Schematics of Action

Now we that we have the basic terms, we can examine some of the moves that players make in the course of the game. Below, are listed schematic descriptions of some of the more common forms, which allow us to see the underlying patterns in actions and interactions involving image.

All are based on schematic descriptions that can be used to "map" actions, in general, and not just actions involving image. An example of such descriptions is the following:

A acts toward a (himself)

A acts toward b

A acts toward a and b (A acts the same toward both.)

A acts toward b and c

A acts toward a, b, and c

A and b act toward a (A and b act the same toward a.)

A and b act toward c

A and b act toward a, b, and c.

A and b act toward a.

A and b act toward a, b, and c.

Then we add a second action:

A acts toward a and, in so doing, carries out another action toward a.

A acts toward a and, in so doing, acts toward b.

A acts toward b and, in so doing, carries out another action toward b.

A acts toward b and, in so doing, acts toward a.

A acts toward a and b and, in so doing, carries out another action toward a.

And so on through the various possibilities.

These descriptions have been put, here, in their simplest form. In instances in which descriptions refer to more than one action, they need not be the same action. For example: A acts toward b to act toward b might refer to: A peels the mango in order to make it edible. Or A hits b in order to hurt b. These, than, are general templates that can be used to describe action. And what appears to be one action may require a number of such formulas to be described.

These descriptions start to look more useful when we see that they can be used to map the four kinds of actions referred to earlier, involving:

Defending or enhancing (crediting) or attacking (discrediting) image

Submitting, exerting power or enacting an equal relation

helping or harming

cooperating and opposing.

We thus get such common descriptions as the following:

A enhances A: Virtually all players in the game are trying to enhance their own image. There are rules that limit how far self-crediting can go; how it must be done; and in what circumstances. Those who fail to follow the rules open themselves to discrediting attacks for bragging, acting arrogant, and so on. An obvious example of blatant self-crediting that is widely accepted is advertising, in which companies tout themselves directly.

A enhances B: Examples would be editorials that heap praise on politicians and feature stories that tell about people's lives and experiences from their point of view. One might call this a form of gift-giving.

A enhances B and, in so doing, enhances A. Recipient B's glory is intended to reflect back on the bestower. "Isn’t our child (or reporter or house) wonderful…" "Voters made a wise decision when they chose me."

A enhances B and, in so doing, enhances C. Players enhance the image of one recipient so they can enhance another. One might refer to this as indirect crediting. "Your child is a genius."

A enhances B; B enhances A. Each side enhances the image of the other. One might refer to this as exchange or a mutual gift giving or a mutual admiration society. For example, if A and B each say the other did a good job, then each is giving gifts. There’s no trade since no one really loses anything, unless one considers a compliment to someone else a reduction in the complement-givers self-esteem for making someone else, rather than him or herself, look good.

A enhances B and C. One might refer to this as multiple gift-giving.

A and B enhance C. Coalition gift-giving.

A enhances (credits) B and, in so doing, discredits A. This is sacrifice. It may be a kind of masochism or defense.

A enhances (credits) B while discrediting A; B enhances A while discrediting B. Each side gives up some image to the other. If A and B each say the other saved them from making a serious mistake, then each is giving up a little image to the other, in a mutual exchange.

Here are some more:

A discredits A. – For example, A takes the blame. May be masochism or sacrifice or defense ( A similar example, above, involves A and B.)

A discredits B: This is the basic form of image attack or theft.

A discredits B and, in so doing, discredits C. Indirect attack or image theft.

A discredits B and, in so doing, discredits A. Recipient B's discredit is intended to reflect back on the bestower. "(My employee) John’s mistake will cost the company one million dollars."

A discredits B; B discredits A. Each side attacks the image of the other. One might also refer to this as dueling.

A discredits B and C, but neither act of discrediting depends on the other. One might refer to this as a form of multiple attack.

A and B discredit C. Coalition attack; ganging up.

A discredits A to defend (credit) B. Sacrifice. For example: A takes the blame for B. "It was my fault…"

A discredits A to defend A. A attacks his own image to protect himself from an image attack by another (or from himself). As noted, this is also the basic form of apologies – A takes the blame to get credit for being willing to take responsibility and undo some of the harm. As in many actions, the person divides in two and one part acts, the other is a recipient of the act.

A and B agree to not discredit each: Two or more sides reach agreement to not challenge the other or to keep challenges within limits. The realm of human interactions can be viewed as a vast mutual protection or mutual blackmail society in which individuals agree to limit discrediting actions (as well as refrain from outright physical assaults and thefts) so as to reduce tensions and benefit the self-esteem of everyone involved. The rules of social life are filled with examples of things people don't say and do in relation to each other. It is hemmed in with barriers created by tact and politeness.

A is careful not to mention B's baldness, his moles, his annoying manner, his lack of courage. B is careful not to mention A's annoying spouse, his wrinkles, and aggressive manner. Backstage, in the privacy of their homes or off to the side with co-workers, some of the pent up urges to discredit and the perceptions that could not be expressed come tumbling out, as everyone revels in the ability to speak bluntly and sadistically.

These descriptions are expanded further when we add in the other actions: power and subordination, harming and helping, opposing and cooperating.:

A defends B and in so doing acts subordinate to B.

A defends B and in so doing acts subordinate to C.

A discredits B and in so doing exerts power over B and C.

A and B discredit C and in so doing they exert power over C and act subordinate to D.

It should be possible to organize these descriptions into tables that cover all the possibilities. But there are a number of complicating factors in these descriptions that also need to be taken into account:

First, it is important to note that what players credit and discredit each other for may vary within the same sentence. For example, if A appoints B to a position, C may discredit B, saying he isn’t competent to fill the position. But B is really trying to discredit A on the issue of judgment in who he appointed. So in order to be clear, a schematic description like this may need to describe what value in the binary pairs the act of discredit or credit refers to.

Second, the connecting link that has been used, here is the phrase "and in so doing", as in – A discredits B and, in so doing, submits to B. This signifies that one action carries the other – the act of discrediting B is also a form of submission. When this phrase is used to describe acts of credit and discredit, it is always describing how various players see what is going on. If we say, A discredits B, we are saying that B is now looked on in a negative way by A and/or B and/or C. So, to be complete, we need to specify who the audience is.

Obviously, we can also describe motives rather than the actual actions. Here, we would say, for example, A credits or discredits in order to or with the intention of – A credits B in order to credit C, and so on. A more or less complete description, (which is rarely possible) would describe motive and result: A intended to discredit B in order to enhance his own image with C. But A’s action ended up discrediting A in C’s eyes. John criticized Mark to look good to Alice but Alice ended up thinking John is a bully.

It should also be noted that a defense can be against an attack that has happened, is happening or might happen. For example, John blames Mark because he has been blamed by Alice. Or John blames Mark in order to not be blamed by Alice.

These descriptions can also take invitations, requests and commands into account, as in:

A invites B to discredit C: "So what do you think of your opponent’s new plan?"

Inviting newsmakers to defend, enhance and attack themselves and others is one of the most important things journalists do to elicit raw material.

These possibilities can probably be summed up in one mega-statement. Here is a partial statement of this type: A, B and/or C can defend, enhance or attack A, B, and/or C, singly or in any combination, and, in so doing, defend, enhance or attack A, B, and/or C.

The mega-statement would include the various actions described here. For example, it would include the fact that we can harm to oppose. We can exert power to help. We can cooperate to harm or help. We can use power to harm or help, oppose or cooperate. And so on.

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