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Journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies / Revue de l'Association Internationale de Sémiotique

Editor-in-Chief: Danesi, Marcel

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2015: 0.275
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2015: 0.661
Impact per Publication (IPP) 2015: 0.191

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Toxic substances, semiotic forms: Towards a socio- and textual analysis of altered senses

Citation Information: Semiotica. Volume 2007, Issue 166, Pages 409–426, ISSN (Online) 1613-3692, ISSN (Print) 0037-1998, DOI: 10.1515/SEM.2007.064, August 2007

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The aim of this article is to discuss the relationship between experiences with drugs and musical/visual experiences using a socio-semiotic theoretical framework. In recent collective research still underway, this topic is already being explored in many directions: first, by showing how sensorial alterations caused by drugs are ‘translated’ into different texts of pop culture, such as songs, video clips, movies, etc.; second, by reconstructing the themes and motivations of many subcultures (hippie, psychedelic, punk) that originated on the basis of an alteration of the senses achieved through the simultaneous use of music and drugs; finally, by proposing some formal similarities — and possible shifts — between music and drug experiences.

In particular, I propose a comparative analysis of four texts that describe different processes of alteration by referring to different drugs: synthetics in A Clockwork Orange by Burgess and Kubrick; hashish in Uccelli da gabbia e da voliera by De Carlo; cocaine in Bright Lights, Big City by Mc-Inerney; and alcohol in Tratado sobre la resaca by Bas. What matters in this comparison is that although they talk about different substances, all of these texts end up proposing, each one in a different way, types of paradigmatic and syntagmatic relations between substances that transcend the substantialistic and traditionalistic distinction between these drugs.

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