October 17, 2019

"Pointing is a gesture specifying a direction from a person's body, usually indicating a location, person, event, thing or idea...."

"Types of pointing may be subdivided according to the intention of the person, as well as by the linguistic function it serves. Pointing typically develops within the first two years of life in humans, and plays an important role in language development and reading in children..... The nature of pointing may differ for children who have autism or who are deaf, and may also vary by gender... Types of pointing are traditionally further divided by purpose, between imperative and declarative pointing. Imperative pointing is pointing to make a request for an object, while declarative pointing is pointing to declare, to comment on an object.... Types of communicative pointing may be divided by linguistic function into three main groups: Objective pointing - pointing to an object within the visual field of both the pointer and the receiver, such as pointing to a chair which is physically present; Syntactic or anaphoric pointing - pointing to linguistic entities or expressions previously identified, such as pointing to the chair which is not physically present; Imaginative pointing - pointing to things that exist in the imagination, such as pointing to a fictional or remembered chair...."

I'm reading the Wikipedia article "Pointing" a propos of Nancy Pelosi's pointing at Trump (as seen in my post "Political theater" earlier this morning).

Unfortunately, the Wikipedia article did not have what I'd hoped for, something that's often in a Wikipedia article, a history section. I had a feeling that there were famous examples of pointing, perhaps in painting. Googling didn't help. The first thing that came up was Michelangelo's painting of God creating Adam, and that's not really pointing, is it?!



I do have in my memory the final moments of Act I of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible," as performed here in Madison many years ago. The drama spiraled up until many girls were suddenly all pointing at the character accused of witchcraft and then the lights blacked out. Chills! Intermission. I don't have video of that, but from the text:
ABIGAIL: I want to open myself!... I want the light of God, I want the sweet love of Jesus! I danced for the Devil; I saw him; I wrote in his book; I go back to Jesus; I kiss His hand. I saw Sarah Good with the Devil! I saw Goody Osburn with the Devil! I saw Bridget Bishop with the Devil!...

BETTY, staring too: I saw George Jacobs with the Devil! I saw Goody Howe with the Devil!

PARRIS: She speaks! He rushes to embrace Betty. She speaks!

HALE: Glory to God! It is broken, they are free!

BETTY, calling out hysterically and with great relief: I saw Martha Bellows with the Devil!

ABIGAIL: I saw Goody Sibber with the Devil! It is rising to a great glee.

PUTNAM: The marshal, I’ll call the marshal!

Parris is shouting a prayer of thanksgiving.

BETTY: I saw Alice Barrow with the Devil!

The curtain begins to fall.

HALE, as Putnam goes out: Let the marshal bring irons!

ABIGAIL: I saw Goody Hawkins with the Devil!

BETTY: I saw Goody Bibber with the Devil!

ABIGAIL: I saw Goody Booth with the Devil!

On their ecstatic cries

THE CURTAIN FALLS.
Yes, in the production I saw, the scene ended with all the girls were frozen in a pointing gesture.

44 comments:

Owen said...

Michelangelo’s painting shows pointing in its purest form: not just directing our attention to something seen or imagined, but summoning that thing into existence.

rhhardin said...

I'd say Pelosi is using it for ostensive definition.

tcrosse said...

Pointless.

Lucid-Ideas said...

Standing while making your point is a sign of emotional disturbance and lack of control. It is unprofessional, no matter the setting. Pelosi does what her side and her supporters always do, let Trump get under their skin and totally fly of the handle, point fingers, and break shit in Portland.

Remember Hillary under examination when she was Sec. State? "WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE!"

The difference it makes is that you're not POTUS.

rhhardin said...

Pointing is more complicated now that there are 57 gender pronouns.

No good just saying "Him!" and pointing.

narayanan said...

I visualize a six-pack held between "father and son"

Owen said...

Rhhardin: you must always have swept the board in “Wordpower” contests. Latin as a kid?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

How about Masaccio's Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

...since we are already on the subject of Adam's dick pics...

Fernandistein said...

The Poynting vector has always been one of my favorite vectors.

Amadeus 48 said...

Frozen finger-wagging by Pelosi. Not a good look.

She's saying, "You never make the bed. You never put away your shoes. You never take out the garbage until I tell you. You load the dishwasher wrong."

chickelit said...

The word "Indicative' is rooted in pointing. You can look it up or just give my comment the finger.

chickelit said...

The Press uses the indicative mood to express the subjunctive all the time. The Press killed the subjunctive mood. My eulogy is here.

Chris-2-4 said...

https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ap-art-history/early-europe-and-colonial-americas/renaissance-art-europe-ap/a/raphael-school-of-athens

Bob Boyd said...

"Mr.Bigstuff, tell me, who do you think you are?" - The Pointer Sisters

wendybar said...

I remember when the media went after Governor Jan Brewer for "pointing" at Saint Obama. Back when the press was behind the President, kissing his butt.....And they wonder WHY we don't pay any attention to whatever they spew daily? We don't BELIEVE them!!!

Owen said...

Chickelit: went to the link “Eulogy for a mood”). Excellent. The Orwell gets you serious bonus points, but your targeting of the subjunctive was IMHO exactly right. My own favorite example of magical thinking is Richard Feynman’s 1974 Cal Tech commencement lecture called “Cargo Cult Science.” A similar pathology where by adopting the outward forms of a desired state one can summon it into existence. Not. Nature has no patience for bullshit.

Mark O said...

She leapt to her feet, pointed at Trump and shouted that the only fair construction was in pluperfect subjunctive.

What shocks the conscience here is that after everything she has said about Trump, he would be willing to meet with her. There should always be video.

Limited blogger said...

More evidence of Trump winning, and re-writing the rules.

They all think they have to be a rude asshole to succeed.

What will we do after Trump is gone?

stevew said...

Here's what I understand to have happened: She stood, She pointed, She raised her voice, She spoke insults.

I would not characterize that as a 'meltdown', but those are, in aggregate, the behaviors of someone that has lost control of their emotions. In my experience, this happens to normally calm people when they feel frustration from a lack of control. It happens to powerful people when they don't get what they expect, or when others fail to show the deference they are used to receiving.

Trump brings out the worst in his political adversaries.

JohnAnnArbor said...

There's a reason Trump occasionally lets the press stay at these meetings throughout, much to Democrat chagrin. It prevents them from making up stuff about the meeting later.

He should do that more often. "What, you're afraid to talk in public about policy?"

Quaestor said...

Pelosi is trying to do a Quaestor on Trump.

However, she severely lacks the mojo.

John Althouse Cohen said...

My live-blog of the last debate noted that Biden kept aggressively pointing or otherwise using his fingers/hand:

8:31 - There's some visible tension between Sanders and Biden: Biden is talking while physically putting his finger on Sanders's arm, and Sanders keeps raising his hand to respond to Biden.

9:24 - Another touchy-feely moment between Biden and Sanders: Biden says Trump is saying comforting words to Vladimir Putin while pointing directly at Sanders, who says: "Are you saying I'm Putin?" Biden says, "No!" — and they hug each other.

10:31 - The 3 top-polling candidates use up a lot of time talking amongst each other, maybe as a tactic to prevent lesser candidates from getting too much time. Biden decides that now is the time to go back to his disagreements with Sanders on health care (I thought that was hours ago!), and then Sanders brings up Biden's position on the Iraq War. Biden repeatedly jabs his hand at Warren and shouts at her: "I got you votes!"

tcrosse said...

Leonardo's St. John the Baptist pointing upwards.

Earnest Prole said...

You forgot the most important historical example: The Pointer Sisters.

Big Mike said...

@Althouse, perhaps you are correctly concluding that Lithgow, Pelosi, Biden, Sanders, et. al., is all just theater of the absurd?

RNB said...

J'accuse!

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Don't forget Uncle Sam's I Want You

George Grady said...

If you want pointing art, there's Harry Chapin's Verities and Balderdash, and don't forget that Uncle Sam wants YOU for U.S. Army.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

BJ Clinton's bony, accusatory finger pointing compilation

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGCnpsZ9YcI

traditionalguy said...

It's the words naming the objects that makes our pointing at them have a meaning. And using all the fingers or sticks , without a language used people cannot control either themselves or others by pointing.

Pelosi and other tyrants use a finger point to show their power to name/brand the target of the community that must submit or else be hunted down and stoned to extermination. And the Revolutionary Trump laughed in her face.

Ambrose said...

St John the Baptist was traditionally depicted as pointing in Medieval and Renaissance art.

mockturtle said...

Trump Derangement Syndrome=Mass Hysteria, like the witchcraft accusations in Salem, MA. The Crucible could easily be used allegorically today, for both TDS and the MeToo movement.

Narr said...

O let us not stand on punctilio.

Narr
And then she swept from the room

dustbunny said...

Dylan quit writing what he called “finger-pointing songs” way back in 1964 and the left is still waiting for him to act so much younger now.

Sebastian said...

We can all point to meaningful pointing.

But the meaning of Pelosi's citing is different.

In a professional meeting, such pointing is a loser move. In decades of meetings, I have never seen it. It would horrify any sane professional. Even as theater, even as performance art played out for the cameras, it is self-discrediting.

narayanan said...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_School_of_Athens#/media/File:Sanzio_01_Plato_Aristotle.jpg

pointing vs encompassing (and accepting)

wildswan said...

It used to be that if you lost your temper and became indecorous you lost. Now behaving that way is just adding a scene to the long-running series on the DC vs. The President. There are two versions of the series - so this scene is "Brave Nancy-has-a=Perry-Mason-moment in one version, and "Shrill Nancy-has a-Hamilton=Burger moment in another.

https://www.bestbuy.com/site/perry-mason-season-1-vol-1-5-discs-dvd/7817115.p?skuId=7817115

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/375417318919740700/?nic=1

Roger Sweeny said...

Humans and dogs will look toward a point, to determine what is being pointed at. Very few other animals, even chimps, will do it.

mockturtle said...

J'accuse!

tcrosse said...

It has been pointed out that when you point a finger at someone, there are three fingers pointed back at you. Point taken.

daskol said...

I went to that old cafe
Where I had been in much happier days
And all of my friends were there
And no one cared
Say what they may, all of my friends were there
Not just my friends, but their best friends too
All of my friends were there
Now I don't care

daskol said...

Pelosi-finger vs. Brewer-Finger, the only Brewer competition left this baseball season. If Ed Driscoll were better, he'd have linked to your post here with this

Blair said...

Pointing is whiteness manifest.