June 17: sherlock Holmes on the tube

I found myself noticing a middle-aged woman on the tube this morning. She was reading and using a US dollar bill as her as her book mark. On her ankle was a Betty Boop tattoo. I surmised she liked American culture. I thought she probably wasn’t American. I wonder how Sherlock Holmes would have gone about the semiology. In his day society was more homogenous. He would just look at the quality of soil on the boot of a young lady and knew she had been to the Derby at Epsom. He would smell the type of tobacco on the coat of a gentleman and know in which establishment he had acquired it. You see, they didn’t have Tesco in those days. Today most people are emitting scores of signs at any moment: the clothes; the haircut; the post on TikTok or Instagram. They are desperate to belong to this huge variety of freemasoneries, or even sometimes to emit a sign without knowing what it means or that it completely contradicts what they think they stand for. You buy half a pound of signs like you used to buy half a pound of licorice allsorts and you just eat the whole bag. All we can do is try and be the person without qualities, to avoid falling into this pool of burning emblems and insignia. Semiology is pretty much dead.


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