Pointing and Patriarchy
The process of 'engendering '--which in English means something like 'bringing into
reality'--is itself an act of giftgiving prior to gender. The gift is the living child
her/him self. Then the boy child is given 'away' because he receives what seems to be
a material 'gift,' which is not given to girls--by which greater value is given to him.
The 'gift' that privileges its possessor from the beginning is the penis. Rereading
Freud's Oedipal stage from the point of view of the gift paradigm would allow this
interpretation. But the child is not adapted to creatively 'receive' his social superiority
at such an early age. Many questions about it must come to his mind, as Freud speculated.
The logical possibilities involved in this 'gift' and its source are all problematical.
If it came from the mother, she gave what she did not have, or she gave up her own.
If it came from the father, he gave what he did not lose. Since the penis is the
'property' that removes the child from the category of his giftgiving mother, he
gives up a lot for it (he gives up his human giftgiving potential).
In fact, it is his ongoing experience of nurturing that gives a content to whatever
categories the boy may be forming, including his own identity. Telling him that he
belongs to a gender category which does not nurture defines him as outside of the
life process he is experiencing. Definitions and models of masculinity are attempts to
give the male gender category a content when, outside nurturing, there is little content
to be had. The very structure of the definition and of naming become the backbone of the
masculated identity as a social ideal.
There are, of course, many individual variations to this story, and fortunately,
things are changing. Now because of feminism, many men have chosen to take part in child care. Stronger and
more conscious mothers, less emphasis on masculinity in some families, and
more nurturing male role-models are changing the education of children in
the US and elsewhere. The legacy of masculation in the society is great, however,
and continues to be played out in social structures and rebroadcast back
into the family. Themes of male violence and domination pervade our imagination
on television, in films and in reality. Crimes of rape, battery and murder
continue to be perpetrated against women and children. Secret horrors are
perpetrated beneath benign surfaces. 'Perfect' fathers rape and torture
their children at home. The School of the Americas trains foreign soldiers
in torture and fascism. The CIA destabilizes countries through deniable
bribery, torture and murder. Endemic poverty, resulting in the death of
millions, continues to be created by giving to the few. Wars continue
to be fought, devastating human lives throughout the globe. The environment
is degraded daily by the long-term pollution created by business and war.
Whatever the less masculated exceptions at the individual level, the
great social mechanism of patriarchy is hurting everyone and must be radically
changed. It is towards this mechanism that women and their allies among
caring men must turn their attention. We all have to understand how the
mechanism works in order to be able to change it successfully. And in
order to understand it we must look at it, though the view may cause us some
discomfort. Otherwise, even with the greatest good will, we risk recreating
its parts and structures. For example, even conscious men may unwittingly
propose the one-many relation that is so deeply etched in our society. By
taking the place of women as models, they recreate the structure of the
problem. Women, by allowing their place to be taken, comply once more.
Figure 24. Pointing iconically repeats the concept
process and projects it on the world.
Icon and Index1
Years ago, when I was thinking about the one-many
concept structure, I came in contact with the work of Tran Duc
Thao,2 a Vietnamese philosopher who believed that language derived
from the gesture of pointing. Applying it to the issues I was
dealing with, I made a discovery of the obvious. I realized that pointing
is a one-many gesture, and that it foregrounds one item of a
kind, the index finger, while backgrounding others of the same
kind, the other fingers. In this way, it is actually an icon--a
visual, tactile, and kinesthetic re-presentation of the relation
between the sample and the relative items in concept formation. Just
point your finger; you'll see what I mean.
The gesture has two functions; it incites us both to
pick out something from a background of other things and to see
it as potentially namable or shareable, as one of a kind of
thing. The index elicits an external one-many relation in a sort
of 'this is here--and there' projection of its own image.
(See Figure 24.) The foregrounding of something on the external
is confirmed by becoming shareable (and understandable) as
a relation between one item and others of the same kind,
and one item and a background. However, it is also
shareable because we are each giving our attention to the same
thing. There is a sort of projection of the one-many icon onto
the world beyond the hand--almost as if the item that was
pointed at was pointing back. I thought of Michelangelo's God
and Adam. (See Figure 25.)
This led me also to speculate that we identify the penis
with the index finger, making it appear as another index itself. We
give the boy the name 'male' because he has this index and
women, including the mother, do not. We say he is part of that
category, because he is like the father, or he has that index, like the
father. Perhaps another reason for phallic supremacy is that
we (mistakenly) attribute the characteristics of the index to
the penis. If the child's penis is indicated as an item, pointed at as
a pointer, it may appear to be a sample, already in a
one-many relation with other items of the same kind.
Of course, the father's is different, and much larger
than his--so that, in comparison, it would have to be the sample
and the child's one of the items in the series. The relation
among penises then becomes a competitive relation among
sample pointers or indexes--those things which can indicate
other samples, making 'reality' in their image.
Figure 25. God points at Adam, Adam points back.
If we add to this the fact that the phallus is socially
invested with superiority as the mark of the privileged category 'male,'
we can see how the similarity between the father's genitals and
the boy's have a great deal of significance. The index finger, the
penis and the concept sample (especially the sample of 'male' and
of 'mankind') are collapsed into each other. Too much value is
given to similarity, and especially to similarity to the father, because
the instrument for picking out samples--the index, which is an
icon of its own activity--is identified with the 'mark' that picks
out males from a background of women.
The penis thus becomes the icon of the index and of
the sample. As icon of the sample as such, it can generalize to be
icon of any sample, and with it of the concept
itself.3 While there is already a one-many relation among the fingers of the hand, this
is not the case with the penis. The individual's member is
Figure 26. "That is a peach."
in a comparative relation with other males' and a competition
is established to be taken as the 'mark' of superiority or have
sample status among them, becoming the sample of samples--as if to
say "Which finger will be the index?"
Actually, the sample is falsely invested with superiority.
In Vigotsky's experiment, any member of the category could be
used as 'sample.' The polarity that is established for the concept
is simply functional to finding the 'common quality,' and the
sample must be similar to the other items for that purpose, not superior
A contradiction occurs when in sex men point this pointer
at women's 'lack' of the pointer, and it becomes larger in
the erection. 'Having' becomes identified with having the penis
and the pointer, while 'lacking' becomes identified with lacking
the penis, exclusion from the category of 'samples,' and (almost)
an inability to reason conceptually (lacking the sample
pointer perhaps appears to imply that we cannot point out
'samples').4 Both conditions become eroticized for men, who act out
their masculated gender role in a scenario of over-taking and
Missing the Point
If women are seen as lacking the penis pointer, they
would seem to be non-verbal or pre-verbal, pre-conceptual, without
the (body) concept sample, and thus wordless as well. Still, they
can be related to the penis as many to one, as in the case of
Don Juan, who has to point out how many he has 'had.' If women are
pre-verbal (point-less), perhaps they are just the purveyors
of dependent bliss, things, as opposed to the father's incarnate
word. The father supersedes the mother, even as sample of the
verbally competent human. She is dispossessed of the capacity to
give even language to her children. Perhaps, as the
patriarchal ancients believed, she is his possession, chattel, and only
a mechanical transmitter of culture, an empty vessel, a
mechanism handing down the fathers' word, culture, law.
She can relate herself as thing to word, by giving to
the male and by standing out, drawing attention, making him
point at her. Or as his 'property,' she can point him out as
sample thing and privileged 'one.' Her beauty, which makes other
men point at her, points him out as important, because he 'has'
her. The appearance of being pre-verbal is important because
it makes giftgiving appear to be only infantile ('effete'). Is this
an element in men's sexual abuse of children? And think of
Marilyn Monroe's baby face.
The equation between the penis and the index finger
would contribute to convincing us that men are the 'samples' of
the 'human' concept and that women cannot be 'samples'
because we are lacking that pointer. The penis is really not an
index, however, and is not necessary for conceptual thinking.
The index finger does a much better job because it is a better
icon, since the other items of the series, the fingers, are part of
the same hand and are drawn back in order to allow the index
to point. In much the same way we background other items in
our surroundings and other items of the series. Moreover, the
index is directed by the will.
Making the penis relative to other people's penises, as
series or as sample, places one's own item in contrast and
competition with those of others beyond oneself. (See Figure 27.) Since this
is the situation for others as well, and since there is a
gender mandate to be the sample, others of that kind, members of
that class, may appear to be dangerous and threaten to hurt or
castrate the boy child, so as to eliminate him from competition.
Perhaps this is what appears to have happened to females.
Figure 27. Competition among the members of the category of index 1's.
Knives, arrows, guns, and other death-dealing phallic
symbols have the ability to eliminate competitors for sample status. If
we look at how guns are made, we can see that the index pulls
back to pull the trigger, becoming for a moment one of
the backgrounded many fingers of the hand of the marksman,
and allowing the phallic gun with its lethal index-projectile to take
its place, indicating the death of the other, speaking the loud
'word' which, like the naming of gender, places the other into the
alien non-communicating and non-pointing category of the dead.
I have always wondered about the double meaning of the
word 'arms.' Now I can see that 'arms' are those things that end
in deadly pointers, but in our denial we obediently do not get
The 'Heil Hitler' salute is perhaps the negative apotheosis
of the relation between the one ('superior') sample penis and
the many. Hitler used that 'mark' to manipulate the one-many
process making himself into the self-styled 'sample'of the
category 'German'or 'Aryan.' He did this to unite the many to
Figure 28. The Nazi salute is a clear example of one-many phallic arms.
obliterate other human categories, in an attempt to become
the concept sample for the human race. (See Figure 28.)
The raised clenched fist perhaps shows the unity of
the many--but I still read it as a penis symbol. The jabbing
pointed finger is authoritarian, accusatory. Indeed, it has a lot
in common with the violent penis, penetrating the space of
the 'other.' (See Figure 29.) Instead, perhaps we could simply use
our pointing index fingers to show that we are all humans able
to single out one finger from the others, and to identify one of
a kind as a sample outside ourselves--united as a species in
our ability to know, to know together, and to share our
perceptions and our gifts.
Breasts are actually formed in two points equal to each
other in the same person, like our own two hands, or two
pointing fingers--and both of them point towards others to give milk.
The image of two equal giving pointers is a powerful archetype
for society. Perhaps passing through the intermediate stage of our
two index fingers, the two points have been transposed
and transformed into symbolic points, some of which are definitely
less benign. The symbol of horns has long been sacred, and
could represent two equal (and dangerous) symbolic penises on the
head of the bull, and equally (thus finally resolving the difference
of gender) on the head of the cow. Unfortunately, horns
point outwards to harm. Wings on both male and female birds might
also be seen as symbolic transpositions of equality. The beak is
Figure 29. The many point at the one pointer,
repeating the concept pattern in the group dynamic.
phallic symbol, and 'bird' is a colloquialism for phallus in
Perhaps these and other syncretic symbols helped to ease
the anxieties of ancient children, who may have been as damaged
by masculation then as we are now. Women's breasts point
towards others, to nurture, while masculated men's penises point
towards others to find or impose their own identity. They
measure themselves against others to find their equality, or their
superiority as 'more.' Becoming the sample, they penetrate for their
own aggrandizement, sometimes to cause pleasure to the other,
but sometimes violently, to cause pain, or symbolically as guns
and missiles, to kill.
Real giving from the point is milk from the nipple, the
first visual, kinesthetic and tactile (as well as gustatory and
olfactory) foregrounding and backgrounding experience of the child.
Not only is the nipple erectile, but the milk actually comes from it.
Our attention does not flow from our index finger. We have
invented pens, from which ink flows to write words, so that not just
the sample things are visible out there on the external with
object constancy but also sample words.6
The pointing finger participates in several modes
of signification at the same time. It is the prototypical 'index' and is
a physical 'icon' of the one-many concept on the plane of
metaphor, repeating in the human body a distinction that is also being
made in the external world. Then the pointing finger can actually
be used to touch the object of attention, setting up
potential contiguity with the object, thus creating a situation of
Moreover, the act of drawing back some fingers in order
to push one of them forward repeats metaphorically in the hand
the social situation in which some people give up their position
in order to allow another to be the sample. They serve the one
by giving-way, holding themselves in check. The combination
and shifting of modes has an almost mechanical process aspect
like exchange, and like the definition, which may give the
appearance of an automatic attribution of value through substitution.
However, the shift into exchange substitutes the logic
of substitution for the logic of giftgiving as a whole. The shift
from icon to index, from metaphor to metonymy, and
from representation to implementation of the concept with
the potential of actually touching the external sample (or
beckoning it to come forward) is not a complete shift into the logic
of substitution. The iconic re-presentation of the concept by
the one-many relation of the fingers does not replace the sample
it points at, but only serves to foreground it for the
moment.8 It only adds another dimension to the plane of giftgiving and
linguistic communication, and it often serves both of them.
Verbal and Non-Verbal Pointers
The foregrounding and backgrounding activity of nursing
at the breast is repeated with the second breast, as well as again
and again in time. Perhaps the two nurturing points of the
breasts serve as an early icon for the communicative character of
the repetition of sounds. The breasts are two identifiable material
gift sources which are part of the body of the mother. Then the
early word 'Mama'is used for the mother as a whole as 'Papa' for
the father as a whole. For babies who are not breast-fed baby
bottles may be similarlythough not as poeticallyiconic.
The words 'Mama' and 'Papa' occur in many languages,
as Roman Jakobson says in a famous essay, "Why 'Mama'
and 'Papa.'"9 Jakobson explains the fact that the consonants used
in forming these first words are few, by the ease the child has
in forming them and by the suggestion that the 'm' and 'n'
sounds evolve from the sounds and movements the child makes
when sucking the breast. To me, the most interesting thing about
these words is the repetition of the phonemes. The repetition occurs
in many words we use with children, words which
are psychologically important for them (for example: 'ba-by,'
'yum-yum,' 'poo-poo.') Many children distort words while they
are learning to talk, creating a double syllable: 'car-car.' Jakobson
says that the repetition of the syllable identifies the word as a word
in the midst of non-linguistic sounds and that it is an expression
of repeatability itself.
We could look at the repetition of sounds within a word as
an icon of the repeatability of the word. That is, the word 'Mama'
in its different instances contains in itself an example of the
fact that the things which are sounds can be similar to each other
and that they are important for that reason. (Things which are
gifts can also be important because of their repeatability.) The
same relation of similarity that exists between 'Ma' and 'Ma'
exists between the whole word 'Mama' and other instances of the
whole word 'Mama.' The word 'Ma-ma' is like one suitcase that
contains two suitcases--proving in itself that the larger suitcase is
not unique: there are indeed other objects of the same kind. Like
the bottle Alice found in Wonderland, which had 'Drink me'
written on it, the word 'Mama' implies 'Repeat me.' (See Figure 30.)
Like the index, 'Ma-ma' and 'Pa-pa' change modes. There is
a shift from inside the word 'Ma-ma' to outside it in its
other instances. An inductive leap must be made in order to
consider the different events which are different instances of a word,
'one thing' which is repeated. The internal repetitions of 'Mama'
and 'Papa' support this leap. The very repeatability of
'Ma-ma' corresponds to the child's developing sense of object
constancy, the expectation that the experience of the mother is
repeatable, and that she continues to exist in her absence. The word is
always available to be spoken, and the mother is available to
experience somewhere. Then there is another shift from icon to index:
Figure 30. The repeatability inside the present word is an icon of the
repeatability outside the present word. Language works because we consider different instances
of the same word as a single 'thing.'
the icon of repeatability in 'Ma-ma' becomes index of the
mother, and actually calls her, makes her point at it and the child
by coming. The child becomes her destination, the destination
of her 'sample!'
There are other examples of the use of repetitions.
Many gestures contain them, for example, nodding or shaking
one's headwhich makes gestures similar to children's early
words. Some languages use the repetition of a syllable in the
words which stand for 'the people' (and 'peo-ple' itself is
an example)--for example 'Shoshone' or 'Mau mau.' It is as if
the words themselves were saying, "This is a group of beings
for whom repetitions have a value." Onomatopoetic words
for animal sounds, such as 'bow wow' for dogs or 'peep peep'
for chickens, also contain repetitions. Maybe children like them
so much because it seems that the baby animals are also
saying their first words.
The self-referential, internally repetitive character of
'Mama' and 'Papa' provides a sort of clue, a minimum instruction
booklet for language learning. The relation internal to the word is
iconic with the relation external to the word, with respect to its
other instances, and with implications regarding the constancy
or repeatability of things in the external world. Similarly, the
gesture of pointing implies a relation of things outside it to each other.
Moreover, both the child's words and the pointing
gesture take place in a context of others, so that 'Mama' is heard and
used by others as repeatable, and the 'same thing.' The gesture
of pointing also functions for others as an indication for picking
out something from a background. As the child grows, the fact
that there is a repeatable sound similarity that can be given
and received for something draws her attention to an
experience, makes it 'come forward' (point back). It is an indication of
an importance, an attribution of value. The equality of the
sounds may seem to be important on its own but actually derives
its importance from the fact that we use the repeatable sounds
as substitute gifts. The changes of planes from internal to
external and from icon to index for the gesture or the word are also
given value by the fact that others use them in the same way.
Money repeats the icon-index shift of the pointing finger.
It is like the finger, in that it is an icon of the one-many
relation, though at a much more complex level. It is the
general equivalent, the one commodity which stands for all the
others.10 And it too shifts into action, creating contiguity by actually
going to the other person, enacting substitution by replacing
her product. Money is also like the word in its repeatability
and present singularity. Like a word, it can be many places at the
same time. Each 'denomination' is both one thing and many. As I
write this sentence, I pick up a US coin to look at it again and see
the words written on it: E pluribus
unum: out of many, one.
Passages to other levels are significant. Perhaps stairs are
their embodiment, and our own repeated stair step dream action
in REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep repeats shifts of 'levels.'
Music provides a rhythm of shifts, of changes of emphasis,
of foregrounding and backgrounding. The conductor's baton
waves; the music points back. The index is easily a 'sign of itself.'
In 'conducting,' each time you move the finger or baton, it is again
a sample that can call forth another sample.
The visitor from outer space could make a collection
of commonplace artifacts by which to understand our
strange society. Our clocks are made with two or three indexes
pointing out different sized units of time. The index-knife is helped by
the little hand of supporting fingers, which is the fork. Then there
are the scythe, the pitchfork, and the hoe, all variations on
the theme, and we can actually look through the index in
the telescope and microscope. Phallic symbols all have a
resonance with the index, and it is hard to tell which is which. For
example, the 'rod' the child is beaten with is a phallic over-taker
and supposedly points out to him or her what not to do.
It is interesting to look at the mechanisms of various kinds
of weapons as transpositions of the gesture of pointing. For
example, in the bow and arrow one hand serves metaphorically as
the fingers, drawing back the bowstring, then letting the arrow fly,
as a transposed index, which points out the sample in the
world beyond the hands, and actually becomes contiguous to it. .
. penetrating it, to kill. (The target, with its bull's eye, looks like
a two-dimensional breast 'pointing back.') Pulling the trigger of
a gun brings the index back to the group of the other
fingers, backgrounds it, while foregrounding another index, the
gun barrel, and a transposed index, the bullet.
By pointing, we single out something on the external as
an individual or as one of a kind. The fingers can be looked at
in this way as well, each individually or as one of the fingers of
the hand. In counting on our fingers, we can raise them one by
one or point at them one by one with the index of the other
hand. (See Fig. 31.)
Figure 31. Counting on our fingers, we point out each finger in turn as
the sample 'one.'
Shifting into Context
Sometimes the gesture of pointing is seen as deriving from
an attempt to grasp, but grasping can be seen as part of a giving
and receiving interaction. The other person's point of view
as potential giver or receiver is available for us to take and
the object pointed at becomes something which can potentially
be given and received or related to words which can be given
and received. It stands out, discontinuous from its background, and
its singularity or plurality may well become relevant to the
giver's gesture as well as to the receiver's
grasp.11 The gesture ofindication does not make us see, but allows us to see what
the other person sees through analogy. It foregrounds
something, making it more accessible and adding a new character,
its interpersonal value. Pointing identifies the object as a value
for others and for oneself--which is also a gift because we are able
to creatively receive it.
Pointing is a many-layered sign. It is self-assertive in
its capacity to be other-referential. The index finger is both a
re-presentation and an active implementer of concepts, which
it does as a sample pointing out samples (ones). Thus pointing
may sometimes appear to be the initial moment and motivation of
the gift, creating the illusion that the gift is an outcome or offshoot
of a gesture of self-expression rather than the result of a
motion towards the needs of the other. For example, we may believe
that self-assertion and its products are the basis of gifts which are
there to 'take' through our own self-assertion, rather than that they
are the result of someone's, or the collective's, need-directed
work. We attribute value to the self-reflecting moment and shift
of levels in the pointing person's process.12
The problem of the misidentified source which arises
with masculation permeates all our interpersonal relations. Here
the transfer of attention from one mode to another, from icon
to action, metaphor to metonomy may seem to
'automatically' increase something's use value for us. The increase in
usefulness actually occurs because the gesture brings in others on
another plane, however. In this, pointing is similar to exchange, and
to the objectified definition where there seems to be a transfer
of meaning or value from one term to the other without
human actors. Instead, in exchange and in definition, a material or
a communicative need is being satisfied by someone with the
kind of thing others use for that purpose in the
Gestures, words and money as means of communication are the result
of processes involving others and are the basis for further processes.
The self-similarity of one's own gesture is reinforced by
the similarity of others' gestures to it. The shifting of modes
of foregrounding, from icon to index, both of which present
the one-many structure, is repeated by a shift from re-presentation
to implementation of the concept relation, and from the
personal onto the interpersonal plane, where others repeat it as well.
That is, one's own pointing finger stands for and together
with everyone else's pointing fingers which, perhaps together with
all the fingers that are not pointing (the rest of the fingers in
the hands) function as many regarding that one. This is seen
when the fact that others are also pointing is recognized.
Everything else that could be pointed at as a topic is also potentially
related to the present topic and the finger. The self-similarity and
the shift may appear to be the source of new value, but value
actually arises because others are already using pointing, attributing
value individually and collectively.
Self-similarity with the index is suggested also in the
seriality of words, each of which is foregrounded for a moment in
the present, to be superseded by another and another. (And
each written sentence ends pointedly with a period.) Each word is
also in a 'one many' exclusive relation with all the others it is not.
It maintains its distinctive character as opposed to the other
words in the sentence--which said, also cooperate and give to
each other. The relations external to a word are similar to the
relations external to the pointing finger. Similar words or gestures are
said or done by others, under their own volition. We point
at something and others can also point at it. We say something,
and others can use the same words, to which similar things are related.
The community-forming giftgiving way does not
consist primarily in the shifting of levels but in using the shifts,
the levels, the originals and/or substitutes for the common
satisfaction of needs. The mechanism is interesting: the
icon-index mechanism is self-similar with the concept structure at a
different level, and the thing pointed at seems to have that structure
as well. The value of the process, however, comes from the access
it gives to the group. It is because others also point for others
that an individual's pointing is significant. Part of the motivation
for pointing is the inclusion of the other as an active giver
of attention (or value) to the same thing--which has the
side-effect of socializing one's own attention.
Pointing, like the use of a word, creates a mutually
inclusive relation with others regarding (literally) something. We are in
a context; there are others 'out there' who can point and respond
to our gestures, give to and receive from us through ostension.
The communicative process passes through a self-similar moment
and brings about a higher level of cooperation.
1Semioticians distinguish among three kinds of signs: icons correspond to their object through isomorphism, or similarity; indexes incur a relation of dependency between the sign and its object; symbols refer to their objects by rules and associations of ideas. The Linguistics Encyclopedia, Kirsten Malmkjaer, editor, London: Routledge, 1991, p. 400.
2Tran duc Thao, Recherches sur l'Origine du Langage et de la Conscience, Paris: Editions Sociales, 1973.
3Though its phallic character is somewhat disguised, the black monolith in
2001: A Space Odyssey seems to me to be an icon of the 'sample,' and the far-reaching
effects the monolith had in the movie are comparable to the effects produced by
human contact with our own phallically-invested concept-forming cognitive processes.
The development of tools, armaments and space ships may indeed be due to our
over-use of this phallic concept 'sample.' The phallic investment of the 'sample' is
artificial and alien, coming from the imposition of gender through masculation. We
can imagine a non-competitive, nurturing, non-phallic technology based on a
mother-or breast-invested 'sample' (flying saucers?). Or perhaps we could simply divest
sexually from our 'samples' altogether.
4Having the pointer, which corresponds to the index and can increase, gives
a physical and psychological basis for an obsession with measurement and
quantification and the emphasis on the question of quantitative equality and inequality.
5Male pleasure thus reinforces the kind of thinking involved in the definition and
the definition of gender as played out in the male dominant sex act. (This emphasis
was suggested by Susan Bright.) The fact that not all sexuality functions in this
way provides hope for liberation from masculation, or at least humanizes it.
6In fact, the type-token distinction dear to linguists and philosophers may be seen
as deriving from the fact that every present voiced word is a 'sample' of the absent words
of the same kind. Moreover each time we look at a written word it is a
'sample'which remains constant on the external. Thus (like an index or a phallus), the
'token'properly just one of the manywould be a 'sample' already, and we would take it
as standing for an abstract group or type. Then we generalize to other things which,
because of their materiality, may actually be present as relative items together with the item
taken as equivalent and 'sample.' The type then (because we are seeing all the instances
as samples) seems to be an abstract category, which we may impute to some kind of
brain pattern or activity (shifting levels there, too).
7The plane of metaphor functions according to similarity and substitution, while
the plane of metonymy functions through contiguity (serving as the context for
something else). See Roman Jakobson's discussion of this basic distinction, op. cit., Ch. 7, "Two Aspects of Language and Two Types of Aphasic Disturbances."
8The index is 'one,' like money, which 'points' at each thing as one of a kind
and gives it the price of that kind on the market.
9In Roman Jakobson, Ibid., Ch. 19.
10Money alters the neutrality of the equation between itself and commodities
because it is a constant standard. Similarly the equation between men and women is
not neutral because men are the standard.
11When comparing our shared reality with what can be seen with the instruments
of technology, we can see that atoms are not gifts but collections of points.
Rearranging atoms through nanotechnology could create a situation of abundance whereby
all needs could be effortlessly satisfied by all. Giving material gifts would become as
easy as communicating through language. Unfortunately, the artificial needs created
by masculation make the ease of manipulating atoms extremely dangerous.
Weapons satisfying the needs of masculation could be made as easily as bread. In Nano, The Emerging Science of
Nanotechnology, New York, Little, Brown and Co., 1995, Ed
Regis depicts individual masculated uses: "You'd have your gigantically overbuilt
human bodies, your four-wheel-drive humanoids with their jacked-up muscles, their
oversize penises, and God only knew what else," p. 18. A woman-based gift economy
is necessary for the human use of nanotechnology.
12By analogy we may believe that the male sex act with its shifts of levels,
fore-groundings and back-groundings, is the source of children who are merely
the consequences of men's process of 'self-assertion.'
13For example, bread is the material thing we and others use to satisfy the
culturally specific material need for bread, and 'bread' is the word we and others usually use
to satisfy the communicative need regarding bread among speakers of English.
Certain quantities of money constituting its collectively identified price are exchanged
for bread, satisfying the culturally specific economic distorted co-municative need for
the means of exchange, regarding bread.