First step – Understanding language, meaning, and context; what is the meaning of “making America Great again”?
Beginning with the word ‘America,’ if we take a quick peek at a dictionary ‘America’ is defined as a land mass in the Western Hemisphere consisting of the Continents of North and South America. Now we know what we are making great again.
Another peek in the Dictionary describes ‘great’ as something greater than normal or average, therefore we need to somehow make a western land mass greater than > other land masses; this is where the real work begins since there are innumerable ways to make a particular land mass ‘greater’ than the average land mass.
If we are defining ‘greatness’ only in terms of mass, then we have much dredging and or importing of soil and rock in order to prove eminence over any and or all land masses which may currently be greater.
The word or term ‘again’ gives us some clue and perhaps some guidance as to how much soil and rock might need to be dredged or imported, since the term ‘again’ qualifies the term ‘great’ and implies that America once was ‘greater’ therefore all we need to know is how much mass has somehow eroded away and needs to be replaced.
As huge of a task as this may seem, it is very objective and quantifiable; with the aid of GPS and mathematics the problem could be worked out relatively quickly even though the actual work would be quite laborious and time consuming.
If what we are actually doing is working out mathematical proportions, it is a relatively simple task, if all those involved in the ‘making’ are in agreement it would merely be a matter of time and resources.
Yet… we have barely even begun step one (Understanding language, meaning, and context), the most important step if words have meaning.
And as discussed at length in Uncommon Sense: A Theory of Human Purpose, language and meaning are always contextually dependent – the ‘Scene’ in Kenneth Burke’s Pentad: ‘Act, Agent, Agency, Scene, & Purpose.’
Therefore if we take ‘America’ as the ‘Scene’ of the action (Act), the ‘Making,’ part we must consider who is doing the ‘making’ (Agent/s), by what means the ‘making’ is accomplished (Agency), and for what ‘Purpose.’
The term ‘America’ becomes a very broad and abstract Scene or context for the ‘making’ of ‘greatness.’ At this point we may wish to revert back to ‘greatness’ as it relates to mass – something more easily quantifiable and discoverable.
The term ‘America,’ as a broad and abstract context becomes what is referred to in the study of semiotics as a hollow signifier (if we are constrained/committed to Step one, “understanding language, meaning, and context”), the use of an abstract hollow signifier allows it to ‘filled’ it with a vast array of meanings themselves contextually constrained.
To be continued…