"The fateful flaw of human semiotics is this: that of all
the objects in the entire Cosmos which the sign-user can apprehend
through the conjoining of signifier and signified (word uttered and
thing beheld), there is one which forever escapes his
comprehension--and that is the sign-user himself.
"Semiotically, the self is literally unspeakable to
itself. One cannot speak or hear a word which signifies oneself, as
one can speak or hear a word signifying anything else, e.g., apple,
"The self of the sign-user can never be grasped, because,
once the self locates itself at the dead center of its world, there
is no signified to which a signifier can be joined to make a sign.
The self has no sign of itself. No signifier applies. All signifiers
"You are Ralph to me and I am Walker to
you, but you are not Ralph to you and I am not Walker
"For me, certain signifiers fit you, and not others. For
me, all signifiers fit me, one as well as another. I am rascal,
hero, craven, brave, treacherous, loyal, at once the secret hero and
asshole of the Cosmos.
"You are not a sign in your world. Unlike the other
signifiers in your world which form more or less stable units with
the perceived world-things they signify, the signifier of yourself
is mobile, freed up, and operating on a sliding semiotic scale from
infinity to infinity.
"The signified of the self is semiotically loose and
caroms around the Cosmos like an unguided missile.
"From the moment the signifying self turned inward and
became conscious of itself, trouble began as the sparks flew
up." Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book, Walker
Percy, Washington Square Press, 1983, p. 107.