When we left Lebanon in the summer of 1984, our youngest son, Ramzi, was barely two years old. Even then, one was aware of his fondness, almost an inborn talent, for music and dance. Rhythmic movement, miming, even a bit of burlesque were unmistakably his favorite form of self-expression. He indulged his passions with the abandon and exuberance of a gifted child, oblivious to the havoc of deadly strife raging outside his own enchanted world. Like whistling in the dark, dance was perhaps his own beguiling respite from the scares and scars of war.
Third World filmmakers and scholars should not be forced always to think in a sign system that is not theirs. The question is whether the categories that inform Western semiotics are fully relevant to the analysis of non-Western sign systems. Western semiotics has presumed that its categories can travel across cultures and languages. But language is saturated with the values of its own culture. To think in a language other than one's own is to experience a peculiar form of alienation--a kind of self-exile. Besides, Western semiotics has not developed a strategy to explain the specific mode of transformation required by the Third World context where semiotics should be an instrument of political action. This has been largely ignored and underdeveloped. It is now imperative to formulate Third Cinema semiotics in terms of its relation between Third World concepts and its own artistic mode to develop forms of explanation that account for its specificity.