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…
…Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day respectively, are nothing if not our collective will to the Good.
Therein we celebrate abundance, all that is good and desirable, renewal and hope.
During most of the intervening year in the Western Hemisphere we’re consumed with pursuit of the Good, i.e., the means toward the ends (of Good).
The Good is sacred unto us therefore it is revered on “holy days.”
We relegate Goodness to the realm of the Gods and celebrate our own Good fortune as a manifestation of the favor (purification) of the Gods.
Truth is subservient to Power.
If Animals lived in a world of symbolic meaning and knowledge we might soon be living on a Planet of Apes. Some higher species may in fact have a cursory grasp of symbolically connected reasoning.
However for the most part Animals are guided by instinct and stimuli in the present and therefore unlikely to take over the Planet anytime soon. Wild Animals have evolved as a consequence of natural conditions and represent an adaptation between what is possible and becoming prey.
Domestic Animals on the other hand have been separated from their natural condition and transformed for the benefit of Humankind. Animals which are docile, tame, and a source of labor or production serve the purposes of Humankind better than animals which are aloof, wild, and adapted for survival.
We Humans owe our dominance of the Planet to the word, i.e., symbolic language and technology. It is this which frees us from the constraints of nature. Through symbolic language and technology we are able to perceive our natural condition and to “improve” thereupon.
However ”progress” does not end with the domestication of animals alone nor with innumerable technological advances. The process of controlling our circumstances continues amongst ourselves through the word.
Throughout human history the word (subjective language) has been used to overpower and enslave the masses as technology is consolidated into the hands of the few, such that the masses of Humanity are today are simply domesticated chattle – docile, apathetic, and complicit in their own status.
Even if it were possible to communicate with a domesticated animal which was destined for the slaughterhouse as to its status and condition, it is unlikely that any words one might conceive to persuade such an animal – for it’s own benefit – would fall upon ears unable to hear and a creature so ignorant and apathetic as to be incapable of listening as it lazily chewed its cud staring blankly into empty space.
Such is the plight of the contemporary “common sense” maker.
Subjective Annihilation Theory is based upon the concept of subjectivity wherein things and conditions are subject to other things and conditions. More specifically, Subjective Annihilation Theory, or “SAT,” applies to our rhetorical human-symbolic quest for “un-subjectivity” (a state perhaps more commonly conceptualized as “utopia” or “paradise”) wherein we continuously strive to reduce our subjectivity to other things and conditions within our natural and socially-constructed worlds.
We have adopted a more primal definition of “subjective” in the title of our theory in order to preserve an uncommon approach to meaning as well as for aesthetics of syntax. The Merriam-Webster definition we have adopted is as follows: Subjective adj. “…relating to, or characteristic of one that is a subject especially in lack of freedom of action or in submissiveness.” For the sake of argument it is assumed herein that everything is subject in one way or another to other things and conditions in as much as everything’s connected (Axiom: 4).
Our SAT model (Appendix I) illustrates four general phases of action within the realm of subjectivity: Acquisition, Control, Synthesis, and Potentiality.
Appendix I provides a top-down perspective of our SAT model which is also a conical representation but therein appears as a two dimensional disc divided into quadrants of action.
(Appendix II) provides the conical perspective of our SAT model wherein the cyclical motion indicated in Appendix I is viewed horizontally. The arrow encircling the cone represents either a net increase (upwards), or decease (downwards) in potentiality or empowerment. The vertical arrow indicates the direction towards annihilation of subjectivity at the apex of the cone.
Appendices I and II are analogous to all evolutionary processes, however for our purposes they apply more specifically to human-symbolic evolution. We first examine SAT as an analog to inanimate evolution, then in relation to biological (animate) evolution, and finally in relation to human-symbolic evolution.
Ever since the “Big Bang,” the Universe has continuously morphed from a singularity into an expanding amalgamation of opposites coalescing out of disparate clouds of hydrogen and helium into increasingly complex forms of matter and energy according to various laws of physics.
As differential pockets of mass coalesce gravitationally, matter and energy congeal to form “celestial bodies.” This process is analogous to the Acquisition phase of our SAT model (Appendix I). Once particles become implicated within the matrix of a celestial body they become subsumed within it’s gravitational influence or Control.
Once under the gravitational control of the celestial body Synthesis becomes possible as particles combine and recombine to form ever newer particles and elements. Heavier elements differentiate themselves from lighter elements which coalesce or radiate according to laws of physics. The net effect of these processes is Potentiality (expressed as either a net gain or loss of matter/energy).
What was once a relatively random mass of particles has acquired a net gain in potentiality as a celestial body of greater gravitational influence and a correspondingly higher rate of acquisition. In this manner potentiality is a function of acquisition, control, and synthesis. Instability in the control phase can negatively impact the synthesis phase corresponding to a net decrease in potentiality. Net potentiality in turn impacts the acquisition phase either positively or negatively as the cycle continues.
Animate creatures likewise acquire energy in the form of organic matter, control matter within their internal organs, synthesize matter into useable energy through digestion and metabolism thereby rendering it as a source of energy for continued growth and reproductivity (potentiality).
Appendix I is analogous to all processes within animate nature such as the utilization of physical space wherein animals acquire territory through dominance or by marking it with signs of their presence. By defending (controlling) acquired territories through physical presence and resistance to intruders they render said territories useful (synthesized) as means to higher ends (potentialities), e.g., food source, procreation, shelter, etc.
Although the cycles of acquisition-thru-potentiality are analogous to inanimate, animate, and symbolic evolution, the concept of “annihilation” (which Richard M Weaver, in his Ethics of Rhetoric might refer to as a “God” term) is much less relevant to natural evolution than to symbolic evolution.
When we use the term “annihilation” in conjunction with “of subjectivity,” the connotation is that of a highest positive “value” term, hence the “God” term – annihilation. If we were to construe the term “subjectivity” as desirable, “annihilation” in this sense would assume the connotation of a “Devil,” or negative term, according to Weaver.
From our “evolutionary” perspective we assume the Universe is neutral with respect to “value” judgements, therefore natural evolution should neither be motivated, nor pre-disposed towards, nor against “annihilation.” From a scientific perspective the Universe appears more likely to eventually “evaporate” – due to the ravages of entropy – and or be recycled within an endless matrix of multi-verses thereby remaining to one degree or another, subject to other things and conditions.
The God term “Power” is less applicable to inanimate or animate nature then to human-symbolic evolution (which appears synonymous therewith) since the Universe is ostensibly self-contained and therefore cannot spontaneously increase its net “power” i.e., potentiality even if it desired to.
Therefore the Universe, inclusive of its non-symbol using inhabitants, appears to exists in a relative state of entropic homeostasis. Should humans achieve annihilation of subjectivity as subordinate within the Universe we then would need to re-examine how any part of an ostensible whole can achieve independence (un-subjectivity) therefrom.
Any relationship of a “thing” to any other “thing” is subjectivity no matter how distant or remote. Time-space is subjectivity. Any word, symbol, thought, or motive is subjectivity. Any-thing, every-thing is subjectivity (with varying “gravities” thereof). We cannot conceive of absolute un-subjectivity through language since in order to do so we must conceive of it in terms of something which it is not. A true state of un-subjectivity has no opposites and therefore would not require thought; it would not “require”!
Subjectivity in inanimate nature ostensibly poses no “problem” for itself, e.g., what measure of “distress” do elements suffer as they are drawn into the body of a super-massive star, thereby becoming subject to unimaginable pressures and heat for billions of years, only to be violently expelled into the mind-numbingly-cold, indifferent gloom, of space?
Animate nature however, is subject to extinction, death, starvation, malnutrition, physical discomfort, disease, etc., etc., and therefore continuously seeks to avoid or reduce subjectivity thereto. Millions of years of evolution have given rise to ever more complex creatures trough natural selection and successful reproductive strategies thereby reducing subjectivity to extinction. As long as a species passes on its genetic code and continues to survive, said species has – in effect – “annihilated” subjectivity to extinction (although remaining subject to other things and conditions such as annihilation due to a collision of its planet with an extra-planetary object or any other cataclysmic catastrophe).
In order to evolve, individuals within a species must not only survive but successfully reproduce, this is achieved through: acquisition, control, synthesis, and potentiality. Plants acquire pollen and animals spermatozoon, these fertilizing agents are stored (controlled) within the internal reproductive structures of the organisms where the genetic material is synthesized into new progeny which represent greater potentiality towards continued survival of the species.
Plants acquire water, light, and nutrients, and control said elements within their cellular membranes, synthesizing said elements into useable energy through photosynthesis thereby rendering said elements available for continued growth and reproductivity (potentiality).
An organism becomes more adept in the reduction of subjectivity as it rises in the hierarchy of evolutionary successes, those lower on the “food chain” are more subject to other things and conditions (we might argue here that in fact the lowest forms of life are less susceptible to extinction than the more highly advanced, however we are referring to the more dominant within species as well as the most dominant of species, either of which may potentially evolve to achieve technological dominance).
Therefore, as long as evolution allows for an advancement in the sophistication of a species and technology arises as a result, technology will dominate over natural evolution (Axiom 25). Those higher in the food chain are more (potentially) adept at avoiding various subjectivities due to their higher level of sophistication and mobility.
Amongst animate creatures we humans are by far the least subject to our natural conditions due to our symbolic-evolution (a systemic catastrophe not withstanding).
Of greatest significance in our exploration of human action as a function of human purpose is our human symbolic-evolution towards annihilation of subjectivity and it’s implications within contemporary and future social action. Our examination of inanimate and animate evolution in relation to SAT serves as a conceptual point of departure from which we may view human symbolic-evolution as an evolutionary extension of natural evolution.
Sometime during the development of early tools, sounds, and gestures, and the rise of the first purely abstract symbol, our evolution towards annihilation of subjectivity emerged due to our ability to conceptualize abstractly. No longer were we constrained to the “here and now,” nor the constraints of a sign and its referent, we could now manipulate subjective symbols to re-present abstract concepts such as that of space-time.
Non symbol-using animals exist and evolve only in the present according to natural laws, therefore they exist in a relative state of equilibrium (with little vertical advancement in relation to subjectivity (Appendix II)), even though evolution itself appears predisposed to a natural progression towards tool-using and it’s implication in the annihilation of subjectivity.
As a species progressively evolves, it’s upper boundary (Appendix II) slowly advances toward the direction of annihilation. However in the absence of symbolic language it would be highly improbable that any species would obtain the capacity to become sufficiently aware of it’s subjectivity so as to intentionally re-engineer it’s environment.
In all the Universe there is only one species known to have unlocked the Pandora’s Box of symbolic-evolution, and in doing so, unloosed upon itself a war of words, a flurry of actions, endless controversies, and an exponential rise in the symbolic as we rush head-long towards our undefined, and, perhaps up until this moment, un-acknowledged goal of un-subjectivity (Appendix II).
Symbols don’t merely enable us to become aware of our subjectivity, they also provide a technology for systematically categorizing things and ideas which can be recalled and recombined into new ideas and technologies. We are able to recall past circumstances and methodologies which were more efficacious thereby accumulating a knowledge-of-technique (technology) as a weapon against subjectivity.
We are able to reflexively contemplate our natural and social circumstances and in doing so proactively pursue strategies and technologies which reduce our subjectivity within these environments, thereby rendering them less dangerous, more cooperative, more productive, and thus more empowering.
Although contemporary symbolically-constructed reality appears well rooted in biological motives such as food procurement, shelter, safety, and sex, such natural exigencies have long since been subsumed within the “Political” – due to symbolic evolution – as actions governed by master narratives of “Good” vs “Evil” under the rubric of “super-nature,” or the Supernatural.
There are “good” and “bad” technologies in the creative art of living, e.g., tribe A may discover “cooperation in hunting” as a “good” technique while tribe B may discover “cooperation in pillaging” as their “good” technique, where one tribes “Good” becomes another tribe’s “Evil.” It is ultimately through the power of persuasion, i.e., through symbolic-representation, that “knowledges of technique” come to dominate as “Good,” or as “Evil.”
Wherein our pre-symbolic ancestors prevailed by physical strength and dominance, we rise in the social hierarchy through symbolic domination (the art of rhetoric), according to Kenneth Burke, by “minimizing pollution and maximizing purification.”
As symbol-using animals we acquire knowledge (of technique) which is memorialized (controlled) in systems of signs, symbols, and semantics. We synthesize new meanings and possibilities of action out of symbolically memorialized technologies thereby reducing our subjectivity within nature and society while ascending within the social hierarchy (potentiality). As we continue to reduce our subjectivity to nature (and ourselves), we ascend ever closer to annihilation of subjectivity (Appendix II)
Since for us there is no longer any “natural” way of being in the world (Axiom: 21) due to the rise of the symbolic, every human act/action is circumscribed by symbolic meaning which is governed by Political authority and legitimized through Supernatural master narratives (Appendix III).
Our symbolically created conscience has made us acutely aware of ego in relation to culturally specific knowledges of “good” and “evil.” If we are to rise in the social hierarchy, we must either conform as much a possible to dominating master narratives of “Good” or we must successfully re-define them.
All human energy is thus reducible to symbolic-action through which we seek to reduce and eliminate subjectivity through rhetoric and persuasion, thereby rising in the social hierarchy through, acquisition, control, synthesis, and the potential of technology.
In general SAT describes processes in both nature and symbolic evolution whereby things evolve from the simple to the complex. In nature the equivalent of un-subjectivity would be “evaporation” of the known Universe, which according to Quantum Theory, is plausible.
We are less concerned with the fate of the physical Universe than the fate of humanity as a model in our search for human purpose since the whole of human symbolic-evolution is merely a blip in the continuum of time and evolves at an exponential rate and, having been subsumed therein, there is no escaping.
Whether or not it actually possible for humans to achieve annihilation of subjectivity remains unknowable since the question is ostensibly beyond the scope of language. On the other hand, there doesn’t appear to be any evidence to suggest that our will to Power nor to Good will at any time decrease.
If annihilation of subjectivity is in fact the ultimate (latent) motive behind human-symbolic evolution, whether or not it is actually achievable is insignificant for our purposes herein since it is impossible to prove within the constraints of symbolic language (the best we can do is approximate it as some state of not being subject to anything, however we have just described it in relation to other things and conditions – the antithesis of un-subjectivity!)
Alternatively, a conceptual point of annihilation is extremely significant as a rhetorical reference point (as per the Big Bang Theory) in that it allows us to project into the future a theoretical point of un-subjectivity from which we may deconstruct human motives and actions – as a function thereof – to the present moment where sign-ificance is the essence of becoming.
Since the only time of consequence is the present, it is significant to understand the anatomy of “present” subjectivities in relation to the past and our evolution
towards future annihilation, particularly if said subjectivities are the motives for everything we think, do, and say, i.e., our co-created social reality.
SAT provides a model for conceptualizing the nature of motives in relation to subjectivity. Whatever “action” is occurring is ultimately motivated by the desire for reduction and latent elimination of a subjectivity on behalf of it’s actor.
Every “action” is symbolically encoded as meaningful and therefore significant and of consequence to all symbol users (Axiom: 4 &17). Whether a given “action” is in the acquisition, control, synthesis, or potentiality phase it has the net potential of either empowering or enslaving it’s actor, other individuals, and/or humanity at large.
The prisoners which were hypothetically chained to the wall in Plato’s cave and were constrained to observe only the shadows cast by the real objects are analogous of common-sense making wherein empirical sensory stimulation and coloquial knowledge becomes the primary basis of knowledge and meaning.
A prisoner or prisoners which are released from their constraints and able to move about freely thereby observing a more complex structure of connectivity and meaning with respect to the shadows and objects is analogous to uncommon-sense making.
The disparity between a common sense orientation and an uncommon one is exemplified by a prisoner which escapes the cave only to find a much more complex reality than that of the contemporary slaves still bound within the cave.
Upon returning to the prisoners in the cave, the now more enlightened one must surly seem insane to speak of things which are unfamiliar and seem to make no sense, particularly to the contemporary slaves which can plainly see the simple truth right before their eyes.
In the most primal and simplistic social arrangements a common-sense orientation to sense making is essential. As society and technology becomes increasingly complex, a common-sense orientation to sense making becomes archaic and obsolete whereas an uncommon-sense approach is essential. Hence our title: Uncommon Sense.
A common perception of money might be that if is merely a passive and facile method of exchanging value (B-o-o-o-o-r-i-n-g).
An uncommon perception might be that money is the lifeblood of all civil societies, and whomever controls it symbolically, controls the destiny’s and lives of everyone who’s been coerced into its usage.