"The bond between the signifier and the signified is radically arbitrary" Page 35
Structuralism, especially the brand that Sausserre promotes, suggests that the language we use to describe ourselves and the natural world is completely and utterly without logic or base. My first thought upon hearing this suggestion was frustration. Immediately I mentally protested, thinking of all our complex linguistic systems--Latin and Greek roots, systems of grammar and syntax. But then the realization dawned on me--Just because something is perceived as a system does not make it any less arbitrary. We've constructed these absurdly specific rules to follow when we speak and write, but they just don't have any rhyme or reason.
This proposition becomes a lot clearer when we take concrete examples into consideration. My favorite is the use of the word "tree". Saussere calls our words and ideas "signifiers" and separates this concept from the actual object and deems that "signified". He complicates things farther when he makes the bold assertion that there is no real correlation between these two. Just because we use the word tree to describe the tall, leafy structure outside our windows does legitimize the usage of the word. Nothing about the letters t-r-e-e speaks of the essence of that which it describes. We have somehow consented, through social contract, to acknowledge these relationships and perpetuate their significance.
Such an assertion warps our perception of reality and art, but Post-structuralism challenges us to take this idea further. Post-Structuralist admit that Saussere's idea are in fact true, but that this implies an even greater subjectivity. They claim that the arbitrary nature of signifiers also means literature is devoid of meaning.
While it may be radical, Post-structuralism seems like the logical conclusion of Structuralist theory. I might not agree with this particular school of thought, Post-Structuralism is a great aid in in understanding its predecessor. Certainly, though, it leaves a lot to ponder.