Indexical Disjunctures in Calendrical Ideology, or How June Showers Bring July Flowers


The saying here in Eugene, OR is that April May June showers bring May June July flowers. Yes ladies and gents, it is still raining here. But, this rain has brought about an interesting understanding of the calendar, and how people experience months here.

Let me start by breaking down the title in chunks.

Calendric Ideology- what do we think of when we understand months? For many people, the months do not merely represent time (at least here in Eugene). They also carry with them embodied notions of experience. ‘June’ is not just the time in a linear fashion, but also a sense of bodily experience of warmness (and dryness). Furthermore, because it is about experience of weather, it is tied to the environment. When talking to people about the rain, Eugene is like Toronto in those regards, they always say “this is not very June like! This weather is strange.” Thus, our calendrical identity brings together environment and time through bodily experience.

Indexical disjuncture- Simply put, its when an indexical turns out not to be linked to the thing which it was representing. If we think of indexicals in the Peirce-ian sense, they are signs that are (or were previously) attached to the thing they represent. So, returning to the calendar ideology, June is an indexical of the environment as it is perceived through the body.

To elaborate on our calendrical ideology, we begin to see that based on the way people speak about the month, it is not so much about time as much as it is about the seasonal norms- the weather, and thus the environment- at a specific time. HOWEVER, times like this, when the weather does not line up with our expectations of bodily experience, creates a disjuncture in the mythopoetic indexical. We begin to see how non-indexical it is. Our bodily experience of rain is not ‘June’ like, and thus this time is an anomally. Interestingly, however, the temporal function of the calendar takes precedence (perhaps here we could diverge into a materialist description of capitalism’s need for strict temporalities). Otherwise, as it rains and rains and rains, we would be saying it’s the 63rd of April. What I’m trying to get at, though, is that weather like this shifts the semiotic ideology of months from bodily experience to temporarlity. Interestingly, however, it is not to the degree that we divide time from season- this weather might remind people that the 12 months=1 year=1 seasonal rotation is not some naturalistic fact that the environment sticks to, but it doesn’t. Instead, people comment like “Usually, when it rains this late, it means that the fall will be longer too.”

The question that arises, then, is whether we think of seasons in the same semiotic domain as calendar. I think the answer might be no, but it warrants closer scrutiny. All I can say for now is that the constant rain reminds us that ‘June’ is not so much an experience as much as an enforced timeline in the capitalist regime that has nothing to do with environmental conditions. Once capitalist societies can figure out how to control weather…

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