus]

The difference comes down to the fact that while in the ‚I-s/he’ system information is transferred in space, in the ‚I-I’ system it is transferred in time. (Lotman 2001: 21)
Considering everything else Lotman says about autocommunication’s transformational qualities, it may seem that he reduces space strictly to the delivering of messages without any change: messages are being passed along as they are, almost naturally. In this light, also, it seems that autocommunication is necessary if any kind of translation is to occur: all translation is autocommunication: culture can not operate without the dimension of autocommunication.
This problem has fascinated me for a while. It seems fairly simple: when you communicate with another then the message travels through space; but when you communicate with yourself the message travels through time. Makes perfect sense, right? Not if you consider the variations. If the main function of autocommunication is to produce new information then the aspect of time gets confusing. Isn't communicating with oneself even faster than communicating with another? Also, the "perspective" of space here is person-dependent: if I write a diary in order to communicate with myself then I won't necessarily read it at the same spot where I wrote it. Lyhiyhendus seems to spot some issues as well: he seems to be missing to "transformational" or "qualitative restrtructuring" aspect. I think a somewhat antagonist question can be posed here: Can autocommunication occur through the transfer of messages in space?
The ‚I-s/he’ system allows one merely to transmit a constant quantity of information, whereas the ‚I-I’ system qualitatively transforms the information, and this leads to a restructuring of the actual ‚I’ itself. (Lotman 2001: 22)
Messages passed along the i-s/he channel have the ability to trigger autocommunication processes, and if such triggering does not take place, the message will have been meaningless to the adressee? In light of studies of power relations: every effect on a subject needs to trigger his autocommunication processes: power works on autocommunication, inserts itself in the I-I channel.
Here we can see that Juri Lotman's understanding of subjectivity (the "I") has become severely outdated (I'm hoping to hear newer perspectives at the conference). His "I" seems to be static and uninvolved with communication until it communicates with itself. It almost seems that this may have been the effect of Soviet power: with other people you censored yourself and only transmitted pre-packaged messages ("Mehed etendasid tervitusrituaali number seitseteist, surusid seejärel kätt" (Remsu 1989: 86-87)). So it might be due to historical conditions that Lotman was inclined to write this way. Or, simply for the purpose of explicating complex subject matter, he depicted a static subject. Lotman's vision of subjectivity could merit further study. Lyhiyhendus comments that communication triggers autocommunication. This comes close to my earlier statement that "autocommunication precedes, companies and succeeds communication." On power working on autocommunication a lot more could be said, and hopefully lyhiyhendus will say something more on this in his presentation. For my purposes it makes perfect sense, because power "structures" behaviour largely through what Scheflen calls "self-censure".
Simultaneous transmission along two communication channels is not only a property of artistic texts, it is also a feature of culture if we take culture as a single message. We can therefore divide cultures into those where the message transmitted along the general linguistic ‚I-s/he’ channel is predominant, and those oriented towards autocommunication. (Lotman 2001: 33)
Cultures oriented towards autocommunication are capable of great activity, but are often much less dynamic than human society requires. (Lotman 2001: 35)
This statements seems a bit paradoxical: if autocommunication is the only phenomenon that enables a subject to transform itself, how can a culture be less dynamic if it is oriented towards autocommunication? It is here, I think that we need to separate autocommunication from self-description, the latter being an outcome of specific autocommunicational processes, while the formes would signify any kind of inner semiotic activity that has the possibility to transform the subject. Self-description forms the subject in one specific mold, autocommunication transforms, and even makes possible the transformation of, the subject.
Here I must pay some well-deserved lip-service to pluralities. Lotman takes culture to be "a single message," which is a pretty weird perspective. Birdwhistell, for example, critiqued E.T. Hall for endorsing "George L. Trager's global incorporation of all culture as communication" (1968: 96; my italics). This may be why the semiosphere and perhaps other Lotman's notions as well are touted as "totalitarian". This may be "global incorporation" in work; the significant difference (which makes Lotman's view that much weirder) is that Trager considered all culture as communication, not all culture as a single message. Surely culture is more like a network or even a boggledy-botch [tohuvabohu] of communication. In a similar vain I don't think autocommunication is the only phenomenon that enables a subject to transform itself; the psychological listing of autocommunicative functions should be a testament to that. Yet the contention that self-description (or alternatively: automodel) is only one product of autocommunication is spot on.

Steedman, Marek 2006. State Power, Hegemony, and Memory. In: Shönle, Andreas (ed.), Lotman and Cultural Studies: Encounters and Extensions. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 136-158.

At its most straightforward this translation is the transmission of a message from one person (or culture) to another. One speaker transmits a coded message to another, who must "decode" it to extract the meaning. Lotman contrasts this model with autocommunication, in which the sender and the receiver are the same "person." The underlying semantic content of the message remains the same in autocommunication, but "recoding" transforms its meaning. Lotman illustrates the concept with the example of "diary jottings ... which are made not in order to remember certain things but to elucidate the writer's inner state, something that would not be possible without the jottings" (Universe of the Mind, 21). In such jottings "the message is reformulated an acquires new meaning"; it is "qualitatively transformed." A parallel restructuring occurs in the identity of the diary jotter: in autocommunication, "while communicating with himself, the addresser inwardly reconstructs his essence, since the essence of a personality may be thought of as an individual set of socially significant codes, and this set changes during the act of communication" (22). (Steedman 2006: 143)
Q: How would you view personality as an individual set of socially significant codes? This suggestion is very valuable, because it can be linked with Peirce's "man ≈ sign" formulation. Yet I have not met anyone actually taking this perspective and running with it. Not once. It's one of those quotes that sounds really neat and applicable but no actual application can be found. I'm hoping to do so myself with the notion of "behavioural sphere" but even that is doubtful. Concerning autocommunication, this passage reifies the "generation of new meaning" aspect of autocommunication. There seems to be a mismatch of positions or metalevels here. Does the autocommunicating jotter do so in order that someone else may elucidate his or her inner state? Seems doubtful. And again it is confusing whether this "qualitative transformation/restructuring" is aimed at information or the self. I'd say that the jotter is transforming his or her own understanding of the jotted abbreviation, but here it seems that he or she is transforming him- or herself.
For Lotman this, too, is an instance of autocommunication. Indeed, "culture can be treated both as the sum of the messages circulated by various addressers (for each of them the addressee is 'another,' 'she' or 'he'), and as one message transmitted by the collective 'I' of humanity to itself. From this point of view, human culture is a vast example of autocommunication" (Universe of the Mind, 33). Culture thus organizes a "collective personality with a common memory and a collective consciousness" (34). Below the level of all humanity, partucular cultures are examples of autocommunication. (Steedman 2006: 144)
The last remark makes no sense to me. The vast example (culture as a single message by humanity) is presented by Edna Andrews. But I notice that my own grappling with "global incorporation" was predicted by Lotman and presented as a viewpoint that culture can also be treated "as the sum of the messages circulated by various addressers". It is the "totalizing" tendency to create "now wholes" (as Uexküll purportedly did with his Umwelt) that seems to drive Lotman to view culture as a single message. Later on, as we know, he proposed to view the whole universe of the mind as a single semiosphere.

Märtsin, Mariann 2008. Self and Other in Communication and Cognition: The Role of Auto-Communication and Intersubjectivity in Autopoiesis of Psychic Systems. Integrative Psychological & Behavioral Science 42(2): 208-211.

In the communication the information is selectively chosen from the environment, uttered and understood by the system. Thus, the meanings that give a unique identity to a system are constantly reproduced in the chain of communications between system and its environment. This argumentation can be easily coupled with Valsiner's account of personal and collective cultures that interact through internalization and externalization processes (Valsiner 1998). (Märtsin 2008: 208)
Finally a piece that does not mention or reference Lotman. This paper stems from Niklas Luhmann's theory of self-referential social systems. Here it seems that the function of autocommunication serves to maintain the system's identity. Note that here we are talking about a general system, not necessarily about culture.
Communication is central theme in Luhmann's theory of self-referential systems (Luhmann 2006). The system creates and thereafter reproduces the difference, the boundary between itself and environment in the chain of communications with the surronding (Cooper 2006). The same process of communication is repeated with new references and therefore the self-creation of system is circular. The information which has been processed by the system to define itself in relation to the environment becomes part of the system and is used in autopoiesis as a new state in system's existence. (Märtsin 2008: 209)
Although this is not "Lotmanian", there seem to be same elements as in the semiotics of culture. Namely: the boundary between self and other; and self-definition or the creation of automodels (self-descriptions).
The self is treated as the other in auto-communication, this other chooses the information, utters it, and the self, having observed other's behaviour understands it through acceptance or rejection. However, there is one important difference in this process - auto-communication happens fully inside the system. As a consequence, the information selected makes no reference beyond the system-environment boundary, but the system itself is treated as an environment from which the information is selected. (Märtsin 2008: 209)
This is interesting, because significant differences emerge. Because the system here is abstract and "culture" is a bit more concrete (hah), it seems that auto-communication in the cultural semiotic sense is not limited to the internal system. This is of course a topic that should be contested. Is autocommunication purely self-referential? This is very difficult to answer. There are some hints, though. For example, if Lotmanian autocommunication means qualitative transformation of already available information then indeed nothing "outside oneself" needs to come into play. Yet somehow this seems too limited. Another interesting aspect is that because autocommunication in Märtsin's sense happens fully inside the system, the system itself becomes the environment. If this system is culture, then it makes some sense in that images of the "other" cultures are socially constructed and may lack actual reference; yet empirically this contention falls flat on its face with one word: intertextuality. If the system is a person, then indeed it makes a bit more sense: autocommunication seems to occur fully inside the person. But then a question arises: is it still autocommunication if instead of inner speech it is the case of self talk? Or what about the behavioural aspect: my own behaviour can of course be a sign for me, but so can it be a sign for the external observer.
Following Luhmann, Mascareño understands meaning as actualization of meaningful possibilities [[signs]] that reduces the overabundance of possibilities [[entropy]] in the world but does not eliminate them. Meanings do not exist in the environment, waiting to be used, but become created during the communication between environment and system. Thus, “communication is not a ‘transfer operation’ of meaning” ... but it is co-creation of meaning, that “was prefigured neither in ego’s nor in alter’s mind” (Mascareño 2008, submitted for publication). However, Mascareño suggests that communication does not happen in an empty space, but it takes place in the symbolically generalized communication media [[semiosphere]], which consists of “meaningful constellations of coordinated selectivity, which provide common significances, identifiable themes and complementary expectations” (Mascareño 2008, submitted for publication). This shared space of meaningful possibilities motivates individual’s selectivity in communication, while also being regenerated by individuals as they communicate. In this context it seems somewhat contradictory that Mascareño proposes a lack of intersubjectivity between individuals in the co-creation of meanings. It needs to be kept in mind that intersubjectivity does not constitute an identity between two minds. The shared space of meaningful possibilities out of which certain meanings as actualizations are created does not necessarily have to be characterised by mutuality, complementarity and similarity. It can just as well be characterised by tension and difference as a dialogical opposite of similarity and complementarity (Marková 2003). Nevertheless, there needs to be a shared space of possibilities for the system and environment or for two systems to interact. The system has to extend itself beyond its boundaries towards the other in order to communicate and this is made possible by shared meaning constellations that exist in a society. The system has to operate ‘as-if’ there is some shared space of meanings between self and other, otherwise the understanding as an acceptance or as a rejection cannot emerge (Valsiner 1998). (Märtsin 2008: 210)
Well, now I know why Randviir says that systems theory is like a parallel universe of semiotics. They seem to be talking about matters that have a long history in semiotics (at least the Tartu variety). The first bold note on co-creation of meaning is screamingly lacking in Lotman's understanding of communication: he seemingly ascribes no creativity to heterocommunication. And the second note concerns the ideal/adequate distinction of communication, which is not original in Lotman, but significant. That is, for communication to be possible, there must be some "shared space of meanings between self and other". I wonder if in a similar vain one could claim that there must be some "unshared space of meanings" between the I who writes this and the I who reads this later, for example? Presumably this "unsharedness" comes from the time period in between writing and reading so that when I come acound to read this I have forgotten some old information and learned some new information so that in a very small way, I am a different person by then.

Torop, Peeter 2008. Translation as communication and auto-communication. Sign Systems Studies 36(2): 375-397.

At the core of personal, national, or social identity is the recognition of the boundary between self and other. The boundary not only divides but also unites and thus participates in dialogic processes. To a large extent dialogue within the boundaries depends on dialogue at the boundaries. (Torop 2008: 376)
Between cultural semiotics and systems theory above there's a marked difference in the understanding of boundaries. Systems-thinking boundaries are like stone walls with barbwires on top so that they cannot be crossed; boundaries in cultural semiotics are more like border ditches you can jump over if you wished.
As I have put it before elsewhere it is a process that takes place within a translator's mind, but also within language, culture, and society. A cognitive, linguistic, cultural or social process can take place between minds, languages, cultures and societies, but it can also take place within a single mind, language, culture or society. (Torop 2008: 377)
I wonder if these could be the the levels of autocommunication? They almost seem to accord to Ruesch's scheme as well, if language be taken as a "language group".
Research in the field of translation ethics well illustrates the effort of one area of culture toward self-understanding and self-description. Self-description is a process of autocommunication, and its result can be a self-modelling that fixes the dominants, the principles of unification, and the generative language of self-description. Lotman defined self-modelling (aвтомодель) on the basis of a culture as a whole. "Self-modelling is a powerful means for the 'end-regulation' of a culture, attributing to it a systematic unity and largely defined its quality as a reservoir of information" (Lotman 1970: 420). Lotman sees in culture three types of realization of self-modelling: (1) self-modelling of culture that strive toward a maximal approach to real existing culture; (2) self-modellings that are distinct from the practice of culture and are conted toward the changing of that practice; (3) self-modellings that exist as an ideal self-awareness of the culture distinct from the culture as such. (Torop 2008: 392)
The whole article seemed to be about translation and thus mistitled until this passage on the very last pages. Now I don't even know what to do with these types of self-modelling. I can only note that "a systematic unity" is much better than "a certain unity"...
That which on one level of culture manifests itself as a process of communication and a dialogue between addresser and addressee can be seen on a deeper level as the autocommunication of culture and a dialogue of the culture with itself. It is very important axiologically to see both levels, since autocommunicative processes increase the coherence of a culture, support its identity, and do this with the help of self-modellings. The wealth of a culture is not only in the diversity of texts and events, but also in the diversity of self-modellings of various types in various parts of the culture. (Torop 2008: 394)

List of "variations" ("forms" of self-communication) or simply related terms:
  • autocommunication (J. Lotman; M. Lotman)
  • intrapersonal communicatian (Roberts; Aitken; Brewers)
  • internal dialogue (Bakhtin; Kucznsky)
  • intra-subjective communication (Petrenko)
  • intra-psychic communication (Freud; Perls)
  • self-interaction (Blumer)
  • self-indication (Blumer)
  • self-communication (Key)
  • self-control (Peirce)
  • self-censure (Scheflen)
  • self-presentation (Goffman)
  • self-denial (Goffman)
  • self-mortification (Goffman)
  • self-reflection (Mead)
  • auto-affection (Mead)
  • self-motion (Bulwer)
  • introspection (Tichener)
  • Selbstbeobachtung (Wundt)
  • proprioception (Sharrington)
  • kinesthesia (Bastian)
  • Ego-Ton (Uexküll)
  • selfing (James)
  • self-description (Lotman)
  • self-interpretation (Merrell)
  • self-understanding (Foucault)
  • self-construction (Foucault)
  • epimeleia heautou ("Care of the Self")
  • nosce te ipsum / gnōthi seauton ("Know Thyself")


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