- Save Our Souls
Series of cartoons, 2001
- After original drawings by Hermann de
Vries, these comics confront violence in the private sphere around
1870 with contemporary language in its most basic form: acronyms.
- Cabinet, Immaterial Incorporated,
New York, # 3, summer 2001 (Revolution)
- HERBERT MARCUSE, ON ACRONYMS
- Note on abridgement. NATO, SEATO, UN,
AFL-CIO, AEC, but also USSR, DDR, etc. Most of these abbreviations
are perfectly reasonable and justified by the length of the unabbreviated
designata. However, one might venture to see in some of them
a "cunning of Reason"-the abbreviation may help to
repress undesired questions. NATO does not suggest what North
Atlantic Treaty Organization says, namely, a treaty among the
nations on the North-Atlantic-in which case one might ask questions
about the membership of Greece and Turkey. USSR abbreviates Socialism
and Soviet; DDR: democratic. UN dispenses with undue emphasis
on "united"; SEATO with those Southeast-Asian countries
which do not belong to it. AFL-CIO entombs the radical political
differences which once separated the two organizations, and AEC
is just one administrative agency among others. The abbreviations
denote that and only that which is institutionalized in such
a way that the transcending connotation is cut off. The meaning
is fixed, doctored, loaded. Once it has become an official vocable,
constantly repeated in general usage, "sanctioned"
by the intellectuals, it has lost all cognitive value and serves
merely for recognition of an unquestionable fact.
- This style is of overwhelming concreteness.
The "thing identified with its function" is more real
than the thing distinguished from its function and the linguistic
expression of this identification (in the functional noun, and
in the many forms of syntactical abridgement) creates a basic
vocabulary and syntax which stand in the way of differentiation,
separation, and distinction. This language, which constantly
imposes images, militates against the development and
expression of concepts. In its immediacy and directness
it impedes conceptual thinking; thus, it impedes thinking.
- Excerpted from One-Dimensional
Man (Boston: Beacon Press, 1964), p. 94
- Quoted by Cabinet Magazine, # 3, Summer