A Rhetorical Journey into Darkness

My overall assessment is that Jennifer MacLennan's essay on crime-scene analysis as viewed in the light of Burke's dramatism makes for a rich, detailed, and generally convincing analogue. Obviously, if Burke's take on human symbolic action has validity, a dramatistic critic can dig up spadefuls of drama in any set of discourses. As she makes clear, though, MacLennan explores not just the way the pentad-related "who, what, when, where, and why questions" pervade the how-to-do-it books of the sleuths who solve serial murders. She unveils "deeper connections" and similarities. Both John Douglas and Robert Ressler, her primary guides in the hunt for what are superficially thought to be motiveless killings, have "assembled . . . a grammar of the symbolic elements of violent crime," a "language of the crime scene," that mirrors many of Burke's primary insights.

Some of those points of overlap between Burke and especially Douglas include:

Treatment of human actions as symbolically infused.

Emphasis on the "situatiod nature of symbolic acts," the "motivational force of the scene-act ratio."

The profound and predictive relationships among agent, attitude, and act.

Use of drama as "an analytic framework."

Stress upon form as "a manifestation of human desire."

"Estrangement" as "the origin" of the "most desparate" strategies of "redemption and reidentification" the criminals in question seek through "victimage."

The "fundamentally rhetorical" nature of serial murders, their character as acts of addressment.

These experts in crime-scene profiling employ different terminology, to be sure. Their conceptualizations are, however, strikingly reflective of Burke's approach to language and rhetoric, MacLennan effectively argues.

That's an overview. Let's get into some of the author's more specific probes in a later post.

Ed

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A Rhetorical Journey into Darkness

MacLennan's lengthy introduction, like her analysis in general, displays a sound grasp of Burke's philosophy. I'll draw attention later to one or two claims she makes that could provoke discussion. Across the broad sweep of her paper, though, she, like Hubler, provides a useful primer in Burke's dramatism. For MacLennan, Burke, and Douglas, "symbolic acts" equal "rhetorical texts that can be read and interpreted using dramatistic methods." "As Burke notes," MacLennan continues, "while most of us communicate our messages through our verbal expression, 'others carve theirs out of jugular veins'" (P&C, p. 76). Plaudits to the author for tracking down that germane quotation.

MacLennan forecasts the major divisions of her treatment this way:

"Douglas links act and agent by a process of inference from the dominant ratios of SCENE-ACT and SCENE-AGENT. This link, Burke's AGENT-ACT ratio, is what enables the investigator to move from the features of scene to a profile of the offender. This emphasis on the ratios of SCENE-ACT and SCENE-AGENT, and by inference, of ACT-AGENT, is what marks profiling as a dramatistic method; the profiling studies the dynamic relationlships among act, scene, and agent in order to interpret the symbolic strategies embedded in the artifact" (emphasis added).

MacLennan goes on to deal with scene-agent ("The Symbol-Using Animal"), next with scene-act ("The Scene Contains the Act"), and then attitude-act, defining "attitude" as a "fusion of agent and act" ("The Dancing of an Attitude"). The final point in the proof of her argument is entitled "Attitude as Incipient Form." This last section of the body is the one I found most illuminating.

I'll take up that final analogy and insight first in my next post.

Ed

A Rhetorical Journey into Darkness

To get at the nexus between Burke and Douglas on the question of form, developed in MacLennan's culminating division entitled "Attitude as Incipient Form," we need to backtrack to her preceding section, "The Dancing of an Attitude." There she introduces Douglas's distinction between "signature," or "the encoding of attitude," and "modus operandi," the "encoding of agency." Signature is "'the unique element and personal compulsion' that is evidenced in the arrangement of the crime scene." It is the "symbolic" aspect of the criminal act, symbolic in the conventional, nonpragmatic sense of the term. It typifies who or what the killer thinks he is, makes THE statement, embodies THE message, he is sending to his "audience." "The form of the act is [thus] the expression of signature." It's the murderer's personal calling card, so to speak, his own specialized exploitation of available cultural icons and emblems. The MO, in contrast, serves a merely practical purpose.

The audience the killer addresses is comprised of the public, the media, the police, even himself. The criminal is "gratified by the signature sequence of the transformative act of scapegoating." It takes a "repetitive form" and is "predictive." In Burke's phrasing, it follows "'the arrows of desire which are turned in a certain direction,'" stimulating particular expectancies and then fulfilling them. "The plot of the offender's drama is [consequently] one of transformation, in which he redefines himself, the victim, and the social scene through a process of victimage." He turns the tables socially and politically. He is no longer the inadequate, no-account loser his culture has told him he is, in one way or another, again and again. He has finally, or once more, asserted power and control, albeit in a dangerously risky way. He's achieved personal satisfaction AND public celebrity in one fell (!) swoop.

Capable of only "partial acts" like other humans, MacLennan says in Burkean fashion, serial murderers are capable of only fleeting, "partial transformations." Their gratifications are only temporary. The "affirmations" they derive from their brute rituals of sacrifice must be sought again and again, commandeering as they kill, "logical extensions of the surrounding culture, of worldly ambition, of success or failure, and of manly avenging violence."

Sam Pekenpaugh (sp?), anyone? Rambo? A thousand and one TV shows, video games, and rap songs? Serial murders are acts in a scene, Burke would suggest, Douglas asserts, and MacLennan makes emphatic. "'The spirit of hierarchy,'" the "'scapegoat principle,'" social motives all, are recapitulated time-and-place-wise in the form of the crime, violently wrenched from their normative modes of expression, hideously caricatured in the victim's house, in a dark alley, by a roadside.

We could call crime-scene profiling dialectical as well as rhetorical, as explained by John Douglas, and interpreted by Jennifer MacLennan. It seeks an answer to the questions: Who or what is being answered, yes or no? Who or what is being opposed? Who or what are you defining yourself against? And especially, what's being compensated for, what difficulty, embarrassment, or weakness of position, actual or potential?

More anon.

Ed

A Rhetorical Journey into Darkness

I have one complaint to make about this essay, maybe two issues to raise of a Burkean nature, and perhaps one thought that might cut athwart, just a trifle, John Douglas's theory of crime-scene profiling.

Where's the bibliography for this article? Where's the list of references? Failing that, where is complete documentation, U. of Chicago style, in the endnotes? Several passages I tried to find in the sources mentioned I could not locate. There wasn't enough info. Was the Rueckert reference I hunted for to be found in KENNETH BURKE AND THE DRAMA OF HUMAN RELATIONS? It wasn't on the page listed, not in my copy of that work. What about the reference to "Interaction, Dramatism"? I figured this note had to do with the ENCYCLOPEDIA article, but wasn't sure.

Don't get me wrong. This piece is thoroughly, copiously documented in respect to volume of references. It's just not always easy to discover what publication those notes and page numbers are referring to.

One issue "Rhetorical Journey" raises, for me anyway, is that of Burke's definition of "motive." If I'm not mistaken, MacLennan seems to use the term to designate a reality of causation or motivation behind and undergirding the heinous actions of the serial killer. I don't think her interpretation is foreign to Burke, given the ambiguities inherent in his analysis of the wellsprings of action across his many books. I would just point out that Burke's primary point in the featuring of that term has to do with "interpretation" of reality, not reality itself. Note how Burke defines "motives" in P&C: They are "shorthand terms for [perceived] situations" and are derived from "our orientation in general." They are distinctively "linguistic products." Note, too, Burke's introduction of the pentad in GM. He underscores its ubiquity in the "attribution" of motives. Those attributions, given their tendency toward an entelechial highlighting of one or two terms over the others, will surely "deflect" from reality as well as possibly "reflect" reality.

In her discussion of motive, the author references Gusfield's SYMBOLS AND SOCIETY (note 62). Gusfield, though, on page 11, avers that "'motive' is a lingistic device, a concept by which the observer, including the self, explains and understands situations." Quoting Burke, he says, "'These relationships are not REALITIES, they are INTERPRETATIONS of reality---hence different frameworks of interpretation will lead to different conclusions as to what reality is'" (P&C, p. 35; emphasis not added).

Now, this does not mean that in the practical, quotidian search for motivations that the crime-scene profiler is involved in, Burke's take on motive is too academic and abstract. Pretty obviously, Burke's whole project is founded on the notion that there's potent motivational force in language use in and of itself. Language doesn't just construe motivations; it induces them, functions as a source of them. Burke's scheme is one of tamping down, moderating, the inherent excesses language seems to promote, driving the symbol-user too frequently to some end-of-the-line perfectionism that turns out to be counterproductive for persons and societies. Those entelechial compulsions are evidenced in spades in the savage symbolic actions of the serial killer.

So: Perhaps we can hierarchize Burke's notion of motive in this fashion:

"The motive is in the symbol" as attribution or interpretation.

"The motive is in the symbol" as cause, principle of selection, or "magical" inducement (see the opening of PLF).

"The motive is in the symbol" as reified in morally purposeful motion, human artifacts, and even symbolically inscribed nature (see "What Are the Signs of What," LASA). Actions, after all, Burke says, change the conditions of action.

More rants and expostulations later.

Ed

A Rhetorical Journey into Darkness

Here's a question for discussion, prompted by MacLennan's estimable essay: Are the scene-act and scene-agent ratios necessarily first among equals in Burke's dramatism? MacLennan seems to suggest that is the case. Burke certainly inaugurates his treatment of the ratios in GM by putting them front and center (pp. 3-15). And Burke does say, in the midst of this opening discussion of the pentad at work, "If we but look about us, we find examples of the two ratios [the two mentioned above] everywhere; for they are at the very centre of motivational assumptions" (p. 11). Proto- or quasi-postmodernist that he was, Burke surely put great stress on scene, situation, context, constraining environment, as causal or selective force, throughout his work.

Is such prioritizing necessarily implicit in dramatism, however? To put the issue another eay, is Burke's "system," as it's been somewhat risibly labeled, fundamentally materialistic? Or, if we reverse the scene-act correspondence (which we can readily do, since the addendum that came with the second edition was not there for the first one [pp. 443-44]), is Burke's dramatism essentially realistic, as Walter Fisher and some co-authors argued in an article in CSSJ, I believe it was? Burke does, in fact, so very frequently begin his explanation of dramatism with the term "act" in the forefront.

A few years back, I took, and argued for, a contrary position on the KB discussion list. My view was then, and still is, that dramatism/logology is something of a metasystem (there's that questionable characterization again) that embraces materialism (accent on scene), realism (accent on act), pragmatism (accent on agency), idealism (accent on agent), and mysticism (accent on purpose) without particular partiality (GM, pp. 127-320). And don't slight out of hand the "Neo-Stoic" attitude Burke urges at the conclusion of GM and elsewhere. How one explains the world pentadically, or hexadically, is pretty much up for grabs, isn't it? Or do we "grab" onto symbolic action must efficiently by making scene, or act, the "thumb" in Burke's opening metaphor in GM (pp. xv-xxiii), the digit without which the other four can't operate?

I throw that out for discussion, if anybody cares to join the fray.

Still more at a later time.

Ed

Primary ratios

If I'm understanding your question correctly, Ed, we have two quite different issues here. The first is whether Burke, himself, views the scene-act and scene-agent ratios as first among equals. My impression is that he views them as first, but not among equals. You and Jennifer MacLennan both observe that Burke places them "at the very centre of motivational assumptions." Furthermore, Burke adds a couple of pages later, "Elsewhere in the Grammar we shall examine two of these (scene-purpose and agency-purpose) in other connections; and the rest will figure in passing." To say that they figure only in passing would seem to imply that not all of the ratios are "equals."

But the other issue you raise is much more difficult for me to answer. "How one explains the world pentadically, or hexadically, is pretty much up for grabs, isn't it?" Yes, it is, and we certainly don't have to be limited by Burke's approach. On the other hand, we may find that the hand in Burke's opening metaphor is actually the most effective one. We may be needlessly handicapping ourselves by cutting off our thumbs.

In short, I think it makes sense to place our emphasis on the scene-act and scene-agent ratios, just as Jennifer MacLennan does and just as Burke seems to.

Tom

Primary Ratios

Tom makes some good points in his post. Certainly, if one takes it literally, the "first among equals" dictum is a contradiction. To be first is not actually to be equal to everyone else or every other thing in the group in question. That phrase really is a manner of speaking that has to be taken with a grain of salt. "You get the idea" is what it more or less implies as subtext.

Yes, as MacLennan suggests, Burke highlights "act" in his presentation of the pentad in particular and in his philosophy in general. See his definition of "dramatism" in the Merriam-Webster unabridged for further particulars. That emphasis should make dramatism/logology, though, more of a realistic philosophy than a materialism, pragmatism, idealism, or mysticism (see the lengthy treatment of the "philosophic schools" in GM). Realism "goes with," Burke asserts, an emphasis on "act."

Can we say such an emphasis is inherently preferable? All the terms of the pentad or hexad have their "blind spots," according to Burke's philosophy. The "entelechial" dimension of symbolic motivation (the "Five Dogs," etc.) almost inevitably results in this kind of "all or none" (ATH) thinking that places one term or concept front and center as globally explanatory. Is the "realist" who deflects motivational accountings away from, say, scenic causes (materialism), the natural proclivities of certain personality types (idealism), and/or consideration of the "at-handedness," "serviceability" (P&C), or beneficent functionality of certain tools or approaches (pragmatism) less given to the tunnel vision language promotes? I don't think so. "Realisic" constructions of what happens, or attributions of motivation, do not overall seem to be privileged by Burke, nor does it seem to me that they should be. (See, for instance, Barry Brummett's article on the gay rights controversy, way back in an issue of CSSJ, I think.)

That's the big problem I have with privileging "act" as pentadic "czar." Epistemically, it's not a "stand out," it seems to me, and Burke's trajectory of thought over the course of his career moved toward climactic concerns with the problem of knowledge.

Hey, let's open this question up for a lot more discussion.

Ed

A Rhetorical Journey into Darkness

Since we're on the subject of motivation---as in scene-act, scene-agent, and agent-act-cum-attitude---what are your thoughts on this question: Does Burke stint, in a culpable way, on the issue of nonverbal motivation? At a regional convention about a dozen years ago, I heard a well-known scholar impugn Burke for just that putative failing.

Now, Burke has defined himself as "just a word man" (Em Griffin, A FIRST LOOK AT COMMUNICATION, First Edition, chapter on Burke), not, by calling, given to the arcana of purely physiological drives. And he certainly can't be accused of neglecting the function of nonverbal causation in a general way. We cannot have action without motion, he readily concedes in his encyclopedia article. Burke even has allowed, in "Terministic Screens" (LASA) and elsewhere, that human beings may, in fact, actually but move, not act. (Bottom line, however: We will inevitably treat one another as morally accountable, acting beings, whatever the undergirding reality may be.) In CRITICISM AND SOCIAL CHANGE, Frank Lentricchia picks up on that concession (p. 115) and accords it some emphasis.

The philosophers of action of the rules perspective define physical action as "interference with causes in nature" (Toulmin, Taylor, etc.) Burke seconds that construction with his notion of "self-interference" (RM, "Pure Persuasion"). Nonverbal animals don't give evidence of such demonstrable human fastidiousness.

Still, what are the wellsprings of such self-disciplined muscular contractions, unique in the animal kingdom? Only the gossamer negative? Or an indeterminate blend of involuntary neural impulses and spiritual/mental intuitions and intentions?

Just asking.

Another thought: The theorists of crime profiling, MacLennan tells us, describe the typical serial killer as something of a living ganglion of irreconcilable contradictions (if you recognize that expression from G & S's HMS PINAFORE, you win the door prize). He (it's almost invariably a "he") knows deep down he's an inadequate failure, yet he harbors delusions of grandeur, a sense of outsized importance, at one and the same time.

Where does Ted Bundy, an almost paradigmatic specimen in terms of an insatiable compulsion to murder, fit into this scheme? He was a handsome guy with obviously a lot of talent. One judge told him he'd have made a great lawyer, if only he had chosen another path in life. He was an up-and-coming young Republican, present in some capacity at the 1972 Party Convention in Miami. "What about that guy?", as Dave Letterman would inquire. Where was Bundy's inherent inadequacy, other than in his twisted sense of values?

See ya' later alligators.

Ed

A Rhetorical Journey into Darkness

Man, we need to get some more people talking in here. But I’m getting a free Burke seminar, so I’m not complaining.

I’ll start by taking a shot at this question: “Does Burke stint, in a culpable way, on the issue of nonverbal motivation?” My answer would be yes. In the “symbol-using animal” perspective Burke holds, the emphasis is on “symbol-using,” not on “animal.” But we are animals at our core, and I believe that many of our motivations simply cannot be expressed in symbols. (Unfortunately, it’s very hard to give an example of such a motivation; my only tools for doing so are symbols.)

Perhaps more significantly, I believe Burke’s calling as “just a word man” led him to overstate the influence of language on social hierarchy. I know that statement seems incredible. The influence of language on social hierarchy, of course, is undeniably tremendous. But the influence goes both ways. Social hierarchy influences language as much as language influences social hierarchy. Indeed, I would guess that language is hierarchical in part because it developed in hierarchical communities.

Compare this statement with Burke’s claim that “in any order, there will be mysteries of hierarchy, since such a principle is grounded in the very nature of language, and reënforced by the resultant diversity of occupational classes” (Rhetoric 279). He attributes this to “the nature of man, generically, as a symbol-using animal” (Rhetoric 279).

But hierarchy, mysterious or not, is not grounded in the nature of language. Animals that don’t use symbols nevertheless live in hierarchical societies. Actually, I’m not aware of any animal societies—from bees to gorillas—that aren’t hierarchical. Granted, our symbols may enable us to develop finer gradations of hierarchies, but the hierarchical structures themselves were inevitable long before we thought of using symbols.

So what does all this have to do with the question above, which involves nonverbal motivation? I bring it up because some of our motivation relates to hierarchies. That seems to be the case with serial killers—murdering people is a way to climb the hierarchy. Their basic motivation may be no different from a corporate CEO’s, except that the serial killer’s methods are probably less humane.

I would argue that this was the case for Ted Bundy as much as for Ed Gein. “Where was Bundy's inherent inadequacy, other than in his twisted sense of values?” It was in his mind. The relevant factor isn’t a person’s placement in the hierarchy in any objective sense. It’s the person’s own view of his placement in the hierarchy that motivates him to climb it. By surrounding himself with people like those at the Republican National Convention, he may have come to view himself as inferior by comparison. Serial killing gave him “a means of empowering this inadequate personality,” as MacLennan quotes Douglas as saying.

Incidentally, I’m indebted to James Klumpp for his essay “Burkean Social Hierarchy and the Ironic Investment of Martin Luther King,” which inspired some of my thoughts on hierarchy. The mistakes I made in presenting Burke’s views are mine, of course, not his.

Tom

A Rhetorical Journey into Darkness

Oh, one other thing, while I'm thinking of it. My claim that Burke stints on the issue of nonverbal motivation doesn't mean that I believe Burke was unaware of this motivation. Quite the contrary. His work is peppered with references to it. In A Rhetoric of Motives, he argues that "Aristotle was seeking to distinguish between nonverbal motives (alogoi—appetites that would arise even if there were no such thing as language) and 'verbal' motives (para logou—appetitions depending upon language for their development, as with the 'new needs' that go with the change of human purpose from mere 'living' to 'living well')" (77). Later he comments, "The rhetoric [of Marxists] is words; the dialectic, being concerned with the non-verbal order of motives, could be equated with 'science'" (102).

But these passing references do not, in my view, weaken my original claim. His overall outlook is unquestionably verbal, to the extent that I believe he stints on the nonverbal.

A Rhetorical Journey into Darkness

Let me complete my series of comments on MacLennan's essay before I get around to Tom Wright's most recent posts.

I like the fact that MacLennan concludes her essay with a generic profile of the incipient serial killer, the practically "motiveless" murderer as a youth. Her piece thus follows something of a problem-solution pattern of arrangement. "How can we put a stop to the carnage?," she asks.

These "unprovoked violent crimes," MacLennan summarizes, "have become a form of public communication in which the message is one of 'domination, manipulation, and control' not just of the victim, but of the police, the media, and the public." Acts in a scene, they are both a "retaliation against," and a mimicking of, social values.

The early-stage explanation for this perverted style of "symbolic redemption" is epitomized by the experts in this way: The Bundys of the world are "more 'made than born.'" If you get near it, take note of the "'homicidal triangle'" in respect to the kids on your block: "'bed-wetting at an inappropriate age, starting fires, and cruelty to small animals or other children.'" Any two of these three aberrations should set of alarm bells.

I can readily see how the "intersection of attitude, form, and scene" can HELP explain the "signature" repetitions of the adult mass murderer, and perhaps also the recurrent bully-boy aggressions of the sociopath in training. Does this mean, though, that the serial killer is MORE made than born? I throw that query out as another potential avenue for discusion. The role of biological heritability in personality formation has been a central emphasis in the psychological research of the past half century. Lykken et al. at Minnesota, Kagan and associates at Harvard, and Eysenck and Eysenck at the U. of London led but three of many programs that have made claims for genetics. Neurological chemistry and hard-wiring have not been afterthoughts in the summary conclusions of these social scientists.

I would like to hear more from John Douglas on this matter before I'd go strongly for scene-act or scene-agent as the main determinants in these cases.

Your KBJournal public respondent and carnie barker.

Ed

A Rhetorical Journey into Darkness

I thought Tom Wright's two posts were superb. He certainly is correct that many nonverbal animals engage in activities and establish relationships that look to us like expressions of a hierarchical motive. I see no reason not to call those motions and apparent similarities hierarchal.

Differences between human and nonhuman hierarchies are, nevertheless, real and present, I do believe. The one-up, one-down correlation has moral overtones in human societies. (Burke deals with that ethical dimension somewhere, in the RHETORIC I think it is.) Also, language will exacerbate nonverbal hierarchal drives in a way that the "lower" animals do not experience them. Coming under the umbra of the verbal, they can take on a perfectionistic, entelechial intensity that can go way beyond the more practical concerns of the beasts. Moose will lock horns, seals will do battle, for mating privileges, etc. Lions as well as pigeons will follow a "pecking order" based on strength or some other physical superiority. They do not, though, appear to expend energy resources, and fanatically so, for mere symbolic status, the way humans are so offen driven to do. They want food, sex, and power, it would seem, not morally-tinged "social worship."

Maybe I'm wrong on that. Let's check with our local ethologist.

As for Ted Bundy's self-concept as maybe being one of inadequacy, despite his obvious talents, you may be right. Adler could provide some justificaion there. Humans pretty much start with a sense of their own limitations, he opines. It's not possible, of course, to get thoroughly into somebody's head, the "black box" of behaviorist psychology. So who really knows for sure?

Ed

A Rhetorical Journey into Darkness

I agree strongly with Ed's contention, "Differences between human and nonhuman hierarchies are, nevertheless, real and present, I do believe." Many of these differences involve the human use of language, which allows us to develop motives and hierarchies that animals probably cannot imagine. I am not yet sure, however, what to make of the statement that "language will exacerbate nonverbal hierarchal drives in a way that the 'lower' animals do not experience them."

Let's turn back to Burke's mention of Aristotle's distinction "between nonverbal motives (alogoi—appetites that would arise even if there were no such thing as language) and 'verbal' motives (para logou—appetitions depending upon language for their development, as with the 'new needs' that go with the change of human purpose from mere 'living' to 'living well')" (Rhetoric 77). I bring this up to shed light on the difference between humans and other animals. Only humans have para logou motives, so that's an obvious difference. But both humans and other animals have alogoi motives. We all want food, sex, and power.

So here's my question. Is there really a significant difference between the alogoi motives of humans and animals, perhaps one exacerbated by language (even though they would exist if there were no such thing as language)? Ed's post would seem to suggest that, but I'm still considering it.

A Rhetorical Journey into Darkness

Tom raises the question about whether there is any difference between the "alogoi" motives (those that all animals, human and nonhuman, share) in nonverbal animals and those in the symbol-using animal, namely us.

I guess we could say that on one level, the physical, biological level, no such differences exist. If we take a gander at the base of Maslow's famous hierarchy of human needs and motivations, we'll note the same drives that probably all primates and most reptiles and prereptilian beings possess in common, the requirements for food, drink, cover, shelter, reproduction, and elimination. As physiological "itches" that need scratching, we're likely at one with other denizens of the biosphere.

The manner in which we satisfy those needs, though, is NEVER the same for us as it is for them. Our modus operandi is in all cases transformed by the notion of "moral purpose." In human life, those basic needs are linguistically modified and rule governed, in response to the hortatory negative, the negative of command. Humans eat prepared foods with utensils, drink from a glass or cup, wear clothing, reside in an often elaborately arifactualized dwelling, and perform acts of reproduction and elimination in private. All of these acts are highly acculturated and/or politicized via the rules of social etiquette or governmental laws. We don't just "take" food, clothing, housing, or reproductive partners as we wish on a whim, not without potentially serious consequences.

As for the exacerbation of our particular hierarchal motives, in contrast to those of nonverbal animals, we're "rotten with perfection" in a way that they are not. A human being might be top dog money- or position-wise in his or her particular community, but that's often not enough. He or she frequently wants to be top dog regionally, or nationally, or even globally. Or, he or she might "reason" thusly: I have all these distinguishing attributes and I'm Number One, but I want to put even more distance between myself and whoever is just below, by garnering more money and/or power still.

The hierarchal drives of nonverbal animals are practical. They can be sated. Animals of any kind, nonhuman and human, can eat or drink only so much, reproduce with only so many other animals, physically control and range over only so much territory themselves. The hierarchal fantasies of humans are infinite in their possibilties, at least as mentally envisioned. Some persons just gotta have more and more and more, of whatever!

Good questions, Tom

Ed