The third of three meditations (on my blog) on the problem of lying as integral to social communications, at the always interesting: The Electric Agora. (And thanks to both Dans for publishing it.)

The Electric Agora

by E. John Winner

The basic claim of this essay is that jokes and lies share similar semiotic structures, both originating in play, and both playing upon audience expectations, by effectively creating a fictitious ‘model world’ of signs that reassure the audience that their expectations will be met (or, in a situation of openly comedic performance, that they will be disappointed in an amusing way).  (Indeed, I may go so far as to say that the only difference between a good lie and good joke, is that liars never reveal to the audience that they’re lying.)  I do this by first critiquing a joke relayed by Umberto Eco, and then explicating a brief passage by Eco on semiotics and lying.  In order to press the investigation, I will write in somewhat stronger terms than my source material suggests, because I am trying to establish a framework for interpretation.  A complete…

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