Cyberspace Web





Enter the web.


The cultural code, the reference, the allusion.

Lastly, the cultural codes are references to a science or a body of knowledge; in drawing attention to them, we merely indicate the type of knowledge (physical, physiological, medical, psychological, literary, historical, etc.) referred to, without going so far as to construct (or reconstruct) the culture they express.

Barthes thus presents a somewhat comprehensive, yet equally evasive, definition of a cultural code. To me, a cultural code represents the expression of an inherent characteristic of homo sapiens: Intellectual and physical inertia, popularly known as laziness. Rather than spending the time to come up with a personal, somewhat original or in the very least sufficiently unique view about a subject, most pseudo-intellectuals revel in brandishing their endless references and allusions.

En garde!







(The second pseudo-intellectual seems to be winning, the first one had better move fast.)


(Wow. The second one certainly wasn't expecting that.)


(Uh oh. Yet another blow.)


10... 9... 8... 7... 6... 5... 4... 3... 2... 1... 0... Knockout.

With a final reference from two millennia ago, pseudo-intellectual number one wins tonight's match.

In terms of science, reinventing the wheel truly seems pointless. A technology that has been discovered long ago can be used more efficiently, to everyone's advantage, if its specifics are communicated freely throughout society. However, matters appear to be somewhat different when one considers literature. After a certain style is extensively used by a well-known author (or, in some cases, after an author becomes well-known upon having used a certain style extensively), it makes little sense to claim to have rediscovered said style as a unique way of using language. It therefore seems reasonable to acknowledge certain individuals and genres in literature as "pointers to" specific uses of language. (The use of the word "pointer" will be explained shortly.) However, the fact remains that most people would rather read up on the creative enterprises of the past, and attempt to pass off said knowledge as a substitute for the creative powers which gave rise to said works. This approach, apart from creating an uneasy atmosphere where individuals prefer to criticize one another, also induces a cyclical environment which does not encourage or reward creativity. "Learning" becomes a safe and more viable alternative to "creating", and we end up with ten critics per artist.

The use of the word "pointer" is actually a reference (ptui!) to programming languages, C++ in particular, since this language has highly elaborate ways of playing around with pointers, formally called pointer arithmetic. Basically, a pointer is a way to use an object - an object can be anything as small as an integer, or as large as a spreadsheet detailing the financial transactions of William H. Gates III during the past fiscal year. When dealing with large objects, however, having ten identical copies of the same huge object lying around would constitute a textbook example of inefficiency when one original copy would do. This is when pointers come into play. Whenever a function wants to use said object, instead of creating an individual copy for itself and wasting megabytes of memory space, it utilizes a pointer which is a reference to the location of the huge object in memory. The function whips out the relevant pointer, reads it and learns the object's memory address, runs up to the object, takes a good look at it, finds out whatever it needs, does its math, and spits out an answer. Ten such functions can therefore share the same object through the use of ten pointers which, by themselves, take up very little space. This constitutes an appropriate analogy to cultural codes whereby the pointers stand for author names and C++ objects signify novels, short stories and poems within the realm of literature.

A discourse about pointers and code would be incomplete without the inclusion of a pointer to a code.

Football also contributes to the enterprise of dereferencing (formal term from C++) existing objects. In the case of football, however, this job is up to the game commentators rather than the players. Due to the discrete nature of the game rules, and the somewhat violent nature of the game dynamics, football is prone to frequent pauses. As soon as the game stops, game commentators immediately begin to make full use of their vocal system in an attempt to fulfill their duty of keeping the audience entertained at all times. They critique the gameplay which has just taken place, and compare it to similar (or somehow relevant) games from past seasons. Such references place the gameplay under scrunity in better perspective, and does not harm the concept of football in any way since those interested in the references (the commentators and the audience) tend to be individuals who are unwilling or unable to contribute to the creative aspects of the game, which are not that creative to begin with. Therefore, Barthes' cultural codes are not as destructive for creativity within football as they are for creativity within literature. In football, the destruction is professionally applied by the players themselves, although not upon creativity but rather upon one another. In a manner of speaking, such destruction may, in fact, be considered to contribute to the player's creativity, since uniquely violent styles of play are always appreciated by American football fans.As Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956) once noted, nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public. Appreciation of destruction as a form of creativity is therefore perhaps an exclusively American sentiment. This notion supports the argument that football is an inherently paradoxical game, although it does not change the fact that it's still a ridiculously destructive game.

How destructive can the other codes be?