I used to spend a lot of time thinking about the extension of sense and meaning in time. Objects stir within us preconscious anticipations, rooted in their present appearance but drawing from our personal histories and indicating futures we suppose possible by inferring from their qualities. The phenomenology I read dealt with this using words like protention, intention, retention, etc. And always the doubled complex of the subject-object relation, its presentation of the world and its weighty tug of realness. And then there were the diagrams; I loved the diagrams. This way of thinking about how things acquire sense becomes a bit overwhelming: a thing never merely is. It always is to some often unthought subject. When naive realists point to supposed objective qualities and claim they are independent of subjective foibles, well, they elide the whole cultural apparatus that allows their claims to make sense and be compelling to us, who have been well educated, made scientific and whole.
Of course. Talking about the production of the objectivity of things is all good and dandy and interesting and yes there are three angels on the head of this pin. But the real gutpunching strike comes from thinking about the way we feel about other people. What we anticipate, on a preconscious level, from them. How this also is extended in time, plays on our experience, cultural mores, hopes, dreams, and yada yada. That’s what is interesting. I mean, sure, the crucifix on the wall of the mission where I went to mass as a kid, as an object, unites myriad senses and meanings: the ones that I associate with it, recalling it now; the loathing I feel for the religion it symbolizes; all the other potential recollections people more charitable to Christianity might have felt seeing it, then; the fact that it is now engendering a completely different sort of sense, as an element in an anecdote; maybe even the scientific measurements that might be derived by scientists as they precisely investigated the mass, composition, and taste of the thing, itself, as it was 16 years ago. If each potential meaning one thing might excite in someone is a pinpoint of light, then looking with an eye to all of them, even from one object, burns more than staring at the sun.
But that is far duller than the potential meanings that might be fashioned between people as they stumble about. Friendship, love, hate, antagonism, fidelity, and on and on. I want a diagram for that mess. The ones I can think of have too many dotted lines.