Friday, October 09, 2015

On Che Guevara and semiotics.

Earlier today, The Economist coughed up a social media link to a 2007 article observing the 40th anniversary of Che Guevara's death:

A modern saint and sinner: Why the Che myth is bad for the left

What caught my attention is the word "semiotics," the professional specialty of Italian novelist Umberto Eco.

But it is semiotics, more than politics, that leads teenagers ignorant of the Sierra Maestra to sport Che T-shirts.

After all, I was a philosophy student once.

Semiotics, or semiology, is the study of signs, symbols, and signification. It is the study of how meaning is created, not what it is.

In turn, the 2007 piece links to the original report from 1967, and this prescient ending:

Che Guevara's name is already being classed with that of the Liberator, Simon Bolivar. Latin America's marxist “liberation” has yet to look even likely, but Guevara has died with his reputation intact. From his middle-class Argentinian youth, he became a revolutionary by conviction and profession. With the two Castro brothers he invaded Cuba in the cockleshell Granma, stayed on to help run revolutionary Cuba as minister of industry, then, perhaps growing bored, took his leave of Cuba on a dedicated secret mission to set the continent alight. He failed. But many Latin Americans will go on believing that the legends that will be spun round his Pimpernel existence may one day lead to his picture being hung beside that of the Liberator in Latin American halls.

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