Week 11 Blog Post:

Hello class,

I never considered the vast implications of symbols until reading this article. Symbols, indexes, and icons have been part of humanity’s method of communication since the beginning. Specifically focusing on Peirce’s idea, that for each sign there is an object it represents.

”Of Peirce’s many ways of distinguishing signs, the symbol/index/icon triad focuses on the relations of signs to their objects: symbols have a convention-based relationships with their objects…” (Huening, paragraph 2).

Splitting signs into these three categories, or as Perice coined it, the triad, it becomes easier to identify their uses in various forms of media.

I wish to discuss the work The Ordeal of Scentless and its usage of the triad, but more specifically index. There are a handful of scenes where blurred images of shapes are shown, such as the hearts and clubs of cards. To myself, this indicated a reference to poker or blackjack, typical card games you would find in a casino-like environment. Low and behold, the story at that moment shows our narrator in Las Vegas, describing their lack of emotion and feeling of numbness. On top of those shapes, foggy and opaque spheres appear alongside these moments of numbness that are either still or moving very subtly. For presentation purposes, these symbols add to the narrator’s feeling of numbness by appearing to clog up her sense of smell, acting as a sort of scent trail flowing past the screen. This leads to the next sign which this work utilizes very well.

The usage of index in the form of scent trails/tracks is where this work really shines. Colorful spheres appear in key moments of the story where the narrator is experiencing a scent that truly engages them, and they move at a greater pace seemingly coming from a source. Peirce explains this representation:

“Simply put, indices indicate. Indices always point, reference, or suggest something else… Tracks often have a physical, cause & effect relationship, but are not simultaneous with their object. Paw prints left by an animal are tracks; the lingering scent of perfume is a track.” (Huening, paragraph 5).

The title of the work speaks for itself, but the idea that these indices of spheres are representing a track of scent is genius, sparking curiosity for the reader as they wonder what’s creating that scent. I relate this concept to The Witcher novels by Andrzej Sapkowski where the character of Geralt, a character believing he has no emotion, reacting just as intensely to the scent of Yennefer. The narrator follows this thread of curiosity by explaining their feelings when they encounter these scents, giving a deeper meaning for the reader as to why the spheres move in such ways, or why the sphere colors change rapidly in one scene compared to the other. In a sense, this index symbolizes the narrator’s emotions that could not otherwise be expressed in the story. A very interesting train of thought, nonetheless.

Thank you,


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