okay so my blog is sub-par. that does not mean that if you are reading this that you are sub-par, but rather that this site, from a literal, semantic, or a rhetorical sense is flawed. i am good with that. because ultimately the flaws in this site tell a specific story. regardless if i am aware of that story1.

before i go on i want to give a shout out to jonathan collins for sharing at the 2014 story conference. listening to him reminded me I have much to share on this topic. thank you.

you can read his excellent essay on metaphors here.

linguistic semantics

semanticists study the relationship between signifiers (words, phrases, symbols, etc.) and their denotative meanings. in particular to human language it is the study of how we communicate meaning and value through the things we use to communicate. an example would be the use of images at the head of each blog post on this site. they are meant to be symbolic representations of the content contained within. sometimes they are literal (this post); sometimes they are not (this post).

a semanticist may choose to study the content of this site as a coalesced whole and then derive intent and meaning from that which i present. they then could interpret my site as not a cohesive story but a random set of certain things which, once properly analyzed, lead to a certain meaning. so it would not necessarily be the individual pieces of content on this site , but the shared signifiers that tell its story.

from this perspective, one could argue, that my use of capitalization (or lack thereof) is a signifier that de-emphasizes my words to elevate scripture and references to God. thus, the story of this blog is the story of dying to one’s self and elevating God before man2.


i noted back in a previous post (right story. right people.) that i am a rhetorician. that is to say that I studied and got an undergraduate degree in rhetoric. rhetorical criticism is the study of symbolic artifacts and how, and how well they effected an audience (intended or otherwise). to differentiate from semantics, which focuses on the meaning of signifiers, rhetoric puts the focus on the effect of something, not the something itself.

to illustrate, a rhetorician would look at this website, and each post individual, and analyze the various aspects, shared symbols, themes, metaphors, and everything else in it and compare that to other pieces of communication with similar symbolic usage to determine effectiveness and offer insight into it. so one could easily argue that the lack of readership, the lack of topic focus, and the frequency of posts on the blog are limiting factors to effectiveness3.

the story, then, could be seen as a niche blog to a niche audience who shares the same perspective. the uniqueness of the style then is a tool that helps people focus not on intellect and geek things, but on God.


the point of this post is not to show how good or bad this site is, but to illustrate a point. there is as much science as there is art to story telling. take the time to understand the science behind the craft and learn from those who strive to understand why stories work.

1: even the fact that i am using wikipedia as a reference source here tells a specific story – mostly that wikipedia is an acceptable primer source for almost any topic, no seriously it is.

2: this is partially true. it is more a stylistic choice to emphasize God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, and God’s Word above my own, but it was done as a rhetorical choice not a semantic overture.

3: truth be told, this is a fair analysis. this site is unorganized, and is not nearly as effective as I would like it to be.


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