Lately, while driving through the lovely South Carolina countryside, I've noticed something that makes me furrow my brow. Occasionally one will drive by the property of what must be a somewhat overprotective landowner. On every other tree which borders the road, one will see a sign reading: "Posted: Keep Out" or occasionally a more verbose sign will read: "Posted: No tresspassing, no hunting, no fishing, no loitering, no lawn darts, no croquet, etc."
First, I'm struck by the fact that the sign begins with the word "posted." Well of course its posted, its hanging right there on the tree isn't it? Isn't that the definition of what it means for a sign to be a sign? Why does the sign need to begin by telling me that it is in fact posted to the tree, and not just laying in a drawer?
Secondly, not only does it say "posted," but the word "posted" is usually in a font size 4,000 and the rest of the message of the sign is so miniscule as to be difficult to read while driving. It is as though the true burden of the sign is to tell you that it is a sign, and the matter of the message that the sign is meant to convey is simply tacked on as an afterthought.
While the sign's self-awareness relating to its own signhood is admirable, one might wonder whether or not the sign is experiencing some sort of existential crisis. Is not the very raison d'etre of the sign to be found in the fact that it conveys a message? Is not the definition of a sign related to the fact that it is a medium for conveying a message from the signor to me the signee? How ironic then for the sign to boast of its signicity while neglecting that which makes it so.
Tune in next week for Jeff's thoughts on the sign "Reduced Speed Ahead," and wonder if its really proper to be advertising a sale on illegal drugs.