-- / --
Capital and capitalism: etymology and connotations
Arsenal and arsenalism: etymology and connotations
Arse vs Ass: etymology and slang
Problematic language for problematic times -- systemic function of "expletives"?
Relation between "capitalism" and "arsenalism" in practice
Nature of a "missing link" between capitalism and arsenalism: role of a "hole"?
Neglected systemic cycles mysteriously encoded in profanity?
Profanity as a compactification of an intuited multidimensional experience
Requisite new language implied by an unconscious secret language?
Towards a comprehensible encoding of higher dimensionality in sexual terms?
Cognitive "three ring circus": capitalism, alternativism, arsenalism?
Mutual entanglement of "capital" and "arsenal" in practice
The discourse between those in favour of capitalism and those critical of it is now a characteristic of those concerned with social progress in general. The criticism of alternatives variously proposed could be said to follow a similar pattern. Both "sides" are comfortable with their understanding of the appropriateness of their own perspective and the dangerously misinformed inefficacy of the other -- readily extended to framing what is opposed as fundamentally "evil".
The difficulty is that capitalism is effectively the dominant system which "works" to a degree. It is faced with a variety of forms of protest at its failure to address the conditions experienced by many, other than through an array of promises. These are not recognized as coming to fruition in the manner claimed or assumed. Both the assertion that it works, and any claims regarding its failure, are themselves vigorously disputed. The pattern could be said to be sterile and unproductive, except possibly as a curiously painful collective learning exercise -- whose benefits are yet to be recognized.
The difficulty for those claiming to offer progressive alternatives is that they are only too characteristically unable to "get their act together" and to demonstrate on a larger scale the appropriateness of their proposal(s). This assertion is of course vigorously denied -- although the failure is only too readily blamed as the fault of capitalism and its nefarious supporters. Progressives are skilled at attributing blame to others and at avoiding any recognition that there may be inherent inadequacies to their manner of operating collectively -- again despite vigorous claims to the contrary.
The discrepancy is perhaps exemplified in the contrast between the World Economic Forum and the World Social Forum. The former could be understood as the exemplary nexus of capitalist thinking and its efforts to promote itself as the unquestionable key to global progress (Cas Mudde, The High Priests of Plutocracy all meet at Davos, The Guardian, 25 January 2020). The World Social Forum could be understood as exemplifying the effort of progressives to articulate alternatives. Unfortunately the former exemplifies the advantages of the capitalist style of "getting an act together", whereas the latter has progressively proven to be a demonstration of inability to do so according to any alternative model. Ironically the coherence of the latter, with the diversity of advocates represented, is primarily provided by a consensus regarding the inadequacies of the former.
Arguably there is little capacity to view these contrasting modalities as reflecting a very human system -- riven as it is by a pattern of "differences", despite expressed appreciation of "diversity". The more subtle insights of complexity theory, chaos theory, and related disciplines, have as yet proven to be totally inadequate to the challenge. That situation is now compounded by the appropriation of these skill sets by the capitalist modality, as demonstrated by the manipulation of public opinion to undermine the ideal of democratic processes -- and by the ever increasing lack of popular confidence in them. More ironic, to the extent that capitalism is framed as "evil" (as noted below), is the sense in which it might itself be understood as a "wicked problem", as this is defined by the policy sciences.
Greater insight could possibly be derived from exploring such human dynamics through other frameworks -- as a psychodrama, a tragic opera, or otherwise, as illustrated separately (All Blacks of Davos vs All Greens of Porto Alegre: reframing global strategic discord through polyphony? 2007; A Singable Earth Charter, EU Constitution or Global Ethic? 2006).
A quite different approach is explored here regarding the nature of any "bridge" between the radically contrasting modalities of capitalism and its proposed alternatives -- with each framing the other as a misleadingly distracting impediment -- if not dangerously irrelevant -- therefore necessitating its eradication. The latter approach could even be explored as problematic in its own right (Eradication as the Strategic Final Solution of the 21st Century? 2014). Is the elimination of capitalism really to be framed as a magical silver bullet? The question calling for exploration is how to get beyond systemic dependence on having an "other" to blame in the event of the inadequacy of the preferred strategy (Collective Mea Culpa? You Must be Joking! Them is to blame, Not us! 2015).
It is assumed here that a viable approach would highlight realities shared by the contrasting modalities but which are in some strange manner both deprecated and appreciated by them. Both deprecation and appreciation are then to be seen as cutting though the conventions of the political correctness that both claim to uphold. In a sense this issue is what is curiously "unsaid" in the discourse of both "capitalists" and "progressives", as discussed separately (Global Strategic Implications of the "Unsaid", 2003)? What is the distinctive feature of the "under the table" discourse practiced by both?
Succinctly stated, the argument here is that the discourse focused on "capitalism" -- or on opposition to it -- implies a strange relation to what might be termed "arsenalism". Etymologically capitalism is an exercise "of the head" -- skillfully neglecting what can be recognized metaphorically as other features and processes of human physiology which may suffer from its excesses. It could however be considered supremely ironic the extent to which these "other" processes feature in the language and preoccupation of both capitalists and progressives -- covertly, if not overtly. The fact that "arsenalism" is of dubious origin, and a questionable neologism, is arguably indicative of the potential validity of an approach relevant to any reframing of the currently sterile discourse between capitalists and progressives.
The potential relevance is more obvious in the curious relation between "capital" and "arsenal" -- given the overt nature of the former and the secretive nature of the latter. Potentially more curiously relevant is the association to much-valued game-playing offered by "arsenal", given its iconic relation to both football and armaments.
A major emphasis here, in the clarification of "arsenalism", is the neglected systemic insights which might be derived from the conventional use of profanity at all levels of society -- most notably at the highest levels of government. At the time of writing this is usefully illustrated by the declaration of the arch-capitalist, President Trump, that the efforts to impeach him had all been "bullshit" (as noted below). Is there something fundamental to be learnt from this style of communication -- despite the tendency to frame it as the very absence of style? Why do those worthy of the most respect have recourse to that style, and why do others -- similarly worthy -- deprecate such usage, even when their initiatives are ineffective?
From a systemic perspective, few would challenge the need to process human waste. It is clearly ridiculous to endeavour to prevent its daily production. Are the efforts to completely prohibit profanity to be considered equally ridiculous -- when what is required is attention to appropriate "sanitation systems" through which it can be intelligently processed? However, rather than the "conceptual sanitation" described by a reviewer as the focus of the seminal philosophical study by Harry Frankfurt (On Bullshit, 2005), the concern here is with the unconscious systemic insights profanity may embody. Are there vital learnings to be derived from the necessary attitudes and skills of the psychosocial analogue of sanitary engineering -- distinct from the knee-jerk distaste for its preoccupation?
As a noun, "capital" (as distinct from "capitol") pertains to the "head" or "top" in some way. Most notably it can refer to the capital city of a country (or region) or to capital understood in economic terms. In the latter case it refers to the assets that can enhance the power to perform economically useful work, however that is understood.
Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit. A variety of forms of capitalism are distinguished: advanced capitalism, corporate capitalism, finance capitalism, free-market capitalism, mercantilism, social capitalism, state capitalism, and welfare capitalism.
Capitalism is the focus of a very extensive range of criticism, most notably with respect to: profit motive, wage slavery, Marxian critiques, environmental sustainability, supply and demand, and externalities. Critics associate the economic system with social inequality; unfair distribution of wealth and power; materialism; repression of workers and trade unionists; social alienation; economic inequality; unemployment; and economic instability.
The etymological association with the head, is consistent with commentary suggesting that the divisive strategic crisis of the times derives from an inability to reconcile the differences between the "heartless heads" and the "headless hearts". More specifically the economist Paul Collier has argued, for example, that: the debate on migration is polarised into two strident positions, a heartless and the headless (On Immigration, Head to Head: Al Jazeera, 7 August 2015).
Capitalism as evil? Capitalism is frequently framed as essentially evil, as in the conclusion of a film by Michael Moore (Capitalism: A Love Story, 2009) as variously reviewed (Chris McGreal, 'Capitalism is evil … you have to eliminate it', The Guardian, 30 January 2010; Mike Collett-White, "Capitalism is evil," says new Michael Moore film, Reuters, 6 September 2009). One structured commentary introduces an elaboration of the argument:
But many more people than just Michael Moore have thought deeply about whether Capitalism is Evil, and the arguments and evidence, when laid out (as I will shortly do), demonstrate that Capitalism is indeed evil, by any reasonable definition "evil." In other words, Capitalism is not just evil, it is VERY evil -- or, we might say, Capitalism can be proved Evil beyond a reasonable doubt. (Why Capitalism Is Evil, Daily Kos, 2 January 2010)
One difficulty in the widespread reference to "evil" is that it is increasingly used uncritically to label any strategy or group which promotes initiatives contrary to what the labeller advocates (Existence of evil as authoritatively claimed to be an overriding strategic concern, 2016; Framing by others of claimants of evil as evil, 2016). It is now normal for opposing political parties to label each other's approach as "evil" on occasion. Those opposed to capitalism thus evoke that framing for themselves.
For Michael Albert (Parecon: Life After Capitalism, 2003):
[C]apitalist globalization produces poverty, ill-health, shortened life-spans, reduced quality of life, and ecological collapse...Humanity's well-being does not guide the process, but is instead sacrificed on behalf of private profit.
For Joel Kovel (The Enemy of Nature: The End of Capitalism or the End of the World? 2007):
1. Capitalism tends to degrade the conditions of its own production.
2. Capitalism must expand without end in order to exist
3. Capital leads to a chaotic world-system, increasingly polarized between rich and poor, which cannot adequately address the ecological crisis.
The combination makes an ever-growing ecological crisis an iron necessity so long as capital rules, no matter what measures are taken to tidy up one corner or another.
More reasoned commentary? For Maarten van Doorn of The Understanding Project:
Everywhere I go, I’m within earshot of someone ranting about capitalism. How it’s to blame for all the issues in the world -- and in the angry person’s life.... If you give the same reason for every issue -- global warming? capitalism; the financial crisis? capitalism; my divorce? capitalism -- that warrants suspicion about your thoughtfulness. So frankly, this anti-capitalism attitude has always struck me as lazy thinking. Blaming ‘capitalism’ is hardly specific enough to identify the deficiency, let alone to work out a well-supported solution. (So You Think Capitalism Is Evil: going behind the curtain, 25 January 2019)
Van Doorn orders his inquiry in terms of the following headings:
Anti-intellectualism? Other commentators note the criticism by early predecessors of Karl Marx (The Evils of Capitalism). The difficulty with all the forms of criticism of "capitalism", especially that of Marx, is that it is far from clear that rational analysis is capable of engaging with experiential reality and the systems in place with which many are variously complicit.
The leader of the free world, Donald Trump, has managed to demonstrate through his actions (and the criticism they evoke) that global discourse has moved into a surreal phase -- a post-truth era -- in which rational commentary can be ignored, treated as irrelevant, or framed as based on fake news (Towards articulation of a "post-truth table"? 2016; Surreal nature of current global governance as experienced, 2016; Varieties of Fake News and Misrepresentation: when are deception, pretence and cover-up acceptable? 2019).
To the extent that promotion of capitalism is now conflated with globalization, it is appropriate to note how criticism of globalization -- as a "backlash" -- is now conflated with anti-intellectualism (Arthur E. Appleton, Stop Blaming Globalization: most problems are homemade, The Globalist, 16 February 2020). The latter argues that:
At the core, though, the backlash against globalization is misdirected. In most cases, the primary reason for the electorate’s frustration is the inequality of economic opportunity within countries.... Regardless of the causes... most people would agree that inequality of opportunity has marginalized large segments of the population in many countries.... For politicians, long-term thinking has been overtaken by short-term political opportunism. It is easier politically for politicians to blame “globalization” -- instead of acknowledging the severe policy errors they have made at home.... The fight against globalization and the resistance to globalism is at its heart a contemporary form of anti-intellectualism.
In this surreal context, how best to trace any links between "the head" and "the arse"? One incidental indication is common use in formal discourse of statistics "per capita" -- matched in the entertainment and conference industry with a preoccupation in informal discourse with "bums in seats". There is seemingly no statistical equivalent to "per arse", although the term may be used as a deliberately provocative susbstitute for "per capita". (Ironically optical character recognition errors may result in "per arse" featuring in search engine results as an erroneous indication of "per acre")
Arsenal: armament store: A point of departure is the contrast between "arsenal" and "capital". Whereas an armory is a special military building where weapons and ammunition are kept; the origin of arsenal from 1570 is as a place for making and storing weapons.
Arsenal: weaponry resources: As noted with respect to arsenal (World Wide Words), the term has a complex history, encompassing its use to refer to a naval dockyard and the military vessels docked there -- later restricted to a facility for storage and repair of weapons of all kinds. The further development was a reference to whole collections of weapons, irrespective of whether they were stored in the same facility. Hence the phrase nuclear arsenal. Hence the reference of the commitment of nuclear powers to "eliminate their arsenals" -- as a consequence of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.
However, as noted by Daniel Philippus: We have distributed public arsenals already. We call them civilian gun owners (Should Public Arsenals be considered by the United States? Quora, 15 October 2016).
Arsenal: football club: The famous London football club (1886), Arsenal -- as the "home of football" -- was named for the Royal Arsenal, where the original players worked. Purchased, as with other famous football clubs, it offers an intriguing insight into the relation between "arsenal" and "capital" through those, such as Alisher Usmanov, who have sought to own and control it (Ian Cobain, The colourful life of football's latest oligarch, The Guardian, 19 November 2007).
Arsenalism and Arsenalists: Both the connotation of weaponry and that of football have resulted in an extension to include enthusiasts in both instances:
The apparently radical difference between these domains is called into question by the extensive literature on the mutual interaction between the military and sport, and the extensive use of metaphors from each in the other (Carla Pérez López, A Comparative Study of War and Sport Metaphors in Political News Headlines, 2018; Danica Pirsl and Nebojsa Randjelovic, Military Metaphors in Sports Language in Media, 2015). This has further implications (Enhancing Sustainable Development Strategies through Avoidance of Military Metaphors, 1998; Beyond conventional game-playing? 2016).
Of some relevance to this argument is the articulation of "arsenalism" offered by Andrea Ostrov (Vitalism, Not Traditionalism, is the Key to the Future Daily Andrea, 13 March 2018):
‘Traditionalism’ connotes rigidity, fixedness, dogmatism, predictability, and lack of spark. Perhaps, ‘Arsenalism’ is closer to what we need. An arsenal is filled with stockpiles of weapons, but what we do with them is incumbent on the needs of the moment. So, if there are guns, bombs, missiles, bazookas, tanks, trucks, and copters, there is no fixed rule that demands that such-and-such items be used in such-and-such way. Everything in the arsenal is of use, but we decide what should be used and how depending on the nature of the challenge. In contrast, Traditionalism suggests that we stick to a successful strategy used in the past. But what if the times have changed, and the enemies have adapted to a new strategy? Suppose the once-successful strategy using certain weapons in certain way will no longer work. But the traditionalist will demand that the Proven Way still be used. What if it fails against the New-and-Improved enemy with new tricks up its sleeves? The traditionalist remains adamant and insists that the Old Way is the Only Way because it and only it is the right way. This is sure to fail in the long wrong because every method or system, however effective in certain ways, has weaknesses. It’s like the Greek phalanx system that worked so well for so long didn’t work against the Romans who came up with more effective and adaptive means of combat.
Given the importance of military arsenals, and the importance of "weaponry" metaphorically understood in a competitive social system, there is a case for recognizing "arsenalism" as the cultivation of beliefs in the latter respect. Nuclear arsenals are but the most obvious physical instance of this at the global level, complemented by a wide range of military "assets".
There is little difficulty in recognizing the extent to which analogous beliefs are cultivated in relation to the human genitalia as "assets" in competitive interpersonal relations -- most obviously as implied by "size matters". Reference to having "big balls" is readily appreciated with respect to risk-taking in business and the military.
The confusion of these connotations is variously evident (Golden Globes Confusing Cleavage, Hype and Hypocrisy, 2018; Christian Caryl, Rape is still being used as a weapon of war -- Right now -- Today, The Washington Post, 21 November 2017; Sexual assault in the United States armed forces, Wikipedia). Profanity may itself be recognized and used as a weapon of choice in discourse, despite debate on what that implies (Profanity is the weapon of the witless, Google Groups).
Arse in British English derives from reference to the buttocks or hind portion of humans or animals, the rump -- and as such potentially inoffensive. Its use has been adapted to refer to a stupid person. Ass is the American English equivalent -- as with slang reference to "butt" or "backside". In both cases its common use has been further adapted in slang, and especially in colourful phrases and idioms, potentially considered vulgar. There is some curiosity regarding the distinction between the two variants (Arse vs Ass, Grammarist; Is there a difference between “arse” and “ass”? Stackexchange). The latter notes that:
... arse and ass are often interchangeable when used to refer to buttocks or to a person of dubious charms. However, although “to arse about” has a vague connection to “make an ass of oneself”, many of the threads of meaning derived from arse are not present in ass. Likewise, ass has a donkey-referring component that arse does not.
An earlier exercise explored the unconscious implications of the confused relations between these terms with respect to how they frame the primal action-oriented driving force of many -- from the highest executive level down to the worker in the field (Backside to the Future: coherence and conflation of dominant strategic metaphors -- Worshipping the Golden Ass, 2003). That exercise include commentary on contrasting clusters of operational meaning of "ass" under the following headings:
Although the focus of that exercise (and this one) is most distasteful to polite society, it does recognize the operational reality of large numbers of people whose actions are affecting the future of the world. As noted in the introduction to the earlier paper, it recognizes the framing of the social reality with which many so effectively engage. The fact that such language is primarily characteristic of the "smoke-filled rooms" and field sites where real decisions are taken -- and tends to be excluded from public discourse -- is part of the problem of the times.
In the USA, for example, habitués of the Executive Mansion are known to "yell and swear" and many presidents have used "locker room jargon" (as noted below). George Bush was widely reported for his use of the term "asshole" in public dialogue with Dick Cheney -- both from the oil industry -- during his 2000 election campaign].
|A brief argument between Vice President Cheney and a senior Democratic senator led Cheney to utter a big-time obscenity on the Senate floor this week [June 2004] ... A chance meeting with Sen. Patrick J. Leahy..., the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, became an argument about Cheney's ties to Halliburton Co., an international energy services corporation, and President Bush's judicial nominee. The exchange ended when Cheney offered some crass advice. "Fuck yourself," said the man who is a heartbeat from the presidency. (Helen Dewar and Dana Milbank, Cheney Dismisses Critic With Obscenity: clash with Leahy about Halliburton, The Washington Post, 25 June 2004)|
More recent examples are offered by Nicole Lyn Pesce (This chart shows the obscene amount of swearing lawmakers are doing in public, MarketWatch, 3 October 2019). Reasons have been offered (Judy Kurtz, F-bombs away: Why lawmakers are cursing now more than ever, The Hill, 18 August 2019). Donald Trump has been dubbed on that basis (Peter Baker, The Profanity President: Trump's four-letter vocabulary, The New York Times, 19 May 2019; Cody Fenwick, Trump raged and swore at his aides because his enemies aren’t being prosecuted: report, New Civil Rights Movement, 14 February 2020).
Part of the problem also derives from the fact that the association of terms is peculiar to the English language -- as the vehicle of global decision-making -- and especially to its American variant. Another aspect is that the terms in question tend to be restricted to a mode of discourse that is considered by some to be inappropriate "in front of the ladies" or in religious groups -- problematic when both are now intimately involved in key decisions. As a kind of "secret discourse", it points to what might be termed the "backside of decision-making" -- recalling the extensive study by Elise Boulding (The Underside of History: a view of women through time, 1976).
If the world's future is to be conceptually grasped and framed "through the backside" -- as might be inferrred -- then there is a case for understanding what such references may imply. As noted in the earlier exploration, there are also the curious references to the mythical importance of the ass -- as donkey:
These suggest implications for governance "by the seat of the pants" -- as could be considered to characterize the skill set of many leaders, and as described with respect to Donald Trump (Richard Klass, Flying By the Seat of the Pants, HuffPost, 29 January 2017). Especially noted with respect to flying an aircraft, the graveyard spiral is characterized by failing to recognize and/or respond to instrument readings. It is the most common source of controlled flight where an airplane controlled by a pilot hits the ground
Arsehole vs Asshole: The distinction follows from that between "arse" and "ass" (in English and American), however the emphasis is all the stronger and readily deemed to be extremely bad language, with its more specific reference to the anus, or as an insult derived from this meaning. Whereas "ass/arse" may be acceptable in parliamentary language, "asshole/arsehole" is likely to be considered unparliamentary language. However "ass" was so deemed in the UK Parliament in 1970 (Elizabeth Thompson, The 106 things you can’t say in Parliament, iPolitics, 14 December 2011). Being even stronger in its pejorative connotations, "asshole" is potentially the subject of greater restrictions (Aaron Wherry, Swearing in parliamentary history, Macleans, 19 June 2012).
Much is made of the degree of socio-economic inequality (World’s billionaires have more wealth than 4.6 billion people, Oxfam, 20 January 2020). At the same time there is widespread commentary on unrest and the rise of populism articulating the dissatisfaction of the underprivileged. The language of experts and elites has proved dramatically inadequate to any appropriate remedial response. Curiously, if only in etymological terms, it is appropriate to note the relation between "populism", as the deprecated expression of the people (in contrast to democracy) and "vulgarity" as the deprecated language of the common people (L. G. Andersson and P. Trudgill, Bad Language, 1990).
Expletives and profanity? As conventionally understood, an expletive is a word or phrase inserted into a sentence that is not needed to express the basic meaning of the sentence. Expletives are not however insignificant or meaningless in all senses; they may be used to give emphasis or tone, to contribute to the meter in verse, or to indicate tense. Expletive is commonly used outside linguistics to refer to any socially offensive bad language (namely profanity), whether used with or without meaning. Within linguistics, an expletive always refers to a word without meaning, namely a syntactic expletive or expletive attributive. In this technical sense, an expletive is not necessarily rude. Of some experiential relevance is any use of "expletion" to imply a satisfactory state of being filled to the full, namely fulfilled.
The etymology of profanity implies a desecration of the holy. The difficulty addressed by the above argument is the proliferation of domains variously considered "holy" or "sacrosanct" -- whether the belief system is academic, legal, strategic, or otherwise. Thus for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints:
Profanity is disrespect or contempt for sacred things. It includes casual or irreverent use of the name of any member of the Godhead. It also includes any type of unclean or vulgar speech or behavior... Foul language is both degrading and harmful to the spirit. (Profanity: Overview)
The extent to which what is held to be sacrosanct by some is experienced in practice by many others as "sub-holy" -- if not "un-holy" -- can be understood as evoking "legitimate" profanity.
Of relevance is the origin of the expression expletive deleted as a substitution -- marked [EXPLETIVE DELETED] -- in the redacted versions of the transcripts of tapes of discussion within The White House during the era of Richard Nixon. Recognizing the potentially shocking nature of profanity-laden discussion, that substitution was made. In the light of Nixon's understanding of profanity, comparatively minor outbursts like Christ and hell were also replaced as expletives.
Research has found a consistent positive relationship between profanity and honesty. Profanity was shown to be associated with less lying and deception at the individual level and with higher integrity at the society level (Gilad Feldman, et al. Frankly, We Do Give a Damn: the relationship between profanity and honesty, Social Psychological and Personality Science, 8, 2017, 7). The conclusions are however currently disputed by critics (Reinout E. de Vries, et al, Honest People Tend to Use Less -- Not More -- Profanity, Social Psychological and Personality Science, 9, 2018, 5).
Missing from such treatment is any systemic appreciation of the role of such expletives, as separately discussed (Interjections as a set of emotive qualitative judgments, 2010). The latter framed an earlier preoccupation with pattern-breaking interjections and expletives and the possibility of indication of more fundamental patterns (Interrelating Emotive Interjections in Response to Integrative Failure, 2010). Given the use of Twitter by leaders, as instigated by President Trump, the argument can be tsken further (Re-Emergence of the Language of the Birds through Twitter? Harmonising the configuration of pattern-breaking interjections and expletives, 2010; Sonification of Twitter Leadership at the G20: a surprising musical opportunity for Donald Trump to sound a new note, 2017).
Cursing? Missing as yet are the systemic functions of particular forms of profanity in decision-making contexts, despite a degree of more general appreciation (Kirstin Wong, The Case for Cursing, The New York Times, 27 July 2017; Victoria Pynchon, The Case for Cursing, Forbes, 16 September 2011; Emma Byrne, Swearing Is Good for You: the amazing science of bad language, 2018; Timothy Jay, Why We Curse: neuro-psycho-social theory of speech, 2000). The latter concludes:
Curse words have been only of brief and passing interest to psychologists and linguists. The absence of research on emotional speech has produced theories of language that are polite but inaccurate. Contemporary theories ignore the emotional intensification that curse words produce in language, as well as the issues involved in cursing. Curse words are words we are not supposed to say; hence, curse words themselves are powerful. The words contain and are produced by social practices. The articulation of a curse word thus has incorporated into it social rules about gender identity, race, power, formality, prohibition, etc. Cursing research remains outside the mainstream of psycholinguistic and cognitive research. As suggested, the topic itself is perhaps too taboo for academicians. Even the research that has been done on cursing from a historical-social point of view perpetuates the marginalization of emotional speech in theories of language. (p. 18) [emphasis added]
Use of the term "curse" usefully recalls the superstition associated with a "powerful curse" -- usefully in that it implies an extra-systemic, "unholy" perspective challenging conventional articulations. Understood as an imprecation, malediction, or execration, it is any expressed wish that some form of adversity or misfortune will befall or attach to one or more persons, a place, or an object. Maledictology is the academic study of offensive and negatively valued words and expressions -- with its own journal (Maledicta: The International Journal of Verbal Aggression). The title usefully recalls the relation to weaponry noted above.
As founder and president of Spiritual Warfare Ministries, Pastor Kenneth Scott offers an unusual degree of clarification consistent with a religious perspective, presented as follows:
In our society we have begun to use profanity like it's a second language. These words are not simply empty, meaningless words. Each of these words are demonic incantations, evoking demons to bring up evil spirits. In Hosea 4:6, the Bible teaches us that our lives are destroyed because of a lack of knowledge. This book will teach you what each of these words mean, and tell you the specific evil spirit you are conjuring up when you use these profane words. After reading this book and learning what you have been doing in the spiritual realm when you speak profanity, you will stop using it, and thereby cut off Satan’s access to your life. (The Witchcraft of Profanity, 2015)
Both the notion of a "second language" and that of "lack of knowledge" are discussed otherwise below. The difficulty for any religious articulation and its pejorative emphasis on "witchcraft" lies in the critique of the uncritical condemnation exemplified by the Inquisition and its demonisation of women, currently replicated with respect to any form of radicalism. This is effectively framed as "heresy" from a conventional perspective (Sady Doyle, Monsters, men and magic: why feminists turned to witchcraft to oppose Trump, The Guardian, 8 August 2019; Pam Grossman, Witches Are Having Their Hour, The New York Times, 11 October 2019; Wendy Griffin, The Embodied Goddess: feminist witchcraft and female divinity, Sociology of Religion, 56, 1995, 1). Ironically Donald Trump has frequently labelled efforts to impeach him as a "witch-hunt".
Consistent with the recognition that capitalism is essentially "evil", some explicitly associate it with a curse, even a form of enchantment (Alan Adaschik, The Curse of Capitalism, OpEdNews, 31 January 2014; Lalan, Capitalism is a Curse for Humanity, The International Marxist-Humanist, 23 January 2019; Alexander Karras, The Inevitable Curse of Capitalism: Loneliness, Medium, 5 Ocober 2018; Eugene McCarraher, Far from representing rationality and logic, capitalism is modernity’s most beguiling and dangerous form of enchantment, Aeon, 22 October 2019; John Bellamy Foster and Brett Clark, Ecological Imperialism: the curse of capitalism, Socialist Register, 19 March 2019).
Swearing? The point to be stressed is that such language may well be tolerated, and extensively used, in parliamentary committees, board rooms, and the like -- or in corridor discussion of formal debate. It may well be characteristic of aspirants to world leadership:
Noteworthy is the notorious description of Australia by its Prime Minsister, Paul Keating, as "the arse end of the world" -- and where this document was written -- a phrase subsequently incorporated into a musical. Also noteworthy is that Winston Churchill trained a parrot (alive in 2002) specifically to use such language. All the "bad" terms indicated below are however potentially characteristic of debates in some parliaments (or their corridors) -- notably in descriptions of political opponents.
As argued by Michael Adams, profnity weaves together linguistic and psychological analyses of why we swear -- for emotional release, as a way to promote group solidarity, or to create intimate relationships (In Praise of Profanity, 1981).
Authenticity? As the latter indicates, and as is evident in many films, use of such language is considered an indication of "authenticity" and grounded "realism". It is appropriately bizarre that, however "foul", "swearing" and the use of "oaths" should be associated as terms with the formality of telling the truth -- as exemplified by "swearing an oath" (Ruth Wajnryb, Expletive Deleted: a good look at bad language, 2005). As a solemn promise, or attestation of truth, types of oath may include:
Use of "oath" may also include an oath of betrothal on the occasion of engagement prior to marriage. It is in this sense that recognition of the significance of the vocabularly associated with swearing merits attention.
Noun descriptors: The terms highlighted here are those of the English language (see The Online Slang Dictionary: American, English, and Urban slang). It is obviously the case that equivalents exist in other languages -- even more explicit, and possibly more offensive (if not blasphemous):
Frankfurt not only identifies his target as misleading argument, he states an intention to attempt a conceptual sanitation of what is, after all, a dirty word. A clear understanding of the nature of bullshit is not an end in itself, but a way of spotting obfuscation, deliberate confusion, and misrepresentation. The reason this is so difficult, contends Frankfurt, is that we have no theory of bullshit. We are surrounded by it, but we simply don't recognize it. (Review: On Bullshit, Metapsychology, 9, 2005, 12) [emphasis added]However there is a challenge (Why leaders who bullshit are more dangerous than those who lie, The Conversation, 13 November 2019; Lila MacLellan, Are you inadvertently encouraging your colleagues to bullshit you? Quartz, 29 May 2018). As with use of "asshole", and despite careful commentary, there is a tendency for some to label anything with which they disagree as "bullshit".
Process descriptors: Potentially more significant than the descriptive labels above -- so readily and frequently deployed -- are the processes with which they may be only too suggestively associated. These involve language which is necessarily experienced as far more deeply offensive and insulting, and possibly intentionally so. They typically take the form of adaptation of processes of sexual intercourse, urination or defecation. They may well recall processes used in torture, possibly that of a close relative, including a parent.
The point is made in the review of a leaked report by economists associated with JPMorgan Chase (Kate Aronoff, Planet is Screwed, says Bank that Screwed the Planet, The New Republic, 25 February 2020), echoing an earlier assertion (Alexander C. Kaufman, The Planet Is Screwed If Democrats Don't Win The Senate, Warns Paul Krugman, HuffPost, 3 November 2016). The argument has been developed at greater length and with far greater elegance by Rebecca Solnit (When Institutions Rape Nations, TomDispath.com, 22 May 2011), introduced in the following terms:
In addition to the titles indicated above, in which the profanity is explicitly articulated, there are many recently published titles in which this is done by typographical implication, even in the mainstream media:
"Of the head": The argument here is that capitalism, whether as promoted or as deprecated by critics, is a matter "of the head". As a framework, arsenalism by contrast -- and to a far greater extent -- is a matter "of the body". The fact that the term is not recognized in this way -- if at all -- is indeed an indication that it is a matter of experience, eluding the abstractions of conventional language. However that mode or sphere of experience (as a framework or domain) is indicated -- if only suggestively -- by language considered problematic in formal discourse so carefully cultivated as appropriate.
As suggested above, formal discourse (and the strategies framed thereby) can indeed be caricatured in terms of a polarization between the "heartless heads" (of capitalism), and the "headless hearts" (of compassionate alternatives). However, in the light of the argument developed here, this caricature is itself inadequate by limiting "the body" to the "heart" alone, thereby excluding "the stomach", "genitalia" and "excretory" organs -- so important to experience, and to which reference is so explicitly made in problematic language.
The situation might be better framed -- extending the scope of the polarity -- to one between the "bodiless heads" (of capitalism) and the "headless bodies" (of arsenalism). It is of course the case that those so characterized would vigorously protest the caricature -- exemplified by capitalists claiming compassionate sensitivity, and caring progressives claiming well-articulated strategic alternatives. In claiming to be "well-grounded", both would contest any implication that the "lower" organs were inadequately encompassed -- despite any informal use of problematic language by them in moments of frustration.
It could be argued, as with respect to use of expletives, that the very process of articulation through carefully curated conventional language fails to express what is indicated by the deprecated use of problematic language.
Embodiment: Irrespective of such protest, and expressed otherwise, the polarization of global dynamics could be potentially explored in terms of "disembodied minds" (capitalism) and "embodied minds" (compassionate progressives). This is itself inadequate and ignores the frustration of capitalists in advancing their agendas -- voiced in such problematic language, if only in informal settings. It also ignores the frustration of those promoting caring alternatives in vainly calling attention to their potential -- again with a tendency to be voiced in problematic language by some.
Ironically the frustration of each with the other may also be framed with reference to the unhuman nature of soulless "zombies" about which there is a remarkable range of references -- especially with respect to the challenge of their eradication (Preponderance of references to the eradication of zombies, 2014). The term may of course be used to deprecate those whose comprehesion of a favoured initiative is deemed deficient. Is there a tendency in democratic politics for each party to think of the others as "zombies" in some way? (Paul Krugman, Have Zombies Eaten Bloomberg’s and Buttigieg’s Brains? The New York Times, 17 February 2020; Paul Krugman, How the Zombies Ate the Republicans' Souls, Real Clear Politics, 7 February 2020).
Any reference to "embodiment" is usefully framed by understandings of embodied mind, most notably as articulated by George Lakoff with Mark Johnson (Philosophy In The Flesh: the embodied mind and its challenge to Western thought, 1999). In claiming that the mind is "embodied", Lakoff is arguing that almost all of human cognition, up through the most abstract reasoning, depends on and makes use of such concrete and "low-level" facilities as the sensorimotor system and the emotions. Therefore, embodiment is a framework transcending both the dualism vis-a-vis mind and matter, but also the claims that human reason can be basically understood without reference to the underlying "implementation details".
Any academic presentation of "embodiment" as an exercise "of the head" -- as caricatured by "eggheads" -- necessarily and paradoxically, excludes articulations "of the body". The frustrated expression of the latter in problematic language is not permissible in academic texts, by the peer review system, or by publishers and libraries. A form of self-censorship is virtually universal. The deprecated language is therefore indicative of a domain of discourse of the embodied mind which formal discourse cannot encompass. Curiously an analogous situation is to be found in the frustions and inadequacies of religious discourse in articulation of suffering. Again problematic language would not be permissible and would be highly deprecated -- however much the sufferer may consider it appropriate in the light of paninful personal experience in the moment (Emma Byrne, Swearing Is Good for You: the amazing science of bad language, 2018).
Relevant to this argument is the expression of embodiment by Lakoff's co-author, Mark Johnson (The Meaning of the Body: Aesthetics of Human Understanding, 2007; The Body in the Mind: The Bodily Basis of Meaning, Imagination, and Reason, 1987) -- notably extended to movement by Maxine Sheets-Johnstone (The Corporeal Turn: An Interdisciplinary Reader, 2009; The Primacy of Movement, 1999). Other modes of expression of such frustration include graffiti and rap -- laced with humour -- all making far more explicit use of problematic language.
Framing the game? One approach to clarifying the threefold relationship is in terms of an adaptaion of proxemics to both space and time, namely to contrasting degrees of distance from extensive global duration to a momentary focus in the here-and-now. This is tentatively articulated in the following table. Aspects of the distinctions are explored separately with a focus on the sense of overcrowding (Local Reality of Overcrowding -- Global Unreality of Overpopulation: comprehensible reframing of engagement with global issues via metaphors of proximity, 2019). The population focus is useful in that any sense of "overpopulation" is an intellectual abstraction ("of the head"), whereas that of "overcrowding" is far more direct (being "of the body").
|indication of engagement with "space-time" of capitalism, alternativism and arsenalism (tentative)|
Long-term / Wider scope
conservation / preservation
safety-nets / education
|Enduring attitude / posture
("fuck the world")
(sustainable cash flow)
temporary local support
|Temporary pejorative characterization / insult ("its bullshit")|
gift / "gesture"
|Momentary use of expletive / profanity
("fuck off"; "we're fucked")
Of some relevance is the sense in which the cells of the table distinguish contrasting domains of confidence which are especially articulated with respect to capitalism in terms of risk-taking and risk-aversion (Primary Global Reserve Currency: the Con? Cognitive implications of a prefix for sustainable confidelity, 2011; Varieties of Confidence Essential to Sustainability, 2009). Both confidence and risk are experienced more personally in the case of the two other columns. The cognitive complexity of caring in the here-and-now can for example be explored in relation to the response to begging (Confusion in Exchanging "Something" for "Nothing": cognitive implication in the asymmetrical processes of begging and its surrogates, 2015).
Curiously the above arguments could be recognized as framing the traditional challenge of the mind-body relationship. Characteristics of any "missing link" or "gap" might however then be explored in terms of:
The suggestion is therefore that any "missing link" does not lend itself to articulation in conventional language. The comfortable focus "of the head", through capitalism and the complicity of "heady" academic, religious and compassionate discourse, is therefore usefully complemented by matters "of the body" labelled here as "arsenalism".
Appropriate leadership? Given the widespread deprecation of Donald Trump, in his primary role of world leader (however challenged), it is appropriate to recognize that his mode of expression is consistent with an appreciation of an aresenalist domain -- and may be attractive to many of his supporters frustrated by conventional lack of such recognition.
This a-rational recognition extends to appreciation of Trump's sloganeering -- Making America Great Again -- offering a degree of acknowledgement of frustrated aresenalism, from a deprecated "populist" perspective. This is otherwise consistent with its implications regarding the military and the nuclear arsenal of the USA, as being the greatest in the world. This nexus notably includes Trump's extensive association with both "reality TV" and "mixed martial arts" (MMA).
In this sense, Donald Trump is indeed an appropriate leader for these times. Deprecation of his inadequacies could usefully be explored as frustration with the inadequacies of dangerously limited systemic agendas by constituencies unable to consider what are so narrowly framed as functional (if not ideal). The inabilty of these constituencies to "get their act together" is evident in the dramatic failure of academic interdisciplinarity, interfaith discourse, and inter-ethnic initiatives. The inadequacy is made ever more evident by the crises of the times, the levels of widespread popular protest, and the plaintive appeals for "unity" and "solidarity" eluding meaningful articulation.
The burgeoning of an "arsenalist" domain is then to be recognized as a necessary complement to such inadequacy. Unexplored as it is, but so widely employed, profanity may be a vital source of learning in this period (Benjamin K. Bergen, What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, And Ourselves, 2016). The point is made by the title of an excerpt from the latter (What Profanity Teaches Us About Ourselves, Time, 13 September 2016).
Being an arsehole: efficacy of "nice guy" vs "jerk"? There is a curious degree of recognition of the ability of "arseholes" to undertake and implement strategies effectively -- "to get something done". This is contrasted with the limited capacities of "nice guys" in that regard -- however successful their appeals for collective action (Jerry Useem, Why It Pays to Be a Jerk, The Atlantic, June 2015). In summarizing aspects of the question, the latter cites the work of Gerben van Kleef (The Interpersonal Dynamics of Emotion: toward an integrative theory of emotions as social information, 2016). The case is usefully made otherwise by Jonny Thakkar (
On Being an Arsehole: a defense, The Point, 16, 23 April 2018), by Mark Manson (Why Being an Asshole Can Be a Valuable Life Skill), and by Remy Blumenfeld (Why Jerks Come Out On Top -- And Three Ways To Become One, Forbes, 1 October 2018)
In a discussion of the distinction with respect to interpersonal relations, Farah Ayaad insightfully concludes:
One of the few things that the asshole and the nice guy have in common is that they are both missing a half that makes them complete in a sense. At some point, we tend to lose interest in the nice guy and the asshole. (The Choice: The Asshole vs The Nice Guy (Thought Catalog, 3 November 2016)
However confused the issue, it is appropriate to note that "assholes" are more readily tolerated in frameworks "of the head". They are more readily rejected in compassionate initiatives "of the heart" -- and efforts to "save the world". This is fundamental to the tendency to failure of initatives deemed "positive", but which ultimately fail to "get their act together" -- other than in claiming vigorously to have done so, or to be able to do so (if only others would subscribe to their perspective).
Any such critique is a challenge to the argument of Robert Sutton (The No Asshole Rule: building a civilized workplace and surviving one that isn't, 2008). There is the implication that by deliberately designing out arseholes, the scope of the undertaking is potentially constrained in ways that call for clarification -- however successful they can be held to be on a smaller scale. There would appear to be a case for recognizing that the "headless hearts" -- however compassionate and caring -- are faced with a fundamental challenge of a mysteruous "hole in the heart" with which they assiduously fail to engage or endeavour to acknowledge. This is curiously reminiscent of the religious connotations of a "bleeding heart" (as a Sacred Heart), especially in the light of reference to bleeding-heart libertarianism.
Biting the bullet: The dilemma is usefully framed by the idiom, dubiously cited to excuse abuse: you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs. Whilst initiatives "of the head" (especially capitalism) have little compunction in "egg breaking" to achieve their ends, the issue is far more problematic for those advocating caring alternatives -- and sensitivity to the possibility of "treading on the toes" of those who hold distinctive views, and whose collaboration is desirable.
The challenge for progressives has been articulated in the light of the diminshing appeal of the left -- itself ironically challenged by the rise of populism. (***). The situation has been exemplified at the time of writing by the chaotic voting process for the Democratic candidate for the American presidency, preceded by the infighting leading to the disastrous result for opponents of Brexit and Boris Johnsonin the UK. Expressed otherwise, in the words of Rudyard Kipling, how are progressives to frame the process of biting the bullet -- namely to engage with a painful process to achieve a more integrative outcome?
What indeed might be inhrenently problematic about progressive / alternatve strategies -- however caring -- and how might that be detected and acknowledged? Rather than assuming that others need to learn, is there an "inconvenient truth" to be recognized, as explored separately (An Inconvenient Truth -- about any inconvenient truth, 2008):
Such "failure" is a challenge to the dualistic "positive thinking" in terms of which so much hope is placed by constituencies which continue to demonstrate their limited capacity to get their act together -- through being overly optimistic in neglecting the lessons of history (Variety of System Failures Engendered by Negligent Distinctions, 2016).
One admirable articulation of that hope is the extensive study by Matthieu Ricard (Altruism: the power of compassion to change yourself and the world, 2015). This significantly fails to encompass the dimension articulated by Barbara Ehrenreich (Bright-sided: how the relentless promotion of positive thinking has undermined America, 2009; Smile Or Die: how positive thinking fooled America and the world, 2010).
Of some relevance is the relation between the so-called reality distortion fields, and perception of them, as held to have been engendered by such as Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump (Leander Kahney, Steve Jobs: The World Class Asshole Who Dented The Universe, Cult of Mac, 26 October 2011; Ben Popper, Steve Jobs didn't care if people thought he was an asshole, The Verge, 25 March 2015; Hamilton Nolan, Elon Musk Is an Asshole, Splinter, 30 March 2018).
Pattern that connects? The quest for a "missing link" can itself be seen as inadequately framed through the implication that the requisite connectivity can be understood in the pseudo-mechanistic terms implied by "link" -- and the "connectivity" as thereby framed . That argument can be extended to any quest for a pattern of links. The limitation is evident in the original recognition of Gregory Bateson of the role of aesthetics in his much-cited reference to the pattern that connects:
The pattern which connects is a meta-pattern. It is a pattern of patterns. It is that meta-pattern which defines the vast generalization that, indeed, it is patterns which connect. (Mind and Nature: a necessary unity, 1979)
And it is from this perspective that he warns in a much-cited phrase: Break the pattern which connects the items of learning and you necessarily destroy all quality. Such considerations frame the question as how then to comprehend and activate any such pattern, as discussed separately (Enactivating "the pattern that connects", 2006). Bateson highlighted the role of aesthetics, in explaining why "we are our own metaphor" to a conference on the effects of conscious purpose on human adptation:
One reason why poetry is important for finding out about the world is because in poetry a set of relationships get mapped onto a level of diversity in us that we don't ordinarily have access to. We bring it out in poetry. We can give to each other in poetry the access to a set of relationships in the other person and in the world that we are not usually conscious of in ourselves. So we need poetry as knowledge about the world and about ourselves, because of this mapping from complexity to complexity. (Cited by Mary Catherine Bateson, 1972, pp. 288-9)
Rendered accessible by aesthetics or otherwise, the nature of any pattern itself merits creative reflection (Patterning Intuition with the Fifth Discipline, 2019).
Mysterious role of "the hole": Ironically the frequent reference to "hole" in relation to intercourse or otherwise -- most obviously in the case of "arsehole", and by implication in reference to "fucking" -- merits exploration with respect to the mystery of holes as so-called "strange attractors". These are indicative of a form of incompleteness which challenges assumptions to the contrary, as argued separately (Necessary incompleteness, 2014)?
The latter notes the consequence of deliberately omitting, or unconsciously missing, a dimension essential to systemic viability as can be reviewed and further justified by the work of the biological anthropologist Terrence Deacon (Incomplete Nature: how mind emerged from matter, 2012; The Symbolic Species: the co-evolution of language and the brain, 1997). He explores the paradoxical incompleteness of semiotic and teleological phenomena in terms of information to demonstrate how specific absences (or constraints) play the critical causal role in the organization of physical processes that generates these properties.
The fundamental value of focusing on what is "absent" from conventional explanation is introduced by Deacon by comparing it to the vital role of zero in the number system -- itself a great discovery (cf. Charles Seife, Zero: the biography of a dangerous idea, 2000; Robert Kaplan and Ellen Kaplan, The Nothing that Is: a natural history of zero, 2000). For Deacon:
Basically, it means that our best science -- that collection of theories that presumably comes closest to explaining everything -- does not include this one most defining characteristic of being you and me. In effect, our current "Theory of Everything" implies that we don't exist, except as collections of atoms. So what's missing? Ironically and enigmatically, something missing is missing. (p. 1, emphasis added)
As further discussed, the question is how to talk about what is so challenging to talk about -- and is so clearly not talked about for a variety of reasons (Global Strategic Implications of the "Unsaid", 2003; Varieties of the "unsaid" in sustaining psycho-social community, 2003; Cognitive and experiential black holes, 2014). This frames the mysteriously "unholy" complementarity between Holiness and unholiness as discussed with respect to the challenges of the Pope (Is the World View of a Holy Father Necessarily Full of Holes? Mysterious theological black holes engendering global crises, 2014).
Despite their attraction, and perhaps appropriate to their nature, research now indicates that there is a real fear of holes whose implications remain to be fully explored (David Adam, Trypophobia: why a fear of holes is real -- and may be on the rise, New Scientist, 15 January 2020).
Toroidal attractor underlying sex, sport and war? The conflation of associations above, so fundamental to psychosocial dynamics, suggests that the dynamics could be fruitfully configured together, as suggested by the images on the left below -- reproduced from more detailed discussion of "scoring" with all the ambiguiity that implies (Torc-bearing, Playing-ball, Scoring and Nesting, 2019). Given the argument there for toroidal representation, those images on the right are more suggestive of the dynamics.
The form of the torus is then especially suggestive of the focus on "scoring" in that context. This may be transformed into a focus on scoring goals, as in the many ball games having as objective to get the ball into a goal -- whether a net, ring, or otherwise (Baseball metaphors for sex, Wikipedia). There are only too obvious parallels to the sexual analogue for which "scoring" is a very common metaphor -- if not "balling" (69 Common Phrases In Sports That Sound Like Sex Terminology, PGP, 30 September 2014; The 19 Greatest Sports-Related Sex Euphemisms, TotalProSports, 21 July 2010).
Widely recognized in many contexts is the sense of being "scored against", typically framed as having been "fucked". Effectively, to lose is understood as "to have been fucked"? This is a process determining psychosocial dynamics thereafter in the priority given to "settling old scores". Of some relevance are the number of references to people being "raped with a baseball bat" and to its use in other forms of torture.
|Metaphorical nexus of fundamental psychosocial preoccupations
(Reproduced fron Torc-bearing, Playing-ball, Scoring and Nesting, 2019)
|2D schema||3D animation||Alternative toroidal variants|
Such framing of "the hole" is curiously consistent with the emphasis currently given to so-called doughnut economics as a feature of the quest for elusive global sustainabiity (Exploring the Hidden Mysteries of Oxfam's Doughnut, 2012). More intriguing are references to the "black hole" of national financial indebtedness, especially those recognized in public finances at the global level (Rodrigue Tremblay, Financial Black Holes and Economic Stagnation, Global Research, 19 October 2011).
The two directions of movement indicated in the images on the right suggest some recognition of the distinction between "fucking" and "screwing" as might be integrated in the following animation of intertwined tori. The co-existence of such contrasting metaphors, lending themselves to recognition as toroids, suggests that they may be complementary in ways which merit careful examination. Specifically it could be asked whether the processes in each case suggest that the two tori are dynamically interlocked as suggested by the following animations. The dynamic could be recognized as representing a fundamental form of "intercourse" between two frameworks which are typically not appropriately associated.
|Animation of a dynamic virtual
reality model of intertwined tori
(Reproduced fron Torc-bearing, Playing-ball, Scoring and Nesting, 2019)
|Red torus has a vortex (smoke ring) dynamic in the model|
|Blue torus has a wheel-like dynamic in the model|
|X3D and VRML models (kindly developed by Sergey Bederov of Cortona3D).|
More provocatively consistent with this argument is the preoccupation with "CYA" wth respect to resposibility for strategic initatives, whether local, national or global. As "covering your ass", this is the bureaucratic technique of averting future accusations of policy error or wrongdoing by deflecting responsibility in advance. Clearly there is intuitive recognition of the vulnerability of a "hole" with which there is a strange degree of potential identification.
In a period of crisis and incoherence, use of profanity appears to offer many a curious degree of relationship to coherence and authenticity. It appears to serve as a degree of recognition of a pattern only dimly intuited. It could then be said that both capitalists (as "heartless heads") and compassionate progressives (as "headless hearts") adopt an arsenalist posture in articulating frustration at any blocking of their agendas.
There is therefore a case for exploring how particular forms of profanity are indicative of particular systemic insights which are not apprehended otherwise. Whilst potentially regretable, it would appear that many alternative modalities, however optimistically presented, are themeselves perceived as worthy of profanity -- as "fuckingly irrelevant", for example. The question is why any such caricature is deemed appropriate by the person (or group) making use of it. How should comprehension of appropriateness by enhanced to encompass the insights intuitively encoded in profanity (Comprehension of Appropriateness, 1986)?
The strange relation of profanity to the anatomical holes associated with excretion and reproduction calls for a new kind of attention. It is curious that in conventional discourse this relationship is variously considered as simultaneously, repugnant, attractive, and to be avoided as improper. Is this in fact a remarkable reflection of analogous processes on a global scale?
Any such references miss the point however, as made more succinctly and insightfully through profanity. Profanity could then be seen as a kind of cogntive interface with systemic misunderstanding -- or "subunderstanding", as articulated by Magoroh Maruyama (Peripheral Vision: Polyocular Vision or Subunderstanding? Organization Studies, 25, 2004, 3). It is the articulation in terms of bodily processes of systemic cycles which eludes effective comprehension.
"Shit"? Are there major "holes", which are indeed repugnant and from which attention is generally withheld, as separately discussed (Lipoproblems: Developing a Strategy Omitting a Key Problem -- the systemic challenge of climate change and resource issues, 2009). Examples might include that associated with global waste disposal, such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (and its equivalents). Similarly, could the preoccupation with "carbon emissions" be understood otherwise as a euphemism for what the future may indeed recognize as a "farting civilization" in typical denial (Sins of Hot Air Emission, Omission, Commission and Promission: the political challenge of responding to global crises, 2009).
The holes recognized might include trillion dollar public indebtedness, or complicity in corruption at all levels of society (even the highest).
"Making it"? As attractors the holes might include the preoccupation with sexual satisfaction, whatever the cost to interpersonal relationships, or to the animal species deemed to be a vital source of aphrodisiacs. The negligent attitude to population increase might be considered in the same light -- engendering a future hole in terms of resource deficiency.
The genius of humanity is frequently presented in terms of the capacity to "make" through the use of "tools". Success may be decribed in terms of having "made it". These terms are of course borrowed to frame the achievement of sexual intercourse. Could the "gap" identified by Thomas Homer-Dixon be usefully understood as taking the form of a "hole" (The Ingenuity Gap: facing the economic, environmental, and other challenges of an increasingly complex and unpredictable world, 2000)?
Extra dimensions? Physics is now highly dependent on understandings of the higher dimensional nature of the reality with which it is preoccupied. These extend beyond the three or four dimensions which commonly feature in conventional discourse and governance. There are theories that attempt to unify the four fundamental forces by introducing extra dimensions. Most notably, superstring theory requires 10 spacetime dimensions, and originates from a more fundamental 11-dimensional theory tentatively called M-theory which subsumes five previously distinct superstring theories.
Curiously there is seemingly little effort to challenge the assumption that psychosocial dynamics can be usefully encompassed by three or four dimensions. Exceptions include: Ron Atkin (Multidimensional Man, 1982) and Antonio de Nicolas (Meditations through the Rig Veda: Four-Dimensional Man, 2003).To the extent that reality is a direct experience of space-time, as physics would have it, quantum reality may reinforce such comprehension. One such is the radical exploration by (Alexander Wendt, Quantum Mind and Social Science: unifying physical and social ontology, 2015).
In physics it is argued that if extra dimensions exist, they must be "hidden" by some physical mechanism. Understood as compactificiation, one well-studied possibility is that the extra dimensions may be "curled up" at such tiny scales as to be effectively invisible to current experiments. Considerable efforts are seemingly made to avoid any inference that psychosocial reality may call for recognition of elusive "curled up" dimensions, although the applications of complexity theory would suggest the relevance of some such understanding.
Misleading binary preoccupation: There is no lack of recognition of the extent to which every effort is made to reduce the complexity of psychosocial systems to a binary framework. Obvious examples are efforts to "win" rather than "lose" in sport and other domains, most notably politics and business. The pattern is of course most evident in interpersonal relationships. Considerable difficulties are encountered by the arrival, or presence, of any "third", whether in the case of the "eternal triangle" or a "Third Way" in politics -- which may well be framed by an expletive, especially as dramtaised in the movies.
The point is discussed separately:
There is therefore a case for exploring the extent to which profanity is indicative of intuitive recognition of higher dimensional processes. The succinct nature of the terms is then potentially suggestive of such recognition and the constrained possibilities of its communication through expletives in conventional discourse. The degree of emphasis it offers in such discourse is suggestive of a higher order of authenticity and engagement -- seemingly perverted by rule-breaking and its integration of dimensions of discourse subject to taboo.
As explored here, the disruption to the binary game-playing between the "heartless heads" (capitalists) and the "headless heads" (compassionate alternatives) is signalled by the use of profanity, by one or both -- an insight from a third domain (arsenalists). Appropriate to the distinctive nature of the latter perspective is the manner in which recourse to it is covert, "under the table", or behind the scenes "in smoke-filled rooms" -- and deplored or censored in formal discourse as "bad language", or as "foul language" by those of religious persuasion (When Is It Sinful to Use Foul Language).
Insight implied by "fuck" and "bullshit": The point could be stressed otherwise through recognition that "fucking" is a process of far higher dimensionality than is implied by simplistic metaphors -- a higher dimensionality acknowledged in the quasi-mystical connotations of consummation (Mystical Marraige, Catholic Encyclopedia; Carl Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis, 1970; Consummation: a very peculiar practice, The Independent, 15 September 2008).
Intrigingly any use of "fuck" as a single expletive in reaction to the blocking of an initiative could then be better understood as indicative of blockage of a higher dimensional process -- only intuitively susceptible to recognition. Similarly "bullshit" could be better recognized as describing simplistically confusion intuited to be of a higher order -- but for which communicable descriptors are not available.
Deprecation of profanity, and its due consideration, merits the reservation implied by yet another variant of Arthur Clarke's "third law" -- possibly to the effect that any intuited understanding of a higher dimensional process, duly articulated through the simplistic language available, is indistinguishable from "crap" or "bullshit". As expressed by Freeman Dyson: When a great innovation appears, it will almost certainly be in a muddled, incomplete and confusing form. To the discoverer, himself, it will be only half understood; to everyone else, it will be a mystery. For any speculation which does not at first glance look crazy, there is no hope! (Innovation in Physics, Scientific American, 199, 3, September 1958).
This could be argued otherwise in the light of the title of the post-humous work by Gregory Bateson (Angels Fear: towards an epistemology of the sacred, 1988). The challenging relationship between the sacred and the profane has been held to be the central dichotomy of religion (Emile Durkheim, Sacred and Profane, Socal Theory Rewired, 2016; Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane, 1959; Lambert M Surhone, et al. Sacred-Profane Dichotomy, 2010; Dominic John Farace, The Sacred-Profane Dichotomy: a comparative analysis of its use in the work of Emile Durkheim and Mircea Eliade, 1982). The point is made otherwise by Melissa Mohr (Holy Shit: a brief history of swearing, 2013).
An earlier effort to configure a set of "dimensions" relating to "ass" was developed in relation to discussion of reference to The Metamorphoses of Apuleius and the Golden Ass -- the only novel of the Roman Empire to survive in its entirety. The articulation took the following form.
Worshipping the Golden Ass?
|Reproduced from Configuring preoccupations with "ass" (2003)|
In quest of clues: If there are systemic insights to be elicited from what is effctively buried in the unconscious language of profanity, the question is where clues to discovering the nature of a "new language" are to be found through which engagement with the problems of the times can be framed more fruitfully.
As suggested above, the insights of complexity theory and the like have proved to be less than fruitful -- even alien to those who experience themselves as "being fucked" by the deployment of such expertise, readily reframed as "bullshit". Missing from such articulations, however systemically insightful, is a participative dimension enabling comprehension of a more intimate nature, consistent with experience.
Recourse to the sexually charged language of profanity, suggests the possibility of "marrying" the alien insights of complexity theory with a radically distinct language far more explicitly associated with an "arsenalist" worldview.
One such possibility, necessarily controversial, is the articulated framework of the Kama Sutra -- renowned for distinguishing both the variety of ways of "fucking" and the circumstances under which particular ways are appropriate and fruitful for the parties involved. Some indications as to the nature of such a marriage are presented separately (Reframing the Dynamics of Engaging with Otherness: triadic correspondences between Topology, Kama Sutra and I Ching, 2011).
That argument raised the question as to the extent to which contrasting frameworks, associated with implicit metaphors, condition distinctive dominant cultures and those that are emerging -- as argued by Susantha Goonatilake (Toward a Global Science: mining civilizational knowledge, 1999) -- and separately discussed (Enhancing the Quality of Knowing through Integration of East-West metaphors, 2000)?
Higher orders of self-reference: It is intriguing to note that the cybernetic insights associated with complexity theory are integrated within a viable system model characterized by multiple levels of feedback loops and higher orders of self-reference (Hilary Lawson, Reflexivity: the post-modern predicament, 1985). Arguably the framework of the Kama Sutra offers a more participative engagement with "feedback loops", as recognized to varying degrees in the process of "fucking" and "being fucked" -- whether by consent or otherwise. How do the feedback loops of sexual intercourse map onto those of a viable system model -- and how might any limited sense of this be labelled by profanity?
Especially intriguing are the "cognitive gymnastics" implied by the injunction "go fuck yourself", as cited above from a documented interaction among US leadership ((Helen Dewar and Dana Milbank, Cheney Dismisses Critic With Obscenity: clash with Leahy about Halliburton, The Washington Post, 25 June 2004). It also features in motivational discourse (Clintt Mayo, The Power of Go Fuck Yourself -- and eleven other motivational business phrases, 2017). This could be understood as implying -- none too subtly -- a call for a higher order of reflexivity and circular thinking, as otherwise suggested by recycling and proposals for a circular economy -- deemed essential to sustainability. Is this intuition otherwise implied by the injunction "go shove it up your ass" -- or more indirectly by the allusion "I know where I will put it"? The latter is a phrase famously employed by Martin Luther in response to receipt of written correspondence from a critic (see below).
The contrasting frameworks call for exploration of how they share systemic information processes through which any problematic sense of manipulation and misrepresentation can be understood participatively. These might well be usefully understood through a marketing or public relations mind-set -- whereby efforts are deliberately made to "screw" the public -- however such intentions are otherwise presented. Efforts to penetrate and manipulate a market segment, as widely practiced, could offer insights into the manner in which populations are "fucked", or experience themselves in that way. Use of such profanity would also be evident in discourse about the fake news deployed by competing institutional initiatives (Varieties of Fake News and Misrepresentation, 2019). Current manipulation of public opinion in anticipation of elections could be especially instructive.
Rather than calling upon the articulation of the Kama Sutra, those concerned with fruitful inter-gender sexual relations could be challenged to distinguish those processes deemed appropriate from those which merit deprecation. Aspects of this possibility are discussed separately (Global Civilization through Interweaving Polyamory and Polyanimosity? Loving/Hating the world otherwise through contractual bonding with any significant other, 2018).
Comprehensible encoding of higher dimensionality? One clue to such encoding is offered by geometrical representations of oppostional logic, most notably in terms of the 16 possible binary Boolean operations. as discussed and illustrated separately (Oppositional Logic as Comprehensible Key to Sustainable Democracy: configuring patterns of anti-otherness, 2018; Neglected recognition of logical patterns -- especially of opposition, 2017).
|Topologically faithful 4-statement Venn diagram
is the graph of edges of a 4-dimensional cube
as described by Tony Phillips
Animation in 4D of configuration of relations on the left
|Diagram by Warren Tschantz
(reproduced from the Institute of Figuring) .
|A vertex is labeled by its coordinates (0 or 1) in the A, B, C and D directions; the 4-cube is drawn as projected into 3-space; edges going off in the 4th dimension are shown in green.||by Jason Hise [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons|
In exemplifying articulations "of the head", the representations above necessarily invite their rejection from an arsenalist perspective as "fucking meaningless" -- or simply "bullshit".
Requisite "earthiness" and global transformation? It is appropriate to note the curious conjunction of the scatological with preoccupation with the divine, exemplified by the case of Martin Luther who was obliged by his constipation to do much of his writing and contemplation on the toilet, as described by Danielle Mead Skjelver (German Hercules: the impact of scatology on the image of Martin Luther, 1483-1546, Medieivalists.net, 2012). As noted in that regard, in Luther’s time, vulgarity and a strong focus on excretory functions and their products were a part of (sometimes) even polite society (Talking Tough: Martin Luther’s Potty Mouth, Today I Found Out: feed your brain, 25 November 2014). Later Mozart, as a "divine genius", is held to have written the lyrics of lesser known music long attributed to him, such as Leck mir den Arsch fein recht schön sauber (Terynn Boulton, Mozart’s Much Less Family Friendly Works, Today I Found Out: feed your brain, 20 May 2014).
There is considerable irony, of potential relevance to future global transformation, that Luther's 95 theses of the Reformation were composed on a toilet in 1517 (The Reformation started on the toilet, Radboud Reflects, 31 October 2017; Toilet where Luther strained to produce the Reformation, The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 October 2004; Ed Simon, Fecal Fridays: Martin Luther on the Toilet, Queen Mob's Teahouse, December 2017; Ron Ferguson, Martin Luther's Toilet Unearthed, History News Network, 11 November 2004).
Luther argued for a more "earthy Christianity", which regarded the entire human body -- and not just the soul -- as God's creation (Luther's lavatory thrills experts, BBC News, 22 October 2004). This suggests the possibility that the widespread use of "motherfucker", however highly offensive, merits consideration in terms of frustrations relevant to the global crisis of "Mother Earth", as variously understood and celebrated (Jim Dawson, The Compleat Motherfucker: a history of the Mother of All Dirty Words, Feral House, 2009). From that perspective, as both a maternal insult and an indication of incest, many would recognize the extent to which capitalism engages systematically in "motherfucking". Whilst that association is widely made by anti-capitalists as a slogan, yet to be explored is the fruitful interaction with Mother Earth in socio-economic terms -- seemingly implied by frustrated use of the term.
In that light, is "arsenalism" indeed a valuable clue to global transformation -- especially in the light of the crisis of global waste production and the need for recycling? In the light of the title of Luther's theses, Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences (Disputatio pro declaratione virtutis indulgentiarum, 1517), could it be fruitfully said that global society is both overly self-indulgent and constipated? (Heather Horn, Self-Indulgence: Defining Quality of Our Time? The Atlantic, 21 June 2010; Are we more constipated than we think? BBC News, 6 June 2019).
A potentially more suggestive approach is to make use of the binary encoding of the I Ching -- to which familial relationships are traditionally attributed as metaphors. This is discussed and illustrated separately in the following terms (Encompassing the "attraction-harassment" dynamic with a notation of requisite ambiguity? 2017).
These signs can be too readily identified with "male" (yang) and "female" (yin). Somewhat provocatively, but appropriately, this depiction can be contrasted with the common sociobiological equivalent -- especially with the emerging psychoanalytical recognition of an "inner male" within any "female" and an "inner female" within any "male" (John A. Sanford, The Invisible Partners: how the male and female in each of us affects our relationships, 1979).
A far more general understanding may however be more fruitful. In practice "women" may empower themselves in a "yang-mode" and frame "men" as being in a "yin-mode" -- who may welcome this dominance in some situations. Between men in prisons, some may be framed as "bitches". Either men or women, in a "yang-mode" may frame targets and marks for exploitation as being in a relatively vulnerable "yin-mode". The victims of any form of dominance may reframe themselves aggressively in a "yang-mode" -- as with jihadists. Any such attribution or framing may itself be contested in the dynamic -- given any capacity for reframing by donning or doffing a frame.
Potentially more intriguing is the contrast between "reality" and "imagination" where assumption of either can arguably imply some form of projection -- well-recognized in interpersonal relationships and courtship processes. This is most charmingly articulated in the famed butterfly dream of Chuang Tzu (aka Zhuangzi):
Once Zhuangzi dreamt he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn't know he was Zhuangzi. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakable Zhuangzi. But he didn't know if he was Zhuangzi who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was Zhuangzi. Between Zhuangzi and a butterfly there must be some distinction! This is called the Transformation of Things.
The dream is held to be the most celebrated ever to be recorded in the history of Chinese philosophy (Kuang-Ming Wu, The Butterfly as Companion: meditations on the first three chapters of the Chuang Tzu, 1990). In its distinction between two fundamental cognitive conditions, this recalls ongoing academic dispute regarding the psychosocial construction of reality. It is related to distinctions between "explicit knowledge" and "tacit knowledge" -- presumably increasingly to be considered a matter of controversy in relation to sexual harassment through "touching". The dilemmas are all the greater given the importance associated with phatic communication as a much-valued bonding ritual (between world leaders) in contrast with formal substantive communication between them. The contrasting symbols are indicative of the mathematical archetypes of 1 and 0 whose mysterious relationship in the light of the Euler identity invites further speculation (Correspondences: "epi", Euler identity, and sexual dynamics? 2013).
Four-fold dynamic pattern? In this light, rather than indicating statically either the "yang" or "yin" variants, these are presented above in parallel through a dynamic. Appropriately (when printed), these appear static -- however it is their dynamic alternating condition (as it may feature on a web page) which is of far greater significance. They frame the question as to which is the empowered attractor and which is the potential harasser. In a particular situation, is it the yang or yin condition which is the attractor or the harasser? To which symbol does either lay claim? With which is identification made? How does comprehension oscillate between either interpretation? Necessarily, the dynamic does not readily lend itself to formal discourse based on unambiguous (invariant) definitions. Each is a focus of a sense of righteousness -- as with capitalism and its contrasting alternatives.
A more complex pattern, previously indicated as "4-phase comprehension", can then be expressed using combinations of the following:
Combined dynamically this would however give the following, again with the distinctions made evident in the dynamic (on a web page) rather than in static interpretation assumed to be definitive (when printed).
The above presentation in quadrants is valuable in suggesting how the condition indicated by each quadrant may alternate with that of other quadrants -- but with any definitive allocation of significance to a particular quadrant then called into question. How might this hold the interplay between relative dominance and relative passivity -- however each may be valued or deprecated -- again as with respect to capitalism and its alternatives?
Provocatively again, these distinctions could be usefully contrasted with an emergent equivalent -- using four LGBT standard gender symbols. Of value to this argument, the relationships they signify are all indicative of behaviours which have long been considered highly abusive (even abhorrent, criminal or "evil"). However controversial, this continues to be the case in particular cultures and in particular segments of society.
Not to be forgotten, as especially significant, is the conviction for homosexuality of Alan Turing following his unique contribution to the outcome of World War II, to the development of computer technology, and to speculation regarding processes transcending its limitations, as discussed separately (Imagining Order as Hypercomputing Operating: an information engine through meta-analogy, 2014).
The conventional inability to process such emergent distinctions is only too evident in the controversies that are evoked in contrast to the relatively "comfortable" binary modality of righteousness faced with its unreasonable challenges (potentially to be considered evil). Curiously tragic is evidence of such radical reversion to a particular sense of rightness, despite emergence of the subtler 4-fold insight (Brendan O'Neill, Questioning gender fluidity is the new blasphemy, The Spectator, 14 November 2017).
It is perhaps useful to see these 4-fold distinctions more generally, with the sexual connotations as only a potential specific instance in each case of: female-female bonding, male-male bonding, male-female bonding, and bonding transcending any gender focus. They might better be understood as indicative of a set of modes of self-reference of a "higher" order -- beyond that of second-order cybernetic feedback processes (third order? fourth order?).
In contrast with the abstract binary symbolism, these qualitative dimensions add to its simple "positive/negative" distinction an as yet unresolved sense of what is "right" or "wrong" ("good" or "evil") -- variously distinguished through "shades of grey", as with the problematic distinction "overt/covert". It is of course notable that women continue to be framed -- by men of some religious persuasions -- as more closely associated with "evil". The charged nature of the basic distinction continues to play out in the distinction between "right" and "left" -- especially in many political contexts. The complexity of such associations is evident with respect to "Alt-Right" and "Alt-Left" -- and the unreasonableness of the arguments of the other. Are there unsuspected forms of connectivity to be discovered between capitalism and its alternatives?.
Eight-fold dynamic pattern? In addition to the positive/negative distinction, also implied is a complex pattern of "true/false" distinctions -- "shades of grey" understood otherwise and potentially relevant to any logical truth table appropriate to a "post-truth" era (Towards articulation of a "post-truth table"? 2016). The argument can be more appropriately complexified using "8-phase comprehension", with a pattern of distinctions as follows:
The table suggests the possibilities of different "stories" whereby the distinctions are encoded. Story B shows the Alternatives as holding a balance, with the Arsenalists notably associated with a "hole". Other "stories" could be represented.
Given the confusion regarding the extended distinction of gender-orientation symbols, it is as yet unclear what such a corresponding set might usefully signify, and how they might be reduced to a coherent pattern of 8, for example. A set of 12 with associated computer codes is available (Gender Symbols Female and Male Signs, Alt-Codes). A larger set is presented by Anunnaki Ray (All the Gender Symbols), with indications of an even more comprehensive set as shown below.
|Comprehensive set of gender-orientation symbols|
|reproduced from Cari-Rez-Lobo (Gender Symbols, Deviant Art), which includes a further clarification of each|
Forms of "harassment" potentially evoking expletives? Profanity might be usefully understood as evoked when boundaries defined by binary convention are challenged and crossed -- "boundary breaking" -- typically the case with harassment and encroachment, as can be variously explored (Reimagining Intercourse between the Righteous Unrightly Challenged: attraction and harassment in psychodynamic terms beyond the binary blame-game, 2017; Varieties of Encroachment, 2004; Range: proxemics and dilution of experiential connectivity, 2019; Human potential: via mysterious coupling of extremes? 2019).
|Schematizing the representation of harassment?||Simplified phase diagram interrelating states of matter of different degrees of bonding/connectivity suggestive of contrasting connectivity in relationships||Reconciliation of configuration of logical opposition with 8-fold encoding (above) --
the BaGua pattern of I Ching
|Reproduced from Encompassing the "attraction-harassment" dynamic with a notation of requisite ambiguity? (2017)||Reproduced from Z. D. Sung, The Symbols of Yi King or the Symbols of the Chinese Logic of Changes (1934, p. 12)|
It is curious to note the extent to which Donald Trump is recognized for both his profanity and for his "rule breaking" and the manner in which this has contributed to enabling both to a far greater extent in society. If it is political correctness and conventional etiquette which have been indications of the inadequacy of language in times of crisis, there is a certain appropriateness to the ambiguity of the title of a compilation of multiple examples by Simon Griffin (Fucking Good Manners, 2019).
Frustrated coaction as "being fucked"? Given the references to "headless hearts" and "heartless heads", one valuable approach is understanding of the coaction cardioid, as discussed separately (Cardioid Attractor Fundamental to Sustainability: 8 transactional games forming the heart of sustainable relationship, 2005; Interpretation of the heart pattern via the coaction cardioid, 2018).
|Possible 8-fold positive-negative hybrid conditions|
|.||.||Y = "Control component"|
|Positive||predation (- +)
|allotrophy (0 +)
|symbiosis (+ +)
|Neutral||amensalism (- 0)
|commensalism (+ 0)
|Negative||synnecrosis (- -)
|allopathy (0 -)
|parasitism (+ -)
Potential relevance is evident from the following images reproduced from Symbolizing Collective Remembering Otherwise: encompassing the "headless hearts" and "heartless heads" through their dynamic entanglement (2018)
|8-fold Pattern of Non-Neutral Relationships
(Timothy Wilken, The Relationship Continuum, 2002)
Haskell's Cartesian orientation
animation with positive/negative "arrows"
|Rotation of Lauburu pattern over alternative BaGua patterns|
Rather than emphasizing any relative qualitative superiority or inferiority, there is a case for recognizing that the cognitive shift from a widely comprehensible two-fold pattern to a three-fold pattern (apparent in the images above) calls for recognition of a cognitive challenge which is mysteriously elusive to conventional thinking in quest of simplistic closure (Engaging with Elusive Connectivity and Coherence: global comprehension as a mistaken quest for closure, 2018).
Borromean ring linkage: Far more controversial is the comprehension of any triadic configuration, most obviously the Christian Trinity to which mystics allude, as discussed and illustrated separately (Vlad Alexeev, Borromean Rings, Impossible World; Symbols of the Holy Trinity, Holy Trinity Amblecote; Borromean Rings, ThisIsChurch.com). The question is whether its integrative function of 3-in-1 and 1-in-3 is best to be presented in terms of a Venn diagram or a Borromean ring condition. The medieval depiction in 2D (below left) is indicative of an aspect of the challenge since it can be readily misunderstood in terms of the former rather than the latter.
As discussed and illustrated separately (Conversation theory, actor interaction and boundaries, 2018), of particular relevance to this argument has been the manner in which conversation theory has been developed (Gordon Pask and Gerard de Zeeuw, Interactions of Actors: theory and some applications, 1992), with reference to the work of Beer (1994), notably as described by Nick Green (Axioms from Interaction of Actors Theory, Kybernetes, 33, 2004) with respect to triplets of concept resonance. Pask suggested a Borromean link-isometric view. Pask's "stable concept triple" in 3D is illustrated below as a putative model of continuity -- the equilibrium of void and not-void, around a void.
The fundamental importance of the Borromean ring pattern has been adopted in a 3D variant as illustrated below.
|Conceptual clarification of "three-ring circus" interrelating capitalism, alternativism, and arsenalism|
|Early depiction of
|Pask's Stable Concept Triple
linked as a Borromean Ring
|International Mathematical Union logo as a Borromean Ring||Borromean rings
(circles must bend to be able to be woven together)
(circles do not need to bend to form the 3-link, see knot atlas)
|Reproduced from Wikipedia||Reproduced from Nick Green (Axioms from Interactions of Actors Theory, 2004)||Reproduced from Wikipedia||Reproduced from The Three Giri of Paradiso XXXIII (2013)|
Dante's three giri: The challenge to comprehension is delightfully clarified and illustrated in an extensive analysis of how Dante Alighieri describes the three rings (tre giri) of the Holy Trinity in Paradiso 33 of the Divine Comedy (Arielle Saiber and Aba Mbirika, The Three Giri of Paradiso XXXIII, Dante Studies, 131, 2013, pp. 237-272).
This remarkable interdisciplinary exploration combines insights from speculative theology, geometry and knot theory. It is of particular relevance to the argument here, especially in relation to knots. The challenge of global governance at this time has notably been framed by a number of authors in terms of the legendary Gordian Knot, as indicated separately (Mapping grossness: Gordian knot of governance as a Discordian mandala?, 2016). That featured in a discussion of grossness as potentially reflective of the excesses of capitalism (Evaluating the Grossness of Gross Domestic Product, 2016).
The study usefully distinguishes between a pseudo-Borromean linkage and one which confirms to those properties (as illustrated above right) -- potentially valuable in considering the functional integrity of the relation between capitalism, alternativism and arsenalism.
The study of Dante's "three giri" is remarkable for the balance it brings to aspects of the issue discussed here. If nothing else, it is valuable as a review of the ways in which the reconciliation of three incommensurables may be most fruitfully considered in the light of thinking from the past. It engages with Dante's poetic insights into Christianity's greatest paradoxical mystery of three-in-one / one-in-three. In this sense it could be understood as a study in "topological theology" or "theological topology". Those implications reinforce the case for more extensive research in mathematical theology, as separately argued (Mathematical Theology: Future Science of Confidence in Belief -- self-reflexive global eframing to enable faith-based governance, 2011).
As the authors summarize:
... we analyze one particularly suggestive arrangement for the giri: that of three intertwined circles in a triangular format. Of the many permutations of this figure, we isolate two variations -- a Brunnian link commonly called the Borromean rings and a (3,3)-torus link -- to show how they more than any other possible arrangement offer unique mathematical, aesthetic, and metaphoric properties that resonate with many of the qualities of the Trinity Dante allusively described in Paradiso 33. We propose these as a possible configuration, rich with mystery in themselves, out of a number of Trinitarian models that Dante knew and contemplated. (p. 239)
Relative mutual (in)visibility of capitalism, alternativism and arsensenalism in virtual reality: There is a case for distinguishing the three domains in terms of time. Capitalism has proved to be exemplary in its association with the longer-term connotations of "globalization". Caring allternativism has placed greater emphasis on "local" needs , highlighting the more limited sense of duration required fro remedial response. However it is arsenalism which is primarily associated with the experiential immediacy of the present moment -- especially when evoked by the frustration of longer-term agendas.
It is useful to use 3D / virtual reality techniques to indicate the challenges to simultaneous comprehension of three essentially incommensurable planes of reference. The exercise here follows from experiments in the mutually orthogonal representation of the symbols of the three principal Abrahamic religions (Reconciling Symbols of Islam, Judaism and Christianity, 2017) and from a more complex exercise (Comprehension of Requisite Variety via Rotation of the Complex Plane, 2019).
With respect to the Abrahamic religions, for example, no effort has seemingly been made to provide any symbol to indicate their mutual relationship or the nature of their relative (in)visibility to one another -- despite the higher order experiential coherence to which they implicitly subscribe and in which adherents are encouraged to believe. The lack of such effort can be understood as an indication of their collective incompetence in these critical times -- and a failure to comprehend the nature of a "Big Daddy" which could bring order to the perpetual strife they so violently engender (Nicholas Rescher, The Strife of Systems: an essay on the grounds and implications of philosophical diversity, 1985).
For the purpose of this exercise, indicative symbols for capitalism, alternativism and arsenalism were required. The first is obvious (below left); the two others were produced as readily comprehensible compounds. The first by combining the recycling symbol with that of the heart, with the latter rendered dynamically separately (Meta-pattern: petal-bird-heart dynamics as a metaphorical nexus? 2020). The second by rotation of the standard symbols for male and female (as noted above). The symbols can be variously coloured to achieve different effects suggestive of distinctive modes of understanding..
|Indicative symbols as mnemonic devices|
The three symbols in 2D could then be positioned on 2D planes at right angles to each other in 3D -- as indicated by the image on the left below. As an indication of the process, the animations below aree derived from previous exercises.
|Examples of mutually orthogonal sets of 3 2D symbols -- understood as incommensurable|
|Octants in solid geometry||3 Abrahamic religions||3 Rendering of Mandelbrot set|
As a virtual reality model in 3D, the structure can then be variously rotated to offer particular perspectives on the threefold combination of capitalism, caring alternativism and arsenalism. The screen shots below show how under particular conditions different combinations of the three frameworks are visible, with one typically invisible as shown. The complexity of the images is relevant as being indicative of the challenges of the 3-fold complex to comprehension. The relative simplicity of their combination is best rendered dynamically through an animation as shown on the right.
|Relative (in)visibility suggested by mutually orthogonal juxtaposition of symbols
(animation on right; screen shots of animation on left)
|Caring alternativist /
|Capitalist (reversed) /
Alternativist / Arsenalist
As the sections above have variously argued, it would appear that there is a strange degree of sharing of metaphors between the capitalist and arsenalist domains -- suggesting a curious degree of mutual reinforcement -- if not mirroring -- despite the degree to which one domain is primarily overt and the other covert. This could be summarized as follows.
Capital and arsenal in national planning of infrastructure: Capital as central with visible architecture, with arsenal as hidden/secretive and distributed, notably illustrated in the case of Israel with its focus on Jerusalem.
Capitalism and "arsenalism" as strategic policies: As illustrated by the military industrial complex with its focus on maintining and enhancing a nuclear arsenal. Whereas capitalism is upheld by its advocates as well-articulated (with "greed as good"), this is curiously complemented by a well-documented pattern of "arsing around" in the contract negotiation process -- and entertainment offered in the form of a "piece of ass" ("sex is good").
Assets: "being great again": Framed overtly in terms of a bigger capital city, a higher degree of capitalisation, a bigger arsenal of weaponry, or increasing intellectual capital (epitomised by accumulation of intellectal property). This is curiously complemented by widespread advertising for quality products and services, notably crafted with sexual connotations where possible.
Stakes and stakeholding: Reference is curiously made to "stake" in the language of capitalism. With respect to equity finance, stake is the part of a company or business owned by a shareholder. The related understanding of stakeholder is any organization or individual that affects or can be affected by an organization's actions (Addisu Lashitew, Stakeholder capitalism arrives at Davos, Brookings, 21 January 2020). Also related are the survey stakes, whereby the extent of a property is determined by surveyors. Further to the latter sense, stakes can be used to construct a defensive stakewall (or palisade) of traditional military significance. More problematic is reference to the use of stake for purposes of punishment or executions, as recently argued, for example (‘Burned At The Stake’: The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture demolishes the fake claims targeting Julian Assange, Media Lens, 13 February 2020). of potentially greater relevance to an arsenalist perspective, are the Freudian associations of stake and stakeholding, given the aspirations to "be great again".
Image: Appreciation and deprecation of image is of considerable importance to both capitalist enterprises and from a personal "arsenalist" perspective. This is epitomised by massive investment in public relations and advertising in the first case, and the role of Facebook in the second. Curiously, in its obvious association with the "likes" of "the head" (and "of the heart"), the well-documented role of the latter with respect to "the arse" is implicit rather than explicit. Whilst it may function, as with some other social media, as an Arsebook (to indicate "dislikes"), no such website is evident. The irony is all the greater given the degree of involvement in pornography -- both from a capitalist and from an arsenalist perspective.
Playful dynamics framed by sporting metaphors: From a capitalist perspective this ranges from speculative financial game-playing (variously playing the field and scoring) to analogous sexual dynamics -- in quest of ass (possibly framed as "balling"). Ironically this may be matched by arsenalists -- both in quest of capital and in playfully "balling".
Discourse: As noted above, the propensity of formal discourse in government and business to slide into use of profanity is curious -- especially when unconstrained by public criticism. Negotiation, especially of major contracts, may well be deliberately "facilitated" by arsenalist dynamics. It is also curious that capitalists may well be explicit in "not giving a shit" about preoccupations of alternativists -- or may be so perceived by the latter.
Shared preoccupation with a "hole": This may range from a perception of a "hole in thinking" and argumentation from a "head perspective", to pejorative assessments of others as "assholes". Is the deprecation of "losers" in part due to the implication that they are "assholes"? There is a curious sense in which the capitalist model may engender "financial black holes" -- potentially to be understood as the hidden "arsehole of capitalism" of whose existence it is dependent, and of which bankers might be held to be the guardians. A capital hole is a large amount of money that a country or organization needs for a particular purpose but does not have (Deutsche Bank: How Big Is The Capital Hole? Reuters, 22 January 2017; European Banks Face $153 Billion Capital Hole Under Basel Rules, Bloomberg, 2 Julu 2019).
Emissions: From a capitalist perspective, the role of emissions in the financial market is a prime focus of attention -- now extended to carbon emissions trading. Carefully neglected are those emissions associated with waste -- especially when this may involve costly recycling. It is of course the case that emissions figure to a remarkable degree in the implications of "fucking" and the excretion of "shit" and "crap" as bodily waste. Are those deprecated as "assholes" to be considered especially associted with such emissions? Stranger still is the sense in which "bullshit" may be emitted in discourse -- "from the other end", namely as a production of the head ((Sins of Hot Air Emission, Omission, Commission and Promission: the political challenge of responding to global crises, 2009).
Attractive opportunity: Both from the capitalist and arsenalist perspectives there is an overriding preoccupation with investment in attractive opportunities -- namely with the acquisition of assets or "ass". A "great opportunity" for the former is comparable with perception of a "great ass" in the latter case. The temptation is to grasp the opportunity whenever it is presented. Far less evident is how the attraction functions as a "strange attractor" in cognitive terms. With its association to a hole of some kind -- possibly a loophole inviting exploration -- it would seem to function as a form of gateway to experience of a higher order, a magical garden or a Holy Grail of the highest value.
"Bloodiness"? Slang makes extensive use of "bloody". From an arsenalist perspective this implies both a reference to violence and to the menstrual blood with which so many taboos are associated. The former implication is borrowed in various critiques of capitalism, which is otherwise presented as a largely bloodless, blameless engine of human prosperity as noted by Owen Jones (Condemn communists’ cruelties, but capitalism has its own terrible record, The Guardian, 26 July 2018). Examples include: Trevor Rayne (The Bloody Origins of Capitalism, Revolutionary Communist Group, 11 November 2016; Mark O'Brian, The Bloody Birth of Capitalism, International Socialism, 70, 1996; Camilla Rostvik, Bloody capitalism and the cash flow of the menstrual cycle, Wellcome Collection, 11 December 2019). Strangely, the compassionate nature of caring, associated with "the heart", calls upon reference to blood -- most notably in the main eucharistic liturgical service of Christianity in which reference is made to sacrificial significance of body and blood.
Punishment: There is a curious relation between notions of "capital punishment" and those forms applied to the "backside" through besting (Om P Murty, Physical beating on buttocks in adults, Journal of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology January 2010). From an arsenalist perspective, most notable (and least discussed) are the various forms of rape, including male rape, use of animals, and the insertion of objects into the various orifices.
Inequality: The capitalist and arsenalist domains share an overriding preoccupation with "being great again" by comparison with others. Greatness in the capitalist worldview is frequently indicated by rankings on lists, most notably the Forbes Lists (Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest people in the United States; The World's Billionaires). The focus may be on corporations (Dana Hanson, Here Are The 20 Richest Companies and Corporations In The World Today, MoneyInc, 2019), on the military and their arsenals, or on patent registration. with respect to architcture, the focus may be on the tallest buildings. In academia it may focus on articles published. In the case of arsenalists, emphasis may be placed on the number of women "fucked" or the size of a harem. Particular emphasis may be placed on the size of the penis -- a preoccupation with "size matters" curiously echoing that of skyscrapers and rockets.
Productivity: Potentially the most convoluted form of entanglement is that associated with the "production" which is both so fundamental to the economic profitability of capitalism and to the instincts characteristics of arsenalism -- namely "reproduction". Curiously the first is framed metaphorically by many references to the "heart" (John W. Snow, The Heart of the Economy, The Wall Street Journal, 15 February 2006; Philippe de Woot, Innovation at the heart of the economy, Responsible Innovation, 2016; Fabian Wehnert, The heart of the German economy, BDI, 2016).
Ths second is however especially enabled by reference to the compassionate "affairs of the heart", even though "reproduction" is intimately associated with the genitalia (the "reproductive organs") central to the arsenalist domain. The first is severely constrained on a long-term basis by the production of waste (via the arsenalist domain). Claims to the unrestrained capacity to reproduce engender analogous constraints, as may be variously argued (Local Reality of Overcrowding -- Global Unreality of Overpopulation: comprehensible reframing of engagement with global issues via metaphors of proximity, 2019). Capitalist production is complicit in the unchallenging interpretation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The negligence of both extremes suggests the need for a more radical understanding, as argued separately (Universal Declaration of Fucking Rights: a fundamental extension of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for a civilization blinded by euphemism? 2016).
Toilet roll hoarding: Widespread astonishment has been expressed at the competitive quest for toilet rolls as a citizen response to the coronavirus pandemic in many countries (Rationing and Robbery: Coronavirus outbreak sparks toilet roll panic, Reuters, 6 March 2020). Images of empty supermarket shelves have been circulated; their sale has been rationed on a per customer basis (Violinists Play Sinking Titanic Hymn In Empty Toilet Paper Aisle, Unilad, 19 March 2020). Explanations of the focus on this consumer product have been inadequate -- the phenomenon has been held to be mysterious.
Arguably the process reflects the nature of the unexplored entanglement between "capitalism" (and its promotion of dependence on consumerism) and "arsenalism" (with its preoccupation with another locus of priority concern to many). The entanglement has been appropriately celebrated through poetic humour on a national news channel in Australia -- a country traditionally free from prudish constraint (The Ballad of Dunny Roll, ABC Comedy , March 2020).
|Conjoining the Incommensurables at the WEF Davos Forum of 2023
Freudian Economics underlying Stakeholder Capitalism
The World Economic Forum is renowned for its promotion of "stakeholder capitalism", as articulated by its founder Klaus Schwab (Stakeholder Capitalism: a global economy that works for progress, people and planet, 2021; What is stakeholder capitalism? World Economic Forum, 22 January 2021). The irony of any potential Freudian connotations is ignored.
As previously, the role of prostitutes at the Davos Forum is variously noted by the media:
Sexual harassment by wealthy men at WEF is allegedly so common that women are advised not to go out alone (Davos 2020: Claims of sexual harassment and use of sex workers during gathering, I News, 23 March 2020).
From Freudian Economics to Planetary Impalement?
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