Tuesday, October 28, 2014

[BoRT October 2014] The Mask of Sanity: Persona 4 as a Psychopathy Simulator

            “The surface of the psychopath…shows up as equal to or better than normal and gives no hint at all of a disorder within. Nothing about him suggests oddness, inadequacy, or moral frailty. His mask is that of robust mental health. Yet…nowhere within do we find a real cause or a sincere commitment, reasonable or unreasonable.” – Hervey Cleckley, The Mask of Sanity

            “There is an idea of a Patrick Bateman; some kind of abstraction. But there is no real me... I simply am not there.” – Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho

            As the train arrives at Inaba station and the silver-haired young protagonist steps off, I am gripped by an immediate realization: there is something terribly wrong with Yu Narukami.

Yu Narukami, psychopath?
            Call it something in the eyes. Something in his calm, placid expression which belies an inner emptiness. He is not a teenager stepping away from his city life and into a strange new town. He does not carry a beloved stuffed animal or pictures of his old friends and family. Nothing in life up until now has left a mark on him, externally or internally. He is an enigma, an empty set.

Most readers are probably familiar with Persona 4 – whether from the original game, the remake, the spin-off games, the manga, the anime, or from its popularity as an objet d’cosplay. However, if you have not played Persona 4 and plan to in the future, here there be spoilers.

            Persona 4 is the story of Yu Narukami’s search for the truth behind an urban legend: if you look at a powered-off television on a rainy midnight, it will show you your soul mate. As Yu and his friends research this phenomena, they discover that the “Midnight Channel” does not show your soul mate, but rather the future victims of a serial killer.

These victims have been literally pushed through the screen of a television into a parallel world. If they are not rescued from the TV world, they will be killed by “Shadows,” monsters which are born from human hearts. Each person who enters the Midnight Channel is confronted by their personal Shadow, a dark double that exhibits repressed aspects of their personality.

Rise's Shadow Self
These shadow selves are able to assert their existence against the conscious mind which tries to repress them in the parallel world. For example, Rise, a burnt-out celebrity, is confronted by her repressed “public persona,” a cloying teenage nymph. Kanji’s Shadow is a mincing homosexual stereotype which expresses his fear of women.

The originals are trapped in the Midnight Channel with these doppelgangers, these visible representations of all that they fear about themselves. Naturally, the originals hate and fear these shadow selves since they represent painful, repressed feelings. Worse, the shadow selves are performing the worst possible version of these feelings for the audiences watching the Midnight Channel.
Rise's Monstrous Shadow

            These shadow shelves do not become physically aggressive until the original shouts “You are not me” (or something to that effect), cutting themselves off from the subconscious. At that point, the shadow self transforms into a monstrous, violent form. Rise’s monstrous shadow self is a neon stripper performing on a strip pole. Kanji’s is a feminized “Macho Man” surrounded by flowers. This monstrous shadow attacks the protagonists, and the game enters a turn-based battle.

Throughout the process of imprisonment in the Midnight Channel, the victim is not simply put into mortal danger, they are reduced to an object. Their physical forms are objectified via the violence of the killer, but their internal selves are also reduced to objects of amusement for the viewers of the Midnight Channel. Once the battle is won, the victim accepts that “Thou art I and I am Thou” and the dangerous shadow self is transformed into a helpful Persona.

Himiko, Rise's Persona
This Persona is a “light” version of the shadow self. While the shadow self is visually unsettling, the Persona is a positive expression of the repressed emotion. Rise’s Persona has antennas that link it to her media self, but it is elegantly dressed instead of stripped nude. Kanji’s is solely masculine, without the feminizing elements which he fears. In the English version, these Personas are described as a “façade used to overcome life's hardships.”

In other words, the Personas are useful masks, aspects of the self that can be called upon to help face the outside world. What began as a dangerous aspect of the self is transformed into a useful tool. Once the passive victims have been rescued and come to terms with their inner selves, they become active party members - participants instead of objects.

            This pattern holds true in an inverted form for the villainous characters of Persona 4. Kubo’s monstrous shadow self reflects the video games he uses to hide his emotionally stunted inner self. Namatame’s monstrous shadow self reflects his messianic self-delusion. Kubo does not reconcile with his shadow self, so it cannot become a positive Persona. Namatame identifies too closely with his monstrous shadow, and so, once defeated, he loses the ability to summon a persona.

Whether victim or villain, each person who enters the Midnight Channel has the worst aspect of their inner selves personified and displayed for the entire world to see. Even Adachi and Namatame, who supposedly received the same powers as Yu, both have their internal selves exposed and objectified for the audience.

Everyone except Yu Narukami.

Izanagi, Yu's Persona
            Yu starts out with a Persona that was never a monstrous shadow. Izanagi is simply a suit of armor in a coat. Yu is never truly victimized, never truly powerless, never reduced to an object. The closest he ever comes is in the ‘true’ ending, where he experiences ego death at the hands of Izanami. But even then, he does not have confront and accept a monstrous shadow, an evil doppelganger. Instead, he is rescued from ego death by his bonds with the other characters.

One might argue that Izanami is Yu’s monstrous shadow self, his dark opposite. However, he does not defeat her by recognizing her as a part of himself, he denies her nihilism with the power of “truth.” Unlike Teddy, he does not have not admit that these feelings of nihilism are a part of himself. His Persona transforms into its final form without any personal change or sacrifice. Much like the original myth of Izanagi and Izanami, he frees himself by escaping her, not by embracing her.

Moreover, while the other characters are limited to a single Persona, Yu can switch between multiple Personas. In a mechanic familiar to fans of the Shin Megami Tensei and Persona franchises, his Personas can be fused into new, more powerful versions. They are all received from the outside, not born from Yu’s internal self.

As the other party members come to better understand their inner selves by interacting with Yu, their Personas level up and they gain new abilities. While some of these abilities are personal (better attacks, more powerful defensive techniques, etc.) a surprising number of them are for Yu’s benefit. For example, upon reaching a certain Social Link level, other characters will sacrifice themselves to protect Yu from enemy attacks.

While leveling up your Social Link with other characters helps them with their inner emotional troubles, it also allows Yu to summon more powerful Personas. Since he has no Persona or Social Link of his own, Yu can only live vicariously through the emotional growth of others. For the other characters, a Persona is a Mask of Self, a part of their own personality which allows them to face the world. For Yu, a Persona is a Mask of Other which he can imitate in order to face the world.

This is the textbook behavior of a Psychopath, emotionally detached but able to imitate and manipulate the feelings of others. Psychopaths are able to create ‘masks’ out of the behavior they observe in others, making a façade solely “to overcome life’s hardships.” They form social bonds, not because of emotional attachment, but because of the benefits they receive from imitating emotional attachment.

Yu explicitly does not have an internal life of his own. His original Persona is granted by an outside source, not a part of himself which he has come to accept. His subsequent Personas are granted by imitating those around him. While the player may be invested in the relationships formed with other characters, they also have an alternate agenda – making and improving Social Links benefits the player and makes the game easier.

Improving Social Links is an integral part of playing the game
Social Links are improved by making choices in conversations. Some choices will endear you to the target and some will make them dislike you. If the player is seeking 100% completion (or even to level up a Social Link efficiently within the limited game time), honesty is the worst policy. The game does not reward facing your inner self and using it to overcome life’s hardships. It does not reward honest emotional connections. The game rewards callously manipulating the feelings of your partner - saying what they want to hear, not what you want to say.

By encouraging socially manipulative gameplay, Persona 4 actively discourages players from developing a consistent persona for Yu. Unlike Atlus' more recent game Catherine, which encourages the player to answer dialogue choices “honestly” and provides true endings for three distinct paths, making the wrong choices in Persona 4 will end the game early. Making choices that deviate from the “correct” answer penalize the player and can potentially lock off the majority of the game’s content.

This tendency is even worse in Persona 4: the Golden, where most of the game’s new content can only be obtained by sticking to a very narrow band of choices. In this case, the player is financially penalized in the real world for making honest choices. The new dungeons, boss fights, and the full ending are locked away behind the “right choices.”

One does not have to be a psychopath to play and enjoy Persona 4, but one must act like a psychopath to access all of its content. The game cannot be truly won without discarding all internal emotional consistency, manipulating the feelings of others, and using them to create masks of your own. Izanagi, the closest thing Yu has to an actual Persona, is a shell, a mask, an empty being wearing human clothes. Unlike the other Personas, it says nothing about his inner struggle, nothing about his inner life.

Yu’s ultimate attack is “Myriad Truths” but they are all truths he has taken from others. It is an imitation of a self, a mask with nothing behind it. The inner truth represented by Izanami, that life ends in death and not all truths can be known, is mercilessly repressed.

For all of the investigation, for all of the “seeking for the truth” that the game encourages you to do, it never truly explores the truth of Yu. We learn the truth about Yu’s friends and Yu’s enemies, but never the truth about Yu. We do not know who his parents are, what city he grew up in, how many siblings he has, or what his early life was like.

As his friends wave goodbye at the end of the game, the only thing we know about Yu is how well he performed a set calculated of social inputs. A poor performance is punished with a bad ending, a good performance is rewarded by a good ending, and emotionlessly following the script to perfection is rewarded by the true ending. His performance ended, Yu leaves Inaba just as he came – empty, and void of self.

Next: BoRT Followup

Friday, October 24, 2014

Who Frames Roger Rabbit? - Cartoon Characters as Recognized Individuals (Part Seven)

Part Six

To make sense of cartoons as objects of consciousness, I am going to refer to the “moe element” model of Japanese critic/philosopher Hiroki Azuma. Moe is a Japanese term used to describe a feeling of affection, most commonly for a fictional character. Since the term moe has connotations unique to Japanese cartoon culture, I will use the broader term “affective element” in order to apply the same basic concept in a non-Japanese media context, while keeping the term “moe” when quoting directly from Azuma. Describing the mascot-turned-cartoon character Digiko, Azuma describes the affective elements used to create her:

Affective elements of Dijiko
“I will not describe the characteristics of each element here, but note that each element, with its own origins and background, constitutes a category that has been developed in order to stimulate the interest of the consumers. It is not a simple fetish object, but a sign that emerged through market principles...Most of the moe elements are visual, but there are other kinds of moe elements, such as a particular way of speaking, settings, stereotypical narrative development, and the specific curves of a figurine” (Azuma 42).

In the case of Mickey Mouse, these affective elements would be things like big yellow shoes, gloved four fingered hands, or big round ears. But as Azuma points out, affective elements are not just physical. Digiko has an unusual way of speaking (ending all of her sentences with ~nyo) and a stereotypically heroine-esque “cocky and carefree” personality (ibid 40). We might recognize similar characteristics in Mickey's squeaky voice and cheerful attitude.

This can seem like an unusual classification system at first, but the idea of physical affective elements is more or less tacitly acknowledged by copyright law. A character such as Mickey Mouse is covered by three distinct legal protections.

First, Mickey's design is protected by a copyright. This includes physical affective elements such as his round ears, four-fingered hands, and big yellow shoes. The design copyright does not cover individual elements such as four-fingered hands (many cartoon characters, such as Bugs Bunny, use the same physical affective element), but rather their total combination. Second, Mickey's individual animated films are each covered by an individual copyright. Third, Mickey is trademarked as a symbol of the Disney Company.

While the second form of copyright protects particular films (what we might call particular physical objects), the first protects his design without reference to medium. Note that the term “physical affective elements” does not in fact refer to a physical material, but rather a physical relation. It is not a drawing of a four-fingered hand that defines Mickey as an object of consciousness, but rather the design a four-fingered hand in relation to a set of other design elements.

This is why the physical medium does not matter from the consumer's perspective or from a legal perspective. It does not matter if Mickey is ink and paper, binary code, or projected light: all that matters is the proper arrangement of physical affective elements.

It is possible for there to be genuine conflict between these physical affective elements. For example, Mickey cannot be simultaneously defined by “round ears” and “square ears.” Now, a particular animator may draw Mickey with square ears, but this would be viewed as an aberration of the commonly accepted definition of Mickey.

More importantly, the round ears cannot exist simultaneously with round ears in a single design or in a single manifestation of a design (unless a character has two sets of ears). There is a limit to the extent to which these physical effective elements can be played with before a cartoon character is no longer recognizable as Mickey Mouse.

For example, a drawing of Mickey with square ears would be unusual, but so long as all of the other physical affective elements were in play, audiences will still recognize Mickey as Mickey. Certainly, Disney would be capable of taking legal action against a company that created a cartoon character that was in all respects identical to Mickey other than the shape of the ears

 Just as we would recognize a person who has gotten a haircut or lost a limb as still being the same person, minor changes to a cartoon character's appearance do not prevent us from recognizing them (or prevent Disney from successfully pursuing lawsuits against copyright violators).
"What is Doc?"

However, Disney would not be able to sue Warner Brothers for using a character design with long ears, whiskers, paws, buck teeth, and a tail, even if both characters have four-fingered hands. Bugs Bunny is considered a separate character from Mickey Mouse precisely because they have sufficiently incompatible sets of physical affective elements.

The question of copyright violation raises another important point - the Disney Corporation may have the sole legal authority to create physical manifestations of the object of consciousness known as “Mickey Mouse,” but they are not the only ones with the capacity to do so. These copyrights are of vital importance to the Disney Corporation because almost anyone with a pen and sheet of paper can arrange physical affective elements in such a way as to depict Mickey Mouse. More importantly, anyone with the proper tools can recreate depictions of Mickey Mouse onto T-Shirts, backpacks, coffee mugs, and so on.

Counterfeit Disney characters in China
This leaves us the conclusion that the object of consciousness to which the concept of a cartoon character is attached is itself a concept. A cartoon character is a sort of meta-concept; a concept expressed according to a communally-accepted conceptual design, not by any particular physical manifestation of the design.

Much as “Justice” is not defined by any particular object, but rather by a set of legal and social meta-concepts, so a cartoon character is not defined by a particular ink and paper drawing. It is actually quite simple to accurately reproduce an object which can instantly be recognized by almost any human being as Mickey Mouse; much easier than committing an action that would be universally acknowledged as Just.

(Continued in Part Eight)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Who Frames Roger Rabbit? - Cartoon Characters as Recognized Individuals (Part Six)

Part Five

Section Three: Mickey Geist - The Ontology of Mickey Mouse

“For experience is just this, that the content - which is Spirit - is in itself substance, and therefore an object of consciousness. But this substance which is Spirit is the process which Spirit becomes what it is in itself; and it is only as this process of reflecting itself into itself that it is in itself truly Spirit...the transforming of that in-itself into that which is for itself...of the object of consciousness into an object of self-consciousness, i.e. into an object that is just as much superseded, or into the Notion”
(Phenomenology 802).

When we speak of the ontology of Mickey Mouse, we are of course not discuss a living, self-conscious organic being. But simply saying that Mickey Mouse is not an organic being does not tell us just exactly Mickey Mouse is, only what he is not. In this section, I will discuss Mickey Mouse as an object of consciousness, as an artificial self-consciousness, and as a function of self-consciousness.
At first glance, the question of Mickey Mouse as an object of consciousness seems like a simple one. Wouldn't the object of consciousness be the ink and paper of which a drawing of Mickey is made up? After all, Steamboat Willie is composed of a series of paper and ink drawings which have an actual physical existence.

However, while we could legitimately point to a particular ink and paper drawing as an object of consciousness that makes up Mickey Mouse, there are any number of other physical objects that could just as easily and just as validly described as “Mickey Mouse.” Moreover, these disparate physical objects have contradictory elements which make basing our definition of Mickey Mouse on them as invalid as defining both a solid which conducts electricity and a solid which does not as “Copper” invalid.

We could use the definition of “ink and paper,” but a Steamboat Willie is not simply a series of ink drawings on paper, but also a series of ink and paper drawings converted into film cells. Even then, consumers do not view the films cells directly, but rather as light filtered through the cells and projected on a screen. The majority of people who have seen Steamboat Willie have never seen the unprojected film cells, let alone the original ink and paper drawings. Furthermore, we can just as validly refer to a digital stream of binary code which shows the same sequence of images as Steamboat Willie.

Furthermore, not all depictions of Mickey Mouse were originally executed in ink and paper. Epic Mickey and Kingdom Hearts both use computer-generated polygons to depict Mickey, electronically stored zeroes and ones which consumers never see. Instead, they see an interpretation of the zeroes and ones projected onto a television screen, which is just as much of a trick of the light as Steamboat Willie. Even if a consumer were to read the series of zeroes and ones which define Mickey in these video games, they would be unable to interpret them as “Mickey” without the extremely rare ability to read binary code.

In all these cases, the majority of consumers at no point interact with what we originally considered to be the “object of consciousness,” but with a trick of projected light. How then should we understand Mickey Mouse as an object of consciousness? Is he the ink and paper? The electronic code? The illusion of form and movement created by projection?

What becomes clear is that the “object of consciousness” is not a physical object, and in fact has very little relation to any physical object. Whereas “copper” exists as a physical object which our concept of copper can be compared against, “Mickey Mouse” does not. We can test the validity of our concept of copper by comparing it with the physical object. It does not matter if we use “Lump of Copper A” or “Lump of Copper B” (assuming they are both of sufficient purity); either one will have identical physical properties that can be used to test our concept of copper.

However, we cannot test the validity of “Mickey Mouse” in the same way. “Ink Drawing of Mickey A” and “Binary Code Model of Mickey A” would naturally have massively conflicting physical properties, and yet can both be reasonably said to be “Mickey Mouse.” Ink drawings and computer renderings are manifestations of Mickey Mouse, not the object of consciousness itself.

(Continued in Part Seven)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Who Frames Roger Rabbit? - Cartoon Characters as Recognized Individuals (Part Five)

Part Four

Early sequential art used the same normative framework as pre-enlightenment societies. Egyptian and pre-Columbian sequential art (comics, if we use McCloud's definition) both import the normative models of the societies that created them. They portray sittlichkeit individuals defined by the “eternal” laws of society, which are the laws of nature. 

These pre-enlightenment forms of art are as much bound by the “eternal, immutable” laws of society as pre-enlightenment individuals. We might even speculate that the artists who created them were incapable of conceiving of an alternate normative framework, much as Antigone is incapable of seeing a true conflict between the law of the polis and the law of the family. To conceive of an alternate normative framework is to put oneself “above the law.”

In any event, what sequential art survives seems to reproduce authoritative social normativity rather than re-imagine it. Even the gods and other non-physical imaginary (from our perspective) beings are either bound by the laws or actively enforce them.
Modern sequential art was also bound by the normative considerations of the time - or as we might say, unbound by them. It is here that we first see creative attempts to re-imagine society in new forms. Unlike the authoritarian normativity of pre-modern sequential art, modern comic artists recognized social roles and norms as human-made.

I would argue that Winsor McCay was able to set Little Nemo in a world distinct from his own precisely because of the Enlightenment. If the social roles and norms of 1910s America are recognized as human creations, it becomes much easier for an artist to invent his own quasi-historical world. However, we do not see a completely alienated normativity. Little Nemo retains the form of a historic, normative world. Time flows from past to present to future, and individuals occupy particular places in space and time.
Azuma Hiroki, whose work I will refer to later, suggests that these modern quasi-historical narratives come into existence precisely because the greater, authoritarian normativity has broken down. Little Nemo takes place in a fictionalized world which mimics earlier social narratives, even though it was created in an alienated, post-enlightenment world because consumers still crave the lost sittlichkeit. Alienated consumers seek refuge in fictional normativity.
But this fictional normativity is still subject to alienation and the very same ironic detachment that plagues all post-Enlightenment individuals. Though the world of Little Nemo may provide temporary relief for a post-Enlightenment consumer, accepting its normative constraints as binding, accepting its quasi-historical world as true, would be unthinkable. It is no more relevant to alienated “reality” than the world of the Pharaohs. To take it a step further, the world of Nemo is no more real to the alienated consumer than his own society. Both are mere subjective products of human creativity, not a part of objective scientific reality.
We see a further weakening of traditional authoritarian normativity in the world of Mickey Mouse. Whereas in Little Nemo there is a single quasi-historical normative framework, Mickey Mouse cartoons exchange quasi-historical normativity for social recognitive normativity. Mickey Mouse can exist in any time and any place, so long as his physical design and social relations remain intact. 

Conflicting attempts to place Mickey in a quasi-historical framework such as the Mickey Mouse comic strip or Epic Mickey only serve to highlight the relative unimportance of quasi-historical normativity. Quasi-historical narratives of Mickey can be swapped out at will or exist in parallel with each other without a feeling of conflict on the part of the consumer.
In other words, the world of Mickey is given meaning not by a social narrative or by objective physical existence, but by social recognition. Consumers recognize Mickey as an individual because he exists in a fictional network of mutual recognition. By recognizing the validity of these fictional social relations, consumers create a space for Mickey Mouse in their own recognitive networks. What matters is not the physical reality (or lack thereof) of a being called Mickey Mouse, but the social recognitive reality that Mickey Mouse is recognized by consumers as a particular individual with particular traits.

This is precisely how norms of all kinds are recognized in Hegel's Third Stage. Mickey Mouse can be said to have a normative existence precisely because human individuals act as if he does. By consuming media, by recognizing Mickey Mouse in both Steamboat Willie and The Sorcerer's Apprentice as the same individual, we bind ourselves to a normative structure which accepts as normative the fictional mutual recognition of cartoon characters.
Mickey Mouse no more of an objective physical existence as a real being than concepts such as Justice or Good. At the same time, he also has as much potential to be communally recognized as any other concept which joins in the Bacchanalian revel of the truth. Although the concept of Mickey Mouse may change, become worn out, and eventually fall out of the revel, this in no way impinges upon his current socially normative existence.
This is a form of normative recognition which could not take place under the conditions of pre-Enlightenment sittlichkeit or Modern alienation. Pre-Enlightenment sittlichkeit would not allow for alternative societal models. Modern alienation would be unable to recognize a non-physical normative existence as binding. In recognizing Mickey Mouse, we have implicitly bound ourselves to the idea that human-made normative structures are valid.
At risk of taking this argument too far, we might also say that the existence of a globally recognized concept such as Mickey Mouse which exists solely by virtue of communal recognition is a real-world example of the validity of Hegel's third stage of history. After all, the moral valet can easily criticize Justice as a mere abstraction which individuals only adhere to for particular, selfish reasons it is difficult to deny the existence of a concept such as Mickey Mouse. 

The existence of a concept like Mickey Mouse, which can only be explained by communal normative behavior and has an undeniable impact on the socio-economic behavior of such a wide range of individual humans, is a surprisingly effective counterargument against pure alienation.

(Continued in Part Six)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Who Frames Roger Rabbit? - Cartoon Characters as Recognized Individuals (Part Four)

Part Three

Section Two: Sittlichkeit Mouse - Toward a Hegelian Model of Cartoon Recognition

[Short post today, might put up another part later this week.]

Having briefly outlined a history of cartoons, I would now like to briefly review Hegel's Three Stages of History. The First Stage is pre-enlightenment sittlichkeit (roughly, 'non-alienation'), where social roles and norms are seen as part of the “architecture of the universe,” that is to say, they are as much a part of the natural world as gravity. Human individuals recognize each other by these laws, and do not suffer alienation. Hegel quotes from Sophocles' Antigone to show the relationship between individual self-consciousnesses and these eternal laws:
“'They are not of yesterday or today, but everlasting,
Though where they came from, none of us can tell.'
"They are. If I inquire after their origin and confine them to the point whence they arose, then I have transcended them; for now it is I who am the universal, and they are the conditioned and limited. If they are supposed to be validated by my insight, then I have already denied their unshakable, intrinsic being, and regard them as something which, for me, is perhaps true, but also is perhaps not true...” (Phenomenology 437).
Problems arise when these eternal, perfect laws come into conflict, particularly the self-consciousness-dissolving law of the community and the individualistic law of the family. The community “creates an internal enemy for itself in what it suppresses and what is at the same time essential to it (femininity in general)” (ibid 475). The two “natural” laws come in conflict, exposing their human-made nature. This conflict paves the way for the Second Stage.

The Second Stage is the Modern, where the Enlightenment reveals social rules and norms to be entirely man-made. Modernity is making a contrast between things that physically exist and moral attitudes, which are created by humans. Although Hegel views this as an overall positive development, it also results in alienation and cynicism. Hegel gives us the picture of the “moral valet” who can only see the disparity between handlung (intention) and tat (actuality) that all action involves.

This niedertkiet individual sees nothing but invalid man-made normative attitudes all the way down. It is in this stage that Hegel frames the tension between Faith and Reason. In his formulation, Reason rightly criticizes Faith's ontology, while failing to recognize the value of the communally recognized normative structures that Faith allows.

The Third Stage is the Post-Modern, in which Enlightenment is recombined with sittlichkeit. Social roles and norms are recognized as valid and binding, not in spite of the fact that they are the products of the human mind, but rather precisely because of mutually binding social recognition. In other words, norms really exist and people's normative attitudes are sometimes right. By a process of repentance and forgiveness, all of history is made meaningful and the inherent meaningfulness of communally-recognized norms is established.

This is, of course, an extremely truncated version of Hegel's model, but it will serve for the purpose of comparison with the evolution of comics and cartoons.

(Continued in Part Five)