2/1/13 – John Durham Peters

Do Clouds have Meaning?

Date: February 1, 2013

Time: 1-2:30pm

Room: Wells 030

sponsored by the Mellon Foundation

John Durham Peters, University of Iowa

Abstract: Clouds are often considered the example par excellence of an entity incapable of signification. Hamlet
toys with Polonius, showing that you make anything you want out of clouds and also thus implying that
there is nothing inherently meaningful about them at all. Recently the pervasive metaphor of ‘the cloud’
in computing and global climate change have made clouds suddenly relevant again to questions about
communication and human-nature relations. What would it mean to take clouds as meaningful or as
media of communication? This talk-a wide-ranging meditation on clouds-tries to think about how
clouds might mean, and more generally, what the relation between media and nature is, and even
more, where the ultimate sources of meaning lie.