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Roldand Barthes the inductive, Sherlock Holmes, the deductive.

Let us enter a very serious field of contestation, the inductive as opposed to the deductive.

Roland Barthes’s concept of ‘myth’ can be defined by means of the famous example he offers. In a barber’s shop, at the time of the Algerian uprisings and attempted suppressions, he picked up a copy of Paris-Match; on the cover a black soldier, in uniform, was looking up, presumably at the French flag, and giving the salute.

A simple image conveying, on the surface, a simple statement: here is a black soldier saluting the flag. But beyond the simple statement (the level of denotation), this simple signifier carries a wealth of surreptitious meaning (the level of connotation): the blacks are proud to serve the mother country, France; they are dignified and ennobled, and their lives are given meaning, by this service; imperialism is justified, indeed admirable, as it brings order, civilisation and discipline (embodied in the uniform) to the lives of the subject races (‘natives’ being by definition lax, unruly and childlike). In other words, the simple, seemingly innocent and ‘real’ image (black soldiers do, after all, salute the flag of the country they serve).

The arugment here is that this image insidiously communicates at unconscious levels a politica,l deeply reactionary statement. Or unfurl the tricolor and has a closer look at this image it very well might be that  the French flag is ‘presumed’ – then the image could equally well be an irony, a valediction, a challenge or even a joke!

 One also sees what Sherlock Holmes meant in his equally famous first words to Dr Watson
"I perceive that you have lately been in Afghanistan’" (did he deduce this from the slight smattering of grey dust on Watson's right shoe?)

 Holmes was being deductive, and Barthes inductive. Most opinion makers are inductive.

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