Personological Classification

Piatigorsky, Alexandr M. and Boris A. Uspensky 1975. Personological Classification as a Semiotic Problem. Semiotica 15(2): 99-120.

0.1. Personology is a usual preoccupation of the ordinary person. For example, we say 'This person is lucky' or 'This person is decent', or even 'This person could be decent', and by this we are actually implying some sort of intuitive, unexpressed personology. (Piatigorsky & Uspensky 1975: 99)
In this sense when Winston reads other's faces it is not so much about the politics of physiognomy as it is about the personology of survival in a totalitarian environment. E.g. "this person is a thoughtcriminal", "this person is destined to disappear", etc.
There is no sharp distinction between the practical personology which everyone practices and the personology which is practiced by a linguist, a psychologist, or a semiotician. There exists a long line of gradation, and the purpose of research in that direction can be formulated primarily as a problem of explicit, conscious description of the distribution of people into groups or according to features. (Piatigorsky & Uspensky 1975: 99)
Surely the "Swiftian" scientists of thought police, who are a mix of psychologists and inquisitors, practice a kind of personology for sifting out thoughtcriminals.
One can say, furthermore, that all personological theories, the naive one as well as those pretending to a scientific description, are based on the analysis of a text in a general sense of the word (the text of behavior). Here one has in mind a real, existing text (closed text) as well as a text being potentially generated (open text). In other words, the behavior of a person is considered as a definite sequence of signs (belonging to different levels) and in one way or another expressing his personological characteristics. (Piatigorsky & Uspensky 1975: 99-100)
Curiously, these are the same categories that I see in "body language" discourse: the "naive" variety is that of writers and other artisans who must have something resembling a theory to operate with signs, and the pseudo-scientific schemes of popular books on body language. The two are not necessarily exclusive, but they can be distinguished by the degree of naivete, so to say, or historical origin. When it comes to the textual status of behaviour, I wonder if the opposition between text-qua-sequence and text-qua-sign is a possibility here.
0.2. Speaking of the text of behavior, it is important to note at this time that we have no possibility for any kind of 'natural' division of the behavior of a given individual into 'pieces', i.e., we are not given the segmentation of behavior (and the segmentation of situation as well), and there are no justifiable criteria for such a segmentation. Actually, we call 'behavior' any segment of behavior (no matter how large or small it is) and we call 'situation' any segment of a situation. (Piatigorsky & Uspensky 1975: 100)
This is almost like what I meant - that the whole sequence of behaviours in a given situation can be considered as a singular sign. But I would argue against the dismissal of segmentation. Perhaps there is no "natural" division into "pieces", but there certainly is - through human observation, interpretation and description - a segmentation/transformation of continuous behaviour into discrete linguistic units. Saying "she smiled" in this sense crops the relevant piece of behaviour from the continuous multimodal sequence of actual behaviour and invests this single item with significance. When reading a linguistic description of bodily behaviour in a novel, for example, the reader is confronted with exactly these kinds of segmented pieces, not a total description or the continuous behaviour itself.
Precisely because we do not have here a segmented text, the problem of the personologist is to determine a certain mechanism of behavior which conditions (in one way or another) the behavior of the individual in general. (If the text of behavior were segmented, we could study the behavior of the individual at a certain given moment or in a given situation, and then determine the general type of the behavior of the individual, deducing it from the particular behaviors). (Piatigorsky & Uspensky 1975: 100)
When dealing with a verbal text, though, the relevant conditions and segments are already there, and the analyst must merely have the theoretical tools to work out the details of that mechanism. Be it "the politics of physiognomy" or "micropolitical structure", in any case it is possible to generalize. (Although I don't probably mean the same thing as Piatygorsky with the word "mechanism".)
0.3. Thus, it is possible to single out two problems of the personological theory: the problem of establishing certain types, connected with the discovery and examination of various mechanisms of behavior which were mentioned above, and the problem of finding out, or recognizing personological types by means of the text, i.e., the correlation of a certain text of behavior with a certain independently determined personological type. (Piatigorsky & Uspensky 1975: 100)
In case of 1984, it may be possible to establish these personological types on the basis of the newspeak terms we are familiarized with: thoughtcriminal, facecriminal, sexcriminal, duckspeaker, goodthinker, oldthinker, etc.
Let us say that one person evaluates in some way the actions of another (for example, he says that the other is 'intelligent').
In general, we must, it appears, assume that when one person unifies the behavior of another (typologically), he is using metalanguage established by a third person (as some kind of external force).
In other words, metalanguage is present as the point of view of an ideal 'third' person, who alone fixes the typological, personological criteria, whereas the 'second', i.e., the immediate observer, simply uses them as applicable to the observed ('first') person.
This is why in discussing the question of personological classification and the qualification of objects in relation to the selected classification it is very important to point out the locus, from which point the relation to a particular type is being made. (Piatigorsky & Uspensky 1975: 101)
Even Piatigorsky falls victim to the metaphorization of the concept of metalanguage. Metalanguage is not simply language about something - that is object-language; metalanguage is language about language. Language about persons could very well be called person-language, or, in a more technical bent, we could talk about personological descriptors. In case of 1984, if we consider some newspeak terms as personological descriptors, then the "third person" is replaced by the newspeak dictionary, which is composed by a body of bureaucratic linguists. In any case, the point about locus stands - who uses the descriptors, from whose point of view a behaviour is described, etc. are relevant questions.
0.4.2. Secondly, the point of view of the third person can be constant or variable. In naive phraseology it is possible to determine an 'unscientific' (relatively speaking) approach - i.e., an approach which is found in everyday personological practice - as an approach which uses the variable point of view. (Piatigorsky & Uspensky 1975: 101)
For my purposes, it could be stated that Big Brother (metonymically standing for thought-police or the Party in general) has an (omnisemiotic) constant point of view, while Winston as a "surrogate narrator" has a variable point of view, his own limited semiosic capacity.
The 'scientific' approach is usually understood as an approach that uses the constant point of view (in this the traditional scientific approach is identical to the religious). (Piatigorsky & Uspensky 1975: 101)
E.g. the "Swiftian scientists" or the divination of Big Brother (1984 manifests worship of a leader who is created with divine attributes). The term "omnisemiotic" seems more appropriate here than anywhere else.
0.4.3. Within the structure of these three points of view, if one analyzes them as three types of behavior, one finds that Maximum disorder is evidenced in the behavior of the observed; maximal order in the behavior of the observer, inasmuch as he is limited by the metalanguage (or theory) which is assigned to him; and finally, absolute order (autonomy) is evidenced by the third-person observer, since, in this analysis, his perspective cannot, by its very nature, be altered. (Piatigorsky & Uspensky 1975: 102)
Thus, there is "maximal disorder" in the characters that Winston himself observes; his own behavior has "maximal order" - mostly because his point of view is available to us as readers; and there is "absolute order" in Big Brother - his perspective cannot be altered because in the strict sense he does not exist (he is absolute).
1. As a basis for our initial personological classification we have taken the feature of known behavior as its semioticity.
Speaking of the semioticity of behavior, we may consider, on the one hand, the generation of a certain text of behavior, which appears as a sign in relation to a certain other text, or, on the other hand, the comprehension of certain phenomena of reality (in general, of phenomena of the surrounding world) as signs - specifically, as belonging to a certain conventional sign system or relating to some other reality, which conditions the meaning of the given phenomena. In these cases, accordingly, it is possible to speak of the generative and the analytic models of semiotic behavior. In both instances the semioticity of behavior may be substantially different in different individuals. (Piatigorsky & Uspensky 1975: 102)
E.g. generating signs and interpreting signs. The signs I'm working here are verbal signs, e.g. certain phenomena of reality (bodily behaviour) as they belong to the conventional sign system of language (or literary tradition, or universe of discourse). I must consider whether the Santaella-Braga-inspired threefold distinction between description, narration and thesis are generative in the First and Second, and analytic in the Third.
These two aspects may be interrelated inasmuch as the perception and evaluation by the individual of his own behavior (connected, naturally, to a greater or lesser degree, to the analysis and evaluation of the external world) may determine and shape his behavior. Let us note, however, that the connection between self-evaluation and behavior can be most varied among different individuals. (Piatigorsky & Uspensky 1975: 102)
Oh snap. Autocommunication. Self-judgement. Self-censure. All that jazz.
2. Concerning research dealing with the outcome of semiotic behavior, it is possible to establish the most general personological classification, depending upon whether or not the individual shows a tendency in his behavior towards the singling out of actions, that become signs for other acts of behavior which are included in the given situation or connected with the given inner state. (Piatigorsky & Uspensky 1975: 103)
We of course are not forced to deal with "the most general personological classification" and may very well choose the newspeak terms as our "metalanguage", or even more looser terms that Orwell uses in describing various characters. Since there is more rigor in the newspeak terms, I would go with these. E.g. Winston is a thoughtcriminal, Mrs Parsons is a facecriminal, Julia is a sexcriminal, O'Brien is goodthinkful, the shopkeeper is oldthinkful, and the man in the cafeteria is a duckspeaker.
Type 1: 'semiotic
This type consists of two subtypes: I A and I B.
Subtype I A: 'semioticizing'. People who show the above-mentioned tendency for singling out sign elements in behavior shall be put into that subtype of people who semioticize behavior. This subtype of behavior can, furthermore, be represented as consisting of two subtypes: I Aa and I Ab.
I Aa is 'interiorized'. This subtype is characterized by a tendency for definite complication of behavior, as is apparent in the fact that the non-sign elements become sign elements and thereby stimulate and enrichh the sphere of self-communication and self-signalization.
Psychologically, the 'interiorized' type of behavior is characterized, moreover, by the fact that it includes people who have a definite tendency to create 'integral' situations, i.e., to reproduce (at times deliberately, artificially) situations which seem to be easier to designate, which are unified more naturally, which fit under the selected sign. Apparently, the quality of such signs of behavior is close to what in contemporary psychology is called 'ego identity'.
I Ab is 'ekteriorized'. This subtype includes people whose tendency toward semiotization results in their striving towards acts of behavior which are signs of other acts or situations, these acts being conventional in relation to such signs, and usually belong to collective communication. In the 'exteriorized' type of behavior the identification of 'I' is usually worked out through the identification of that 'I' by other people (i.e., it is important here that others notice it). In other words, the internal self-assertion in this subtype is achieved through the assertion of the give npersonality of others. (Piatigorsky & Uspensky 1975: 103)
Oh lord. Winston is definitely Type 1 and moreover 1A, as he interiorizes how to behave (he strives to understand correct behaviour), while Julia is 1B, as she has no problem with appearing goodthinkful (it's a game for her). By and large, it could be stated that for Winston it is work, for Julia it is a game.
Subtype I B: 'desemioticizing'. Representatives of this subtype definitely tend towards the curtailing of cats of behavior which can be determined by other acts. Their behavior is de-structuralized in a certain sense. Such a person strives 'to live as is', and, despite the fact that it is obvious that his attitude towards life and himself may in no way differ from the attitude of the semioticizing subtype, his behavior is regulated by the need of simplification in the direction of the elimination of determinability.
It is possible that, for such a person, it is hard to live in a sign world, or, living in a sign world, it is hard for him to develop in his chosen direction. It is important to note that in any given situation the behavior of such a person is already regulated by the elementary structure 'sign - non-sign', and the behavior of a person with a tendency toward desemiotization of reality can be, from the point of view of the observer, quite semioticized. (Piatigorsky & Uspensky 1975: 103-104)
This sounds like Mr Parsons, although I cannot be sure yet.
Type II: 'asemiotic
Representatives of this type are found very seldom; most probably, we are dealing with some kind of inherent ability resulting from the psychophysiological state of personality, and not from a stereotype of behavior. In other words, it seems that it is possible to become either semioticizing or desemioticizing, i.e., in some way to regulate one's behavior in this respect. However, asemioticity is an inherent quality, probably precluding the appearance and development of tendencies to semioticize or desemioticize (this, of course, is no more than a hypothesis). By the same token, Type II is excluded from the preceding scheme of classification inasmuch as in its formulation we began with the presence of the semiotic process in behavior (in the sense that it may be co-ordinated with the 'plus' or 'minus' sign, while in this case it is 'zero').
In the most general aspect, the asemiotic quality is characterized by a person who has a tendency to look at events, things, and situations neither as signs nor as non-signs, but as things in themselves. It is possible that such a psychological phenomenon is complemented by the complication of behavior on other levels. The life of such a person may seem simple to the 'semiotic' observer..., however, it is possible that for that person himself it possesses a number of other complexities. (Piatigorsky & Uspensky 1975: 104)
This sounds like a characterization of proles. The difference between Parsons and the Proles is that Parsons does not "overthink" his behaviour and strives to act in accordance with what is expected of him, but his behaviour is still semiotized - which inevitably leads him to room 101. The Proles, on the other hand, have no need to semiotize their behaviour because they are not regulated like Party members are, although they have their own means of semiotization, the old ways, which Winston is only slightly aware of. // In comparison with Lotman's typology of cultural codes, it would appear than: 1) Big Brother is sem+syn-, as "He" determines the so-called "metalanguage"; 2) Mr Parsons is sem-syn+, as he behaves "correctly" but has no idea what any of it means; 3) the Proles are sem-syn- as they care for neither pole; and 4) Winston is properly interested in both how to avoid being caught (behaving "correctly") and what it all means.
3. Now we shall discuss certain problems connected with the examination of analytical behavior, i.e., the examinationof how the perception of the world gets semioticized. Here it is possible to speak of both the evaluation by the individual of any real situation, and of his construction of certain ideal situations. It is natural to assume that the ideas which a person has about such ideal situations are determined, to a great extent, by his personological traits, and therefore, determine his evaluation of real situations. (Piatigorsky & Uspensky 1975: 104)
The problem being that Winston's initial interpretations of O'Brien and Julia are both incorrect. In this light O'Brien is actually correct that he is "insane".
4. We have been discussing the personological differences in the realms of generation and of analytical behavior. It is apparent, however, that the characteristics of any variation of behavior depends upon the individual. It is also apparent that it is the self-perception, i.e., the perception of the 'I' that represents that area where the realms of analytic and generative behavior cross and mutually influence each other. Of course, the generated behavior is in some way perceived by the subject himself, while the consideration of how one's personal behavior is perceived definitely influences that behavior and in some measure conditions it. As a result, a certain balance is established, a certain compromise between behavior and the perception of that behavior by the individual (when some aspects of behavior are not perceived by the individual himself, being perceived only from the point of view of an external observer), while the nature of this compromise (balance) may be conditioned personologically. (Piatigorsky & Uspensky 1975: 108-109)
Self-communication (autocommunication). Details.
In personology, one is directly interested in a whole series of cases connected with the examination of 'masks'. It is particularly important to examine the following cases for personological characterization:
  1. Realization or non-realization by the individual of his 'mask' on the whole, or of its particular features.
  2. Function of the 'mask' in the communication of the individual, in other words, who is the 'mask' intended for, in what situation of contact does it serve as intermediary?
Thus, for example, the 'mask' can be used during the individual's contact with socium or with other people in general, during his contact with divine hypostasis, or during contact with himself (i.e., during self-communication). (Piatigorsky & Uspensky 1975: 109)
Huh. An aspect of autocommunication I have not yet considered yet. E.g. how one presents oneself to that future self.


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