On Content and Vehicles

When we look at a TV programme, we can, if we are somewhat perverse, appreciate that we are not looking at, say, a flesh and blood newsreader, but rather at a dynamically illuminated thick glass panel, the screen. Normally, however, we do not see in this way. Normally, we look right through the vehicle that is the screen, to the content, that is the programme we understand ourselves to be watching. This distinction between content and vehicle seems to be unproblematic and commonly understood.

We live in experience. We are subjectivity. I need to find words here.

When we look at a person, and interact with them, are we not seeing through the vehicle of their body, to the content of their experience? Are we not engaging with, tuning into, their flow of experience, rather than their physical form?

But their experience lies forever out of reach.

All we can talk about are vehicles. All we can report on are vehicles. There is no meaningful distinction between content and vehicle, because all we can point to are vehicles, and all that is is content.

This can be directly linked to Ruth Milliken’s notion of the direct perception of language (though her choice of terms is unfortunate).