The Intersection of Expression and Meaning

I use expression and meaning like other writers, but I have an understanding about them that I can explain through basic set theory.

Expression is presentation. Expression is conveyance. Expression takes effort from the author, and it takes passive observation from the audience. Meaning is dimension. Meaning is essence. Meaning precedes expression for the author, and it succeeds expression for the audience. They are remarkably different.

Expression and Meaning are two different sets (a set in set theory is a collection of objects), and their objects are a collection of communication. Between Expression and Meaning is an intersection where they share some of their objects, and this is a special place for writers.

The following diagram is expressed as “E⋂M” and it means “objects that belong to Expression and Meaning.” The expression “⋂” means intersect.

This intersect is where the shared objects of Expression and Meaning give us literary devices such as metaphor, innuendo, double entendre, double speak, pun, symbol, and so on. I believe that literary devices exploit a relationship between Expression and Meaning. This overlap gives us rich and limitless communication.

I believe that without this intersect, there would be no art. Symbols and other expressions would be meaningless. Art would be taken at surface value. Would this world be orderly or more chaotic?

Some notes:

  1. Propaganda is a communication in which Expression is equal to Meaning (E=M); it does not give room for interpretation.
  2. Some people have a tendency to reside in this intersect — a condition called synesthesia. Maybe we should call it artistry.

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