Are meaning and meaning-making inherently emotional?

Does meaning exist without emotion?

To state my bias upfront, I am attached (emotionally, how else) to the idea that meaning is inherently emotional, that without emotion there is no meaning. That said, I am not totally convinced of this causal relationship and so I ask, Does meaning exist without emotion?

This question has two (tightly related) strands as I see it, below I have made a poor attempt at beginning to explore each of them.

  1. The Making of Meaning. How is meaning created? Can anything meaningful arise without emotion? That is, can we create without being impelled to do so by some emotional impetus, or discover something that is meaningful through a non-emotive lens?

    Meaning is made in the making of meaning.
    — me, Sunday, June 26th 2022

  2. Meaning Itself. Can we find something meaningful without doing so through our emotions? Can we feel without emotion?

What about where meaning arises by accident? If 10 people read a book, each of them is likely to find in it some meaning beyond what the author intended. Where was that meaning created, in the author or the reader? I say the latter, and there too the meaning arises from emotion. The parts of a book that conjure no feeling (emotion) have no meaning until they show themselves to be relevant to some character of part of the work that does elicit feeling. Feeling is meaning, but is all meaning feeling? and is a lack of meaning therefore a lack of feeling? To answer that depends on letting go of some common memes about what is ‘meaningful’, and what is unfeeling.

Rosalind Roomian’s painting The Mask offers a provocative visual here.

Where, in the relationship between the mind and the mask does meaning emerge? Does the world have meaning beyond what we attach to it? and ultimately, are we able to attach meaning to the world without emotion?