I am going to open this paper with the true
story of a name and I want you to pay very careful attention.
It is, literally, a matter of life and death.
The name "Ken Hawkins" means a lot to me.
For the first 24 years of my life, the referent of "Ken
Hawkins" was my father. In the Spring of my 15th year, Ken
Hawkins got what turned out to be a death sentence when he was
diagnosed with multiple myeloma. He battled against this killer
cancer for almost nine years, finally succumbing to it on a rainy
monday evening in February 1978.
For the next six years, the name "Ken Hawkins"
referred, for me at least, only to the painful memory of a distant
father I never quite got to know. We had begun developing the
intimate bond I always craved during the last few months of his
life, when the ravages of cancer confined him to a wheelchair.
But just as I was beginning to make sense of the man and my
relationship with him, death intervened to make the distance between
us greater than ever before.
My father was gone forever, and there was nothing
I would ever be able to do about that. But his name lives on;
it was revived just an hour or so after midnight on sunday morning,
5 February 1984, when my Japanese wife gave birth to our first
child--a son. We had agreed months earlier that the name "Ken
Hawkins" would be perfect if the child turned out to be a
boy. Not only does the name honor my fallen father, it also celebrates
our son's dual cultural and ethnic heritage in that the name "Ken"
has as much currency in contemporary Japanese culture as it does
in contemporary American culture.
And so, for the past 14 years of my life, I have
had the opportunity to build with my son, Ken Hawkins, the kind
of relationship that I wish I had enjoyed with my father, Ken
My purpose in telling you this particular story
is not to bore you with insignificant details of my personal life.
It is, rather, to preview a central point of this paper: that
experiences of life and death can lend significant power to almost
any text. This paper emerges from a pedagogically oriented research
project the central goal of which is to reveal how language gains
its oppressive power in texts and contexts reported by Haig Bosmajian
in The Language of Oppression. The research program is
conceptualized within the framework of Cognitive Linguistics,
which assumes that meaning ultimately derives from embodied human
experience. Among embodied human experiences, nothing is more
powerful than life and death. The texts examined in this paper
reveal that oppressors attempt to harness the power of life and
death experiences through carefully crafted iconographic references
to themselves and their enemies. By appealing strategically to
particular iconographic frames of reference, which are complex
cognitive structures comprising a coherent set of highly valued
images, oppressors craft texts which create a string of semantic
associations leading from their enemies to the most feared of
human experiences: death. And by setting themselves up as the
force opposing such an enemy, oppressors construct an iconographic
image of themselves as the HERO
-- the agent/protector of life.
1. The Language of Oppression
. . . revisited
In The Language of Oppression, Haig
Bosmajian demonstrates clearly and powerfully that language is
a powerful weapon in the arsenal of an oppressor. In the book's
introduction, Bosmajian defines his purpose as follows:
This then is our task -- to identify the decadence
in our language, the inhumane uses of language, the "silly
words and expressions" which have been used to justify the
unjustifiable, to make palatable the unpalatable, to make reasonable
the unreasonable, to make decent the indecent. Hitler's "Final
Solution" appeared reasonable once the Jews were successfully
labeled by the Nazis as sub-humans, as "parasites,"
"vermin," and "bacilli." The segregation
and suppression of blacks in the United States was justified once
they were considered "chattels" and "inferiors."
The subjugation of the "American Indians" was defensible
since they were defined as "barbarians" and "savages."
As Peter Farb has said, "cannibalism, torture, scalping,
mutilation, adultery, incest, sodomy, rape, filth, drunkenness
-- such a catalogue of accusations against a people is an indication
not so much of their depravity as that their land is up for grabs."
As long as adult women are "chicks," "girls,"
"dolls," "babes," and "ladies,"
their status in society will remain "inferior": they
will go on being treated as subjects in the subject-master relationship
as long as the language of the law places them into the same class
as children, minors, and the insane.
It is my hope that an examination of the language
of oppression will result in a conscious effort by the reader
to help cure this decadence in our language, especially that language
which leads to dehumanization of the human being. One way for
us to curtail the use of the language of oppression is for those
who find themselves being defined into subjugation to rebel against
such linguistic suppression. It isn't strange that those persons
who insist on defining themselves, who insist on this elemental
privilege of naming, self-definition, and self-identity encounter
vigorous resistance. Predictably, the resistance usually comes
from the oppressor or would-be oppressor and is a result of the
fact that he or she does not want to relinquish the power which
comes from the ability to define others.
Bosmajian's approach to this task is reflected
in the structure of his book, which has five central chapters
on the language of Anti-Semitism, White Racism, Indian Derision,
Sexism, and War. In each of these chapters, Bosmajian makes his
point by presenting a collection of texts in which a particular
group uses language strategically to define some other group in
ways that establish and maintain an imbalance of power between
those two groups. In effect, Bosmajian has catalogued the language
of oppression according to the populations involved in the oppressive
Bosmajian's work effectively raises awareness
of the language of oppression, but awareness is only a necessary
preliminary step in the linguist's effort to combat oppression.
The next step is to examine the linguistic data closely enough
to reveal how language gains oppressive power. Toward that end,
we will examine in this paper key passages from the texts in (1)
- (4), all drawn from Bosmajian's corpus.
(1) Bear in mind the devastation which Jewish bastardization visits on our nation each day, and consider that this blood poisoning can be removed from our national body only after centuries, if at all; consider further how racial disintegration drags down and often destroys the last Aryan values of our German people, so that our strength as a culture-bearing nation is visibly more and more involved in a regression and we run the risk, in our big cities at least, of reaching the point where southern Italy is today. This contamination of our people is carried on systematically by the Jew today. Systematically these black parasites of the nation defile our inexperienced young blonde girls and thereby destroy something which can no longer be replaced in this world.
from Mein Kampf
(quoted in Bosmajian, pp. 19-20.)
(2) This pestilence will ask no man's permission to put an end to the democracies through the Marxist leadership, [and] it will do so without any man's leave, unless it meets with opposition. And this opposition must be something else than merely Platonic rejection of the doctrine, or any more or less solemn proclamation of hostility: there must be an immunization of the people against this poison while the international carrier of the bacillus must be fought.
from Hitler's Speeches
(quoted in Bosmajian, p. 23)
(3) It shall hereafter be unlawful for any
white person in this State to marry any save a white person, or
a person with no other admixture of blood than white and American
Indian. For the purpose of this chapter, the term 'white person'
shall apply only to such person as has no trace whatever of any
blood other than Caucasian; but persons who have one-sixteenth
or less of the blood of the American Indian and have no other
non-Caucasic blood shall be deemed to be white persons.
State of Virginia: Act to preserve racial integrity
(quoted in Bosmajian, pp. 41-42)
(4) Almighty God created the races white,
black, yellow, malay, and red, and he placed them on separate
continents. And but for the interference with this arrangement
there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he
separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races
Circuit Court of Caroline County, Virginia, January 1959
(quoted in Bosmajian, p. 43)
2. The conceptual foundations of oppression
or cruel exercise of authority or power, especially by the imposition
of burdens; especially: the unlawful, excessive, or corrupt exercise
of power other than by extortion by any public officer so as to
harm anyone in his rights, person or property while purporting
to act under color of governmental authority
Webster's Third New International
Dictionary, p. 1584
Oppression is a sociopolitical dynamic which
involves strategic creation and manipulation of resources to establish
and maintain an artificial imbalance of power within a particular
social formation. Oppressors reserve for themselves rights and
privileges that they summarily deny to others. Oppressors can
test the limits of their own developmental potential, while they
systematically deny such opportunities to others. In extreme
cases, oppressors reserve for themselves the right to live and,
consequently, take actions to end the lives of others.
Oppression being a sociopolitical problem,
it is reasonable to question what insights might be expected from
a linguist like myself, thoroughly interpellated by the cognitivist
perspective on language. Bosmajian provides a significant clue
when he notes that oppressors use language strategically "to
justify the unjustifiable, to make palatable the unpalatable,
to make reasonable the unreasonable, to make decent the indecent."
All of these -- justify, make palatable, make reasonable and
make decent -- involve conceptual operations. That being the
case, oppression isn't simply a matter of sociopolitical organization;
it is also a matter of the mind.
Look at it this way: oppression doesn't just
happen. Oppression is, as the dictionary definition above makes
quite clear, imposed by persons in positions of authority or power.
From this, we must recognize that this sociopolitical phenomenon
has its roots in the mind of the oppressor. Before exercising
the power of governmental authority to impose an oppressive regime,
the oppressor must formulate a plan, be it explicit or implicit,
for the social order that s/he intends to impose. This is precisely
what Adolf Hitler did in writing Mein Kampf while confined
to a German prison in the early days of the Weimar Republic.
Making sense of the sociopolitical phenomenon
of oppression is a task for the historian and the political scientist.
Attempting to make sense of the frame of mind that could conceptualize,
rationalize, and justify an oppressive regime is within the domain
of inquiry of cognitive science. The cognitive scientist sees
oppression as a conceptualized social order imposed upon a particular
sociopolitical formation. That social order emerges from a belief
system in the mind of the oppressor. This belief system not only
gives rise to oppressive decisions and actions, it makes those
decisions and actions seem entirely logical and justified to the
oppressor. I suggest that the belief system of an oppressor comprises
and integrates five rather basic conceptual structures: focal
difference, deixis, preference, privilege, and dismissal.
2.1 Focal difference
We experience a world full of diversity. I
gaze into my wife's garden and I experience a beautiful array
of flowers, each distinct from the others in color and size and
shape. I walk into my classroom on the first day of a new semester
and I see a collection of bright young faces, each distinct from
the others. I participate in a professional seminar that causes
me to reflect on my life in academia and I am fascinated by the
distinct disciplinary approaches to the fundamental tasks of posing
questions and seeking answers to those questions.
Differences exist in the world we experience;
that much is an incontrovertible fact of life. It is not always
the task of the cognitive scientist to make sense of the differences
we experience. The cognitive scientist may just marvel at the
beautiful array of natural life forms experienced in a garden
or in a classroom. The cognitive scientist should be called
upon, however, when the differences we experience are themselves
a product of human reasoning. This is probably the case with
the phenomena referred to as academic disciplines; the cognitive
scientist might be able to tell us something significant about
the nature of the difference in such cases and, ultimately, about
the nature of that thing we call an academic discipline.
Difference is a matter of the world we live
in, but it is not just that. Difference is also a matter of the
mind, and whenever something is a matter of the mind, the cognitive
scientist can be expected to offer useful insights. When I gaze
into my wife's garden and see just a bunch of flowers, I have
performed a minor cognitive miracle. I have ignored the incredibly
beautiful diversity to be found there and I have chosen, instead,
to focus my attention on a unity that I perceive as banal--just
a bunch of flowers. The cognitive scientist can make sense
of this conceptual miracle quite explicitly by telling me about
the cognitive phenomenon of categorization. Through categorization,
the human being has the conceptual ability to ignore certain differences
between experienced entities so as to treat those entities as
if they were alike. These distinct entities belong to the same
conceptual category. But categorization also has the effect of
calling special attention to other experienced differences. Entities
recognized as different belong to contrasting categories. Thus,
I may ignore differences between me and others by categorizing
and referring to all of us as human beings. On the other hand,
I may highlight a perceived difference, for example by categorizing
and referring to one set of human beings as men and another set
Categorization is a matter of the mind that
can play funny tricks with differences that exist in the real
world. In some cases, categorization can blind us to observable
differences in the world we experience. In other cases, categorization
can highlight differences that might otherwise have escaped our
Categorization has a significant impact on
the belief system of the oppressor. Categorization allows the
oppressor to become fixated on a particular difference between
peoples. This focal difference, which exists as such only as
a result of the fixation in the mind of the oppressor, is the
basic conceptual resource needed by an oppressor to see and construct
the world as a matter of US versus THEM.
Linguists recognize the contrast between US and THEM as a basic manifestation of deixis. Deixis is a conventionalized cognitive process through which meaning is derived by relating the referential features of a text to the contextual variables influencing a particular experiencer's interpretation of that text. Deixis is probably an outgrowth of the primitive cognitive organizing principle Piagetians refer to as egocentrism. In effect, deixis involves conventionalizing egocentric structuring within a particular conceptual system.
In the case of US versus THEM, we are dealing
with a conceptual system for categorizing groups of people. US
is a conceptual category defined relative to me. This category
includes me and other people recognized as being like me in some
significant way. THEM is a contrasting category which includes
all other people. These people are, essentially by definition,
not like me. The focal point in the difference between these
two categories is, quite clearly, ME. The difference that becomes
focal in this case is the presence or absence of the characteristic(s)
that would make you be like me. If you exhibit the same focal
characteristics that I do, then you are one of US. If not, then
you are one of THEM.
Oppression involves a cognitive process of
blowing a focal difference radically out of proportion. The stage
is set for this process whenever any difference becomes conceptually
focal. In the case of oppression, this is accomplished through
the imposition of an US versus THEM categorization system. The
process of blowing a focal difference out of proportion involves
integrating such a categorization system with a preference system.
In the case of oppression, the preference system is very basic:
when confronted with diversity, prefer self over other, prefer
same over different. Through this simple preference system, the
US category gains preference over the THEM category.
The cognitive process of blowing a focal difference
out of proportion is polar in nature. Privilege is the positive
polarity in this process. Conceptually, privilege involves strategically
adding ameliorative meaning to an experience by establishing a
conceptual link between that focal experience and one or more
other experiences regarded as pleasurable. Pragmatically, privilege
involves granting a set of benefits, advantages and/or favors
to a preferred category. Privilege can range in severity from
distribution of small perks such as candy or cheap trinkets to
more substantive favors such as giving a person your time, attention
and affection. In cases of oppression, privilege includes freedom
to develop one's potential and, possibly, the basic right to life.
Dismissal is the negative polarity in the process
of blowing a focal difference out of proportion. Dismissal involves
removing some entity from consideration. Conceptually, this entails
reducing some experience to nothing. In the classroom, dismissal
can (and too often does) take the form of consistent refusal on
the part of the instructor to allow a particular student or set
of students to participate in the discourses of the classroom.
In the case of Nazi oppression of the Jews during the Holocaust,
dismissal took the more ominous form of genocide. Hitler's Final
Solution involved systematically dismissing 6 million Jews from
this life on Earth. Indeed, in the next section of this paper,
we will see that texts constructed by oppressors focus strategically
on conceptual dismissal of the basic humanity of those the oppressors
view as their enemies. This, in turn, allows the oppressor to
construct an effective case for pragmatic dismissal of the oppressed
from the social order.
3. Iconographic reference
The present research program adopts a process
perspective on meaning. This perspective takes seriously the observational
fact that "meaning" is derived from the verb "to
mean" and the progressive morpheme "-ing." From
this perspective, meaning is seen as a process of constructing
understandings -- of people, of events, of texts. In effect, meaning
is a matter of telling stories to make sense of human experience.
This perspective leads directly to the conclusion
that particular meanings are not immutable structures which become
indelibly etched into the minds of those who have accepted a particular
story of human experience. Meanings are, rather, time-bound events
which reflect particular episodes of interaction between three
crucial processes involved in the human activity of making sense:
experience, selection, and grounding. The process of experience
provides the basic substantive resources from which any meaningful
text is derived. As no text can ever include all relevant information
pertaining to any experience, any text must be selective in the
information it presents. This process of selection appeals to
sets of conceptual tools such as those discussed in Langacker
1987. All texts are constructed in a particular pragmatic context,
which in itself is rich with resources which can contribute to
the meaning of a text constructed in that pragmatic context. Grounding
is the process through which the pragmatic context is meaningfully
related to images selectively constructed from experience. Selection
and grounding work together in the construction of meaningful
images from experience. The particular conceptual tools accessed
and the particular information selected for presentation as a
textual image depend directly on the nature of the information
needed to construct the image that a speaker or writer intends
to convey to a particular audience in a particular context.
This process perspective on meaning in general
yields a process perspective on reference. From this perspective,
"reference" is taken quite literally to mean the process
of directing attention or turning to some fundamental resource
for information. The resource in this case is embodied human
experience of particular things or people. When reference is
iconographic in nature, the selection process brings into the
picture an iconographic frame of reference to mediate the reference
process and ultimately impose a recognizable, conventionalized
structure to the particular act of reference.
An iconographic frame of reference (or "iconography"
for short) is a conventionalized cognitive structure comprising
a coherent set of highly valued images. For the purposes of the
present analysis, we will need to consider three distinct iconographies.
The conceptual factor uniting these three iconographies is the
role of life and death experiences in providing coherence to the
set of images and in associating a distinct value to each individual
image. By appealing to such an iconography in a given act of
reference, the storyteller (i.e., the speaker or writer who initiates
the act of reference) conceptually turns that act of reference
into a matter of life and death.
Before turning our attention back to the data from Bosmajian in (1) - (4), let us consider the language of oppression in a document that escaped Bosmajian's attention. On the third of November in 1755, Spencer Phips, Esq., acting in the official capacity of "Lieutenant-Governor and Commander in Chief, in and over His Majesty's Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New-England," issued a proclamation requiring "his Majesty's subjects of this Province to embrace all Opportunities of pursuing, captivating, killing and destroying all and every of the [Penobscot] Indians." This powerful document is presented in its entirety below:
Whereas the Tribe of Penobscot Indians have
repeatedly in a perfidious Manner acted contrary to their solemn
Submission unto His Majesty long since made and frequently renewed;
I have therefore, at the Desire of the House of Representatives,
with the Advice of His Majesty's Council, thought fit to issue
this Proclamation, and to declare the Penobscot Tribe of Indians
to be Enemies, Rebels and Traitors to His Majesty King
George the Second: And I do hereby require His Majesty's Subjects
of this Province to embrace all opportunities of pursuing, captivating,
killing and destroying all and every of the aforesaid Indians
(The document goes on to list the bounties to be paid for prisoners and scalps. It is dated the third day of November 1755.)
3.1 The WARRIOR
In this document, the 'honorable' Mr. Phips,
Esq. appealed to an iconographic frame of reference to characterize
the Penobscot Indians as "enemies, rebels and traitors."
This iconography is a hierarchically structured conceptual system
which comprises a very familiar set of images--the HERO,
and the VILLAIN.
Mr. Phips' reference to the Penobscot Indians in this text is
mediated by the VILLAIN
image in this cognitive structure, which I refer to as the WARRIOR
The coherence of this iconography and the distinct
values of the images within it are a function of the value that
is placed on human life. But, crucially, it is not all human
life that provides the root values of this particular iconography.
The lives of the HERO and
the VICTIM are
valued, but that of the VILLAIN
is not. The reason for this is that, in this iconography, a life
is valued only if it is lived within a particular social order--that
of the HERO (and
is conceptualized as the protector of life within that social
order. The VILLAIN
is conceptualized as a significant threat to life within that
social order. The VILLAIN,
therefore, is commonly seen as an agent of death and as an outsider
to the particular social order. The VICTIM
is evidence within the social order of the existence, indeed omnipresence,
of this outsider, agent of death and destruction that may at any
moment threaten the sanctity of life within the social order.
In Mr. Phips' appeal to the WARRIOR
iconography, the life valued (or LIFE as WE know it) is only that
which is lived in "solemn submission unto His Majesty ...
King George the Second." Mr. Phips creates a focal difference
between "his Majesty's subjects of this Province" and
the Penobscot Indians by declaring that the Penobscots "have
repeatedly in a perfidious Manner acted contrary to their solemn
Submission unto His Majesty." Mr. Phips then dismisses the
Penobscots from this social order by defining them as "enemies,
rebels and traitors," all of which are simply distinct lexical
manifestations of the VILLAIN.
Having accomplished this conceptual dismissal, Mr. Phips can
then state a public policy dismissing the Penobscots pragmatically.
This is the step in which Mr. Phips requires subjects loyal to
the King "to embrace all opportunities of pursuing, captivating,
killing and destroying all and every of the aforesaid Indians."
Such treatment would never be considered for one of US, but it
is seen as entirely appropriate when dealing with any and all
3.2 The Light/Color
Life-giving energy from the sun provides the
coherence factor for another iconography that structures numerous
texts in the language of oppression. The conventionalized structure
of this iconography begins with the understanding that the sun
emits light. Absence of the sun's light leaves US in darkness.
The unfiltered light of the sun has been experienced and conceptualized
as WHITE, and the experience of darkness has been conceptualized
as the color BLACK. This dichotomy becomes seen as a matter of
life and death when the sun's light is recognized as supporting
LIFE as WE know it here on earth. By extrapolation, this leads
to the conventional belief that darkness does not support LIFE
as WE know it. This iconographic frame of reference, then, codifies
in our conceptual system a string of associations between WHITE
and life on the one hand, and between BLACK and death on the other.
In (1), Hitler appeals to this iconography
in referring to the Jews as "these black parasites of the
nation." There is no direct experience of darkness in the
physical relationship between Hitler and the Jews to motivate
a literal appeal to BLACK in this text. The motivation lies in
the mind of oppressor, who wishes to establish textually for his
audience a conceptual link between the Jews and the possibility
of death for the Nazis.
In (3) and (4) the state of Virginia appeals
to the same iconography in drawing conclusions about marital (and
sexual) relations between peoples the state chooses to view as
racially different. In (3), the state's legislature appeals to
this iconography in attempting to define a particular group of
people as WHITE.
In (4), the Circuit Court of Caroline County, Virginia seizes
on this color categorization to distinguish people in the WHITE
category from those in other categories,
all but one of which (malay) are characterized on the basis of
color. The court goes on to assert that this focal difference
of color/race has its source in "Almighty God."
In this case, the distinction between WHITE
people and BLACK people
does have an experiential motivation. That is, there is an observable
difference between (most) people recognized as WHITE
and (most of) those recognized as BLACK.
But careful, critical reflection on the observable pigmentation
differences between these groups of people reveals clearly that
this difference is blown out of proportion. Those people seen
are not, in fact, the same color as a sheet of paper seen as WHITE.
Similarly, those people seen as BLACK
are not, in fact, the same color as a sheet of paper seen as BLACK.
Crucially, the two groups are seen as WHITE
when conceptualized relative to each other through the lens of
the Light/Color iconography. This iconographic conceptualization
takes a perceived focal difference and blows it out of proportion
by turning it into polar opposition. This polar opposition between
people and BLACK
people is a matter of the mind imposed on our social order by
generations of oppressors.
3.3 The Human Body
The human body is the locus of LIFE as WE know
it. In other words, our experience of LIFE is mediated through
the human body. That is, the human body is the vessel through
which WE experience and attempt to make sense of LIFE. Any threat
to the well-being of the human body, therefore, is a threat to
LIFE as WE know it. These are the fundamental characteristics
of Human Body iconography.
Hitler appealed repeatedly to the Human Body
iconography in crafting his particular idiolect of the language
of oppression. Indeed, there are multiple manifestations of the
Human Body iconography in (1). Hitler begins by appealing to
the conventionalized metaphor A
NATION IS A BODY in conceptualizing
and characterizing Nazi Germany as "our national body."
Working strategically within this metaphor and integrating it
with the Human Body iconography, Hitler metaphorically characterizes
the Jews as "blood poisoning." In one masterful
textual step, Hitler has constructed a focal difference between
the Jews and the rest of Nazi Germany at the same time that he
has provided a conceptual motivation for their dismissal. Blood
poisoning threatens LIFE as WE know it by attacking the fluid
which carries nourishment and oxygen to all parts of the body.
Later in the same text, Hitler accomplishes essentially the same
conceptual miracle by characterizing the Jews as the agent of
"the contamination of our people." In (4), Hitler appeals
to the same conceptual resources in referring to Communism as
"pestilence" and a "poison" and in arguing
that "there must be an immunization of the people against
In the examples that we have just examined,
Hitler appealed to the Human Body iconography to conceptualize
the Jews as a pathogen which causes disease in the human body.
In the very same texts, Hitler also succeeds in conceptualizing
his enemies as an opponent wielding weapons to cause injury to
the body. This is the case when Hitler repeatedly appeals to
the verb "destroy" in (1). It also appears to be what
Hitler has in mind when he notes that "the international
carrier of the bacillus must be fought." In this final referential
structure, Hitler has teamed the pathogen image ("bacillus")
with the opponent image ("carrier").
4. Conclusion: Ideology and Iconography
In The Language of Oppression, Haig
Bosmajian has shown that language is a powerful tool in the arsenal
of the oppressor. In this paper, I have shown that the conceptual
resources the oppressor calls upon in crafting an oppressive text
include iconographic frames of reference. I have characterized
and examined the textual manifestations of three such iconographies:
the WARRIOR iconography,
the Light/Color iconography, and the Human Body iconography.
Each of these conventionalized cognitive structures is a conceptual
matter of life and death, in that life and death experiences lend
coherence to the iconography and differentiate the values of particular
Before closing, it is important in this context
to call attention to the close relationship that exists between
ideology and iconographic frames of reference. Following Hodge
and Kress 1993, I view ideology "as a systematic body of
ideas, organized from a particular point of view. Ideology is
thus a subsuming category which includes sciences and metaphysics,
as well as political ideologies of various kinds, without implying
anything about their status and reliability as guides to reality."
The iconographic frames of reference that we have been examining
in this paper are important vehicles through which ideology becomes
codified in the conceptual system of the individual. This is
an important point that I articulated reasonably clearly in Hawkins
There is a close relationship between ideology and iconography. Ideology is ubiquitous in our lives, but its common-sensical nature makes it something that we are generally not equipped to articulate effectively. That is, we live by it, but we generally don't think about it and, therefore, few of us have any ability to describe it. However, we do periodically find ourselves engaged in discourse in which our ideology is challenged. This is where the relationship between ideology and iconography becomes apparent. Our ideology enters our conscious awareness most directly in the form of our iconography; our icons are concrete symbols of our abstract ideological values. Since few of us are equipped linguistically to debate ideologies, we fall back on our icons. In a discursive battle of ideologies, we invoke our icons who stand metonymically for the ideology we embrace and defend.
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