In the engravings from the Stone Age and the Iron Age found throughout Europe, there are representations of bows and arrows and other vectors directed toward targets. Hunting was an essential activity of the Palaeolithic: people were nomadic, and even with some migratory herding, they subsisted by hunting along the way whilst they were moving about in migration at the change of the seasons.
The vector is the concept that supports the physical representation of a force in mechanics, or an event in time, and it has the canonical form of a pointed arrow or a lance aimed outward; the length of the shaft expresses intensity – or perhaps magnitude – of the force that it is subjected upon it or that impels it. It represents a crystallized movement of an iconic symbol: be it hunting, attacking or any other entwining relationship, a relief.
Barthes, in the semiology of image, speaks of this as analogon, similar to that which it represents, linked immediately to meaning by a non-arbitrary relationship of the same form as the icon for Pierce, which establishes the semantic relationship of the representamen with its object by virtue of certain common qualities .
In the Stone Age and following, space and time were lived in a way that was, at the same time, profane and sacred, with the latter more dominant. Territory was consecrated by symbolic and magical rituals. As Lévi-Strauss points out, systems of classifying societies do not extract common denominators that allow us to bring together the individuality of each phenomenon into sets: if we try to reduce the totemic or mythological system to a rationalistic language, then its true and multiple meaning is lost. From a certain point of view, it can be said that sacred time does not flow: it presents itself as a type of eternal mythical present that man periodically reintegrates by the language of rites. The opposition of sacred/profane is comprised of two elements which, at times, are in opposition and which at others, integrate and reflect human action and thought in the form of mythical representations and social relationships ; sacred time is that which is inscribed in the space: the past and the future are written at the present instant for the person who knows how to read them. There were conflict and warrior battles in the Iron Age in Foz Côa, symbolized in the rocks at Vermelhosa by men wielding sickle-like weapons.
The comet , represented on rock 3 at Canada do Inferno can be interpreted as a vector: a sign composed of straight lines that converge. The vector is also a phallic symbol and the distinction vector/target can be associated with the binary distinction of emitter/receptor and eventually a designation of gender. In biology, vector assumes the place of an element of dispersion and inoculation, for example, as in the mosquito which infects humans with malaria, with the target being the population affected.
The word vector is a noun that means messenger or transporter, taken from the Latin terms vehere and vectum, relating to the verb to transport. The surface is the place of meaning: signs remain devoid of meaning whenever they do not enter the organization of the surface which insures the resonance between two series, two images and two pathways. We may put in opposition to the semiotics of code the semiotics of small perceptions, where the latter would be semiotics which is denied as a sign and which points to that which is the contrary to the sign: force. This contradiction between sign and force is not irreparable and constitutes the core of the tensive structure as a generative modality. The value of semiotic meaning is the value of difference which cognitively organizes the focalized world.
Vectors are a modality of sign whose direction comes from a ratio difficilis: an arrow can determine or counsel, and in this way, signs defined as targets are also vectors. Meaning, in the first place, is a direction since in saying that an object or a situation has a meaning is to say that it tends toward something. In physics, force, velocity and acceleration are vectors and two vectors are equal when they have the same direction and the same magnitude.
The arrow that is pulled back in the bow takes one present instant and condenses it into a future event: the shot will reach its target or it will not. René Thom describes this theme via a symbolic strap that binds the predator and the prey, and which is resolved either in capture or in escape. The symbolic tying referred to here can be extended to a broader field, that of the relationship between two actors, a confluence, and, for example, a sacred wish. From amongst the most salient forms, there are some whose perception has immediate implications for catastrophes of regulation – predation and sexuality – and are designated by biological forms pregnant with meaning for Thom. The target is an attractor and the notion of the attractor generalizes the notion of a stable equilibrium point in a dynamic system.
The vector/target binary can be identified as the intensity/extension pair characteristic of the tensive structure, where the first term characterises the internal domain, interoceptive, which will become the plan of content, and the second term referring to the external domain, exteroceptive, which becomes the plan of expression. Correlatively, it can be said that natural elements in a figuration are focused and understood within two scopes: the energy that they manifest and the space-time unfolding that they are able to achieve. Their position in the correlation space is what constitutes their semiotic value.
The vector and the target are iconic signs – semes – which construct their circumstance of communication and the system that places them in opposition of meaning and thus they can be considered – in relation to the signs which allow for identification – as that which Eco identifies as ideolete.
Anne Hénault. História Concisa da Semiótica (Concise History of Semiotics). Parábola Editorial, São Paulo, (1992, 1997) 2006, pg. 55
Adriano D. Rodrigues. Dimensões Pragmáticas do Sentido. (Pragmatic Dimensions of Meaning) Edições Cosmos, Lisboa, 1996, pg. 49
Daniel Alcoba. Vida e Obra in Lévi-Strauss – vida, pensamento e obra (Life and work in Lévi-Strauss – life though and work). Editora Planeta De Agostini SA, 2008, pg. 50
Alfonso di Nola. Sagrado/profano (Sacred/Profane). Enciclopédia Einaudi: vol.12, Imprensa Nacional Casa da Moeda, Lisboa, 1987, pg. 105
Gilles Deleuze. Lógica do Sentido (The Logic of Sense). Editora Perspectiva, São Paulo, (1969) 2006, pg. 107
José A. Mourão and Maria A. Babo. Semiótica: Genealogias e Cartografias (Semiotics: Genealogies and Cartographies). MinervaCoimbra, 2007, pg. 34
Jacques Fontanille and Claude Zilberberg. Tensão e Significação (Tension and Meaning). Discurso Editorial, São Paulo, (1998) 2001, pg. 29
Anthony J. Pettofrezzo. Vectors and Their Applications. Dover Publications, New York, (1966, 1994)
2005, pg. 4
René Thom. Modèles Mathématiques de la Morphogenèse (Mathematical Models of Morphogenesis). Christian Bourgois Ed, Paris, 1980, pg. 127
Jean Petitot-Cocorda. Physique du Sens (Physics of Meaning). Éditions CNRS, Paris, 1992, pg. 315