Archive for the ‘Sign Theory’ Category


Sunday, January 14th, 2018


Ted Jones, campus chaplain and English Professor in downtown Denver, doesn’t need more problems. His life has been full of them. More than a few of the clergy seem to think of the church as a sex club, and those who administer the English Department are vipers. Yet, at the beseeching of the spirit of an old woman who appears floating near the stained glass window of St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church, Ted soon becomes involved with Sharon, the deceased woman’s grown granddaughter.

Damaged though she is, Sharon responds, trying to return the steadfast love that Ted offers. After her grandmother died, she lost that capacity in herself and couldn’t find it in any of the people who professed to love her.

Although Sharon and Ted’s trials are multiple, their love forms the crux of the novel. Such love reaches beyond time and space as we normally conceive them, to involve intersecting planes of existence that touch both past and future.

While fiction, and centrally a love story, it is essentially true. My experiences teaching at CU Denver and the Episcopal Cathedral stick very close to the facts. In light of the current #MeToo movement it is most timely.


The novel ends with a vision of meeting Sharon on the fields of eternity:

For a moment, my earthly sight blurred with tears, I glimpsed Sharon and me. We stood on fields of gold, there, where chronos meets kairos, and earthly time rolls into eternity.

Link to Amazon Reading the Signs page. Here you can examine the cover and read some pages of the book.

Signed copies are also available from me. See WRITING page of this site.

Bannon, Deconstruction, v. meaningful readings of texts and life

Monday, February 27th, 2017

Steve Bannon’s love of Deconstructionism has got me thinking that a good dose of traditional sign theory, which dominated Western culture for centuries, would be in order, even if people are not believers. It argues that we can make sense of texts by careful readings, believing that they–and by extension, our lives–have meaning.

When I was earning my Ph.D. in English in the late 70s and early 80s, Deconstructionism was one of the big literary trends that many Miltonists eschewed because it reads every text as essentially meaningless, for all signs ultimately cancel each other out. Those who practice this theory are great at the intellectual gymnastics that such readings require. However, the alternate reality/facts, if you will, that such readings search out and concentrate on, are ultimately destructive to every text (and life itself). Nothing has meaning or purpose in this system, for there’s always chaos and war over dominance.

That, as my study, Perversions, Originals, and Redemptions in Paradise Lost, now an acclaimed book, is not at all true to the traditional semiotic approach of the Great Western tradition, first set forth by Augustine, the first and foremost sign theorist in the West. This system is essentially monistic (not dualistic, as some have thought), for all begins and ends in God. All signs must be read by the signs that God has embodied in both the Old and the New Testaments. Satan who separated himself from Heavenly communion and took many angels and humans with him then mimic, and pervert God’s words, deeds, and actions, forming, you might say, alternative facts and reality throughout the timeline–till the very end, when God steps in and becomes All in All, his monistic system restored. We are required by life itself to learn to read signs correctly and embody the truths of them in our lives if we are truly members of God’s City. If we choose to follow Satan and His opposing City, The City of Satan, or Man after the Fall, we never enjoy the Communion of Heaven, and will end in Hell (according to Augustine). There, nothing truly exists, for existence requires grounding in God, the source of all reality and being, but subsists. Milton, takes the Jewish and more logical tack that Satan and his City will ultimately be dissolved so that God will fully be All in All, his original monism restored throughout the universe (a notion again signifying oneness).

I think a discussion of Augustinian sign theory, while not the only reading of what’s going on politically, would be fruitful in today’s world. Even if one isn’t a believer, the notion that we can discover competing systems, which relate constantly to each other and provide insight into the characters enacting them, is exciting. It seems important to add that my work looks at patterns. I’m not dogmatic or doctrinaire myself, because I think most spiritual systems that I know of look for meaning based on Oneness and Unity with creation and would give value to such patterns. This lies beyond dogma, in my view.

Here’s a link to the study on Amazon. You can look inside to what it’s all about. You can also order a copy, or you can order a copy here ( Many academic libraries will have it too.

Most of my books, take up traditional sign theory in one way or another. I knew my novel, Reading the Signs: A Paranormal Love Story, just published but without much notice so far, was particularly timely, centering on the corruption that infects so many of our institutions, where power and control have become the norm. Such power mongering is embodied in someone who hasn’t hesitated to abuse those beneath him in every way necessary to get and maintain such control, including misuse of sex. Alternate realities, competing narratives, which Trump and company constantly practice, riddle the novel in which my protagonist and his love are trying to survive by reading the signs rightly and moving on. My popular memoir, Baltho, The Dog Who Owned a Man, also refers to Deconstructionism and traditional sign theory.

Thomas Ramey Watson is an affiliate faculty member of Regis University's College of Professional Studies. He has served as an Episcopal chaplain (lay), trained as a psychotherapist, done postdoctoral work at Cambridge University, and was named a Research Fellow at Yale University.

In addition to his scholarly writings, he is a published author of poetry and fiction.