I used the link above, Semiotics for Beginners by Michael Chandler in order to understand binary tensions.
- some are gradable and some are not.
- For "dark" to have any meaning you need "light." Therefore they rely on each other.
- one of the opposition is supposed to be privileged. For example, friendly is good and unfriendly is bad.
Gareth Longstaff (lecturer): The key is understanding that they rely on each other and that the other binary make sense of its own position through what it is not – not what it is within the binary – i.e. – I only understand that I am a man on the basis of the fact that 'I am not a woman'. The tension is realised through this fact. So the tension lies between the binary, between the man/woman or in your instances tanned / not tanned – this occurs through language and signification. It is also contextual and discursive in that it is liable to change. The tension lies in the failure of tanned and not tanned to dominate or subjugate one another – each have to have some sort of binary other to make sense. This creates binary tensions and also representational meaning between those forms.