The Art of Violence

The Art of Violence is a long-term project that seeks to derive a scientific method for action design. It’s based on the theory that the unique human ability to use objects in combat creates a complex feedback loop between antagonists who attempt to anticipate what the other’s weapon might be. Human combat is therefore unoptimized. Contrast this with animal combat which is optimized, as each animal intrinsically knows the weapon of the other, creating a small feedback loop and producing simple animal signals.

The feedback loop between antagonists, which I call Merge, judges whether signals such as body gestures, eye movement, and vocal calls have a shared meaning. The use of these signals in the Merge environment, which I call Parsing, defers our capacity for apocalyptic violence. Merge is paradoxically created by violence while also being the very wellspring of all human language and culture such as spoken word, art, writing, technology, and more.

Continued use of Parse (language) over time in the species inhibits neural crest cell movement to the extremities, as we see in domesticated animals, resulting in physiological, cognitive, and sociological developments such as white palms and white sclera, which further assist in Parsing. Technologies emerge when we attain advanced levels of Parsing (language), which can be co-opted by human violence, changing the parameters of Merge, and demanding new levels of Parsing.

Origins of the Theory: Movement Grammar in God of War & Demon’s Souls

The seeds for the Art of Violence were first sown while doing motion capture for Kratos in God of War (2018). When shooting in 2016-2017, I learned (by necessity) how to break a single movement into 5 pieces: in-point, anticipation, hit box, recovery, and out-point. Each of the 5 pieces of the movement could be expanded, contracted, translated, and rotated however the animator needed. By treating a movement like a sentence, I could take a long string of feedback and apply it easily to the next take. I called this Movement Grammar.

Before doing God of War, I spent 15 years working on the Hong Kong/Chinese style of movement. The best examples of this can be seen in Rope A Dope and Rope a Dope 2. I also wrote a video essay on the indie origins of this style as well as its martial origins. A Hong Kong style punch has a snappy anticipation, a fast hit box, and a snappy recovery. It implies a ritualized movement that is more easily positioned in a sequence of moves that lends to cooperative action. It looks like this:

By contrast, the movement language of God of War stressed maximum movement and characterization for each part of the sentence. Each moment is supposed to exude the character. The antic is screams “I’m coming!” the hit box swings for the fences, and the recovery is ready to keep going. It looks like this:

After God of War was invited to do the motion capture for the lead character of Demon’s Souls (2021), which was a Japanese game, and I had to relearn how to move. Gone were the characterizations throughout the movement, and instead the emphasis was on reducing antic and emphasizing recovery. I later wrote in a Sony blog post that training in this movement language gave me a new appreciation of the low-antic, cautious recovery style of Japanese Chambara (samurai) action. Its style looks something like this:

Later I experimented with ways to apply movement grammar to other styles, like the Korean style, with a big antic, snappy hit box, and relaxed recovery that assumes victory. Something like this:

You can use this grammar to change how you step before, during, or after attacks. Gameplay tends to emphasize a pre-step to get your character into position before the hit box registers. This style of footwork is slower but generates a higher level of elastic resistance before the attack, giving a slingshot effect that Eric Williams calls the window of wild. The jerky head movement mid-hit was coined Head Rage by the God of War animators.

Mid-step is usually allowed and produces a different aesthetic. It’s quicker, but it doesn’t generate the same window of wild.

A post-step is less conventional, but some game systems allow for it. It produces an interesting effect with the rear leg I call Dragon’s Tail.

Demon’s Souls also taught me the value of an antic pose. Regular enemies might have a mid-length antic that can be registered by a talented player and a mid-length recovery that gets the character back into the combat quickly. This might also be the timing for a high-cost but high-reward heavy attack by the player.

Low-level bosses might have longer antics. In Demon’s Souls, the developers wanted certain body parts to be exposed (i.e., the “blinking weak spot” of an arcade boss) for the player in the event of a successful dodge. This might also be a higher-cost higher-reward protagonist attack.

One of the most practical skills you can take away from movement grammar is the ability to throw attacks with little to no anticipation. Sometimes this is ideal for NPCs that have to react quickly to player movements without any antic time for the animator to clean up. I call these Quick Draws.

Quick draws are also useful for reactions. Compare the following 3 reactions. The first one has a big anticipation in order to produce a larger reaction. You see this kind of antic in movies because people assume nobody is watching the stuntman wind up to receive a punch. Sometimes it’s fine to move like this in movies, but it risks sapping energy away from the attacker by signaling to the audience that an attack is coming. The audience can often intuit that this signal means “attack coming,” even subconsciously. In video games, the animator has to edit out the antic, since reactions have to be played on-frame. So you might be giving a bigger reaction, but it’s at the cost of adding work to the animator. Ask them where they want the bar to be set.

Here’s a faster antic before the reaction, but you can still see some head movement in anticipation of the attack coming. If the attack line covers this antic, then this reaction is fine for movies. In games, it might be the happy medium.

Lastly, here’s a quick draw antic before a reaction. It’s more visceral, though the lack of antic reduces the translation backward. Sometimes this reaction is too small for an animator, but it might be just right for a gritty action scene.

You can apply animation principles like Squash and Stretch to antics to create interesting variations too.

We can apply movement grammar to simple actions. When a director tells an actor to “pick up the gun,” there are many ways to do this by modifying individual pieces of the sentence. One might reveal a general comfort with the gun, another a reluctance, or a trance-like state, caution in a home, or a lack of regard for gun safety.

In summary, movement grammar allows time and space to be modified at any portion of a movement, in effect treating movement like language. Since movement is more universal than spoken language, then there might be a deeper underlying grammar beneath movement that precedes language. Since animals have movement, but they don’t have grammar in their communication systems, then there must be a specific kind of movement that creates the environment which allows for language. There’s one criterion for this: recursive, object-based aggression (ROBA).

The Problem of Human Violence

Human violence poses an existential threat to the entire world due to our propensity for intraspecific, human-on-human violence. Traditional theories posit that man evolved from chimp due to the pressure of striving for food, mates, and status. These pressures evolved man’s tool skills, communication, cognition, and other large-scale traits which ultimately gave rise to human civilization. Early human development is always analyzed through this lens of man vs. environment. The Oldowan stone industry, for example, is believed to have been the outgrowth of a utilitarian need for tools.

These same theories consider human violence a vestige of animal aggression which threatens civilization. Human reason is held as a separate evolutionary track which can help us overcome this violence. Theorists believe that through our higher reasoning we can crop violence out of society.

Such theories then have to contend with a few problems:

  1. intra-specific animal combat does not threaten animal societies the way intraspecific human conflict threatens human society,
  2. all animals experience the same pressures experienced by proto-humans, and yet show no sign of advancing in any similarly significant, evolutionary direction, and
  3. the threat of apocalyptic violence hasn’t diminished among humans, despite all our scientific advances.

Animal Combat vs. Human Violence

A properly mechanical theory should theoretically be able to isolate the transition to hominization to a single moment. The best candidate for this moment is the onset of recursive, object-based aggression (ROBA). In order to understand the nature of ROBA, it’s critical to differentiate animal and human combat.

In intraspecific, animal combat, i.e. dog-vs-dog or buck-vs-buck (not predation against other species nor against hapless young), the antagonists can accurately predict the opponent’s natural weapons since their own weapons are the same. During a standoff, when sizing each other up, the animals will have a shared moment of anticipation, during which they share a very basic vocabulary of signals. A cat’s hiss or raised fur carry the same, shared meaning for both antagonists. From here, either an antagonist forfeits, or it makes a move and causes a clash. Both situations set the hierarchy in the animal community.

Clashes almost always end in one side or the other forfeiting, and death rarely results, since the animal’s natural defenses are also designed for their natural weapons. Therefore, animal combat is optimized for determining the hierarchy without posing an existential threat to the species, and its optimization negates any need for changes to this system.

Animals do not use objects for aggression. The closest example, chimps, only use objects for hunting, foraging, and intimidation, often in complex and preemptive ways. Chimps will bring hammerstones to specific roots to crack nuts, exhibiting a level of critical thinking around tool usage that could theoretically give them an advantage if they only brought these tools into combat 1.

But we find that in chimp combat, objects are only used incidentally and without any foresight, and successful combat strategies using objects are never ritualized or copied by other members. Even novel intimidation strategies, like Goodall’s record of the chimp Figan who found he could appear more aggressive by loudly kicking cans, is not mimicked 2. Optimization means that there is no pressure to evolve animal combat to include objects.

Notice in this video how the chimp uses a stick as a weapon of intimidation, not combat. He drops it without giving it much thought, and no other chimp sees fit to mimic his technique.

Notice in this video how the use of objects again is only for intimidation. No serious attempts are made at grabbing the rock or a stick as a bludgeoning tool, and if one is used, its use is not repeated.

Corollary 1: Animal combat is optimized for producing hierarchy while minimizing risk of death.

Corollary 2: Shared anticipation creates the Merge environment which allows for signal validation.

Corollary 3: Animal Merge environments produce simple signals. (Note: It’s unknown whether all animal signals are generated from Merge.)

But in human combat, thanks to bipedalism and the freeing of the hand, we have the ability to use recursive, object-based aggression (ROBA) in which we can 1) use objects for aggression and 2) anticipate this same aggression in antagonists. Both human antagonists possess ROBA, forcing each antagonist to anticipate what the other’s weapon(s) will be. This produces a very different scenario.

Merge – The Shared Moment of Anticipation

Unlike in animal standoffs, humans have a much more difficult puzzle to solve: what is the opponent’s access to aggression? Is he carrying a stone behind his back? Will he grab a sharp stick if I disarm his club? Do his cousins have deadlier weapons for avenging him? Both antagonists engage in this prolonged anticipation that might last minutes, hours, days, or years in the cases of family feuds.

During this time, an antagonist might realize that the fight isn’t worthwhile and back down, or they might be incentivized to escalate the violence to ever higher levels to guarantee personal victory. This “escalation to extremes” 3 threatens to turn human combat into an apocalyptic scenario where one or both might die. Death through combat is a unique trait of humanity, and it demonstrates how we are fundamentally unoptimized for combat.

(One can see unoptimization in animals like the Irish elk whose females selected for males with abnormally large antlers, which pressured them to grow to 12 feet in diameter. This unoptimized adaptation was not checked, and the antlers grew so large that it might have contributed to the species’ own extinction. By contrast, human unoptimized combat (ROBA) is checked by Parse, which I detail below.)

The Catch Of The Day Is A 10,000-Year-Old Gigantic Deer

The difficulty in ascertaining the opponent’s weapon expands the duration of the shared moment of anticipation between human antagonists as they engage in war games, which can extend into the indefinite future. This is ROBA’s recursive (R) attribute. I call this shared moment of anticipation Merge. I’ve taken the term Merge from Chomsky’s linguistics, but in unoptimized (UO) logic Merge is a shared function between antagonists and is not a singular function in the brain as it is in Chomskyan linguistics.

Parse – The Alternative to ROBA

During Merge, new, non-violent signals like hand gestures or articulated grunts can be tried out and exchanged. The use of these non-violent signals in place of violence is called Parsing. If Merge confirms the shared meaning of these signs, then violence is deferred, or held off. If the meaning of a sign is not agreed upon, then other Parsing of signs might be attempted, but the duration of Merge naturally ticks away as the antagonists seek new signs. Merge allows the antagonists to defer or hold off violence while the antagonists attempt to Parse. This is crucial since human violence, being apocalyptic, can could mean death for both antagonists and perhaps those in the immediate surroundings. Merge must allow humans to Parse new signs into the scenario. When Merge confirms the signs’ shared meaning, hierarchy is established.

This is the general theory behind Eric Gans’ Originary Scene, but with this additional mechanical explanation for exactly how the first sign emerges.

Eric Gans’ Generative Anthropology is a major inspiration for the Art of Violence. See his Chronicles of Love and Resentment.

One antagonist might also forfeit in order to defer ROBA, but forfeiture is its own signal and its meaning must also be shared. There’s no guarantee that forfeiture will end the fight, as some antagonists will see it as the perfect opportunity to attack. Since forfeiting is also a sign, it is couched under Parse.

Those working in white collar industries or high cultural institutions like universities or monasteries will think I’m overreaching by claiming that all linguistic space and culture is generated from base human violence (ROBA). But by unoptimized (UO) logic, complex linguistic networks like these have utilized Parse often for generations or millennia, which distances them from ROBA over time. This does not negate the fact that they are based in ROBA. Parse has simply built up a robust empire around the active volcano of ROBA, which continues to brew underground. And so those inside complex institutions tend to believe that they have grown to be outside of ROBA, or perhaps evolved past it, when they’re just deeper in the Matrix. Contrast this attitude with those who deal with lawless violence on a regular basis, who treat what I’m saying as a tautology. The closer you are to ROBA, the more obvious it is that ROBA frames linguistic space and culture.

Animals also utilize Merge and Parse to size each other up, but it’s short-lived because the weapons and defenses are immediately known to the antagonists, cutting off the length of the time of anticipation and preventing the creation of a recursive grammar. Therefore, although animal Parse allows animals like chimps to learn simple signs, they do not give rise to a grammatical structure. The famous chimp Washoe was taught a series of hand signals from sign language but could not order them in a hierarchical way. 4

Unoptimized human combat and its deep, recursive Merge environment gives Parse the ability to expand the variety of shared signals. These signals can take on their own hierarchies, which establishes a grammar between the antagonists. To use Chomsky’s example, in the statement birds that fly instinctively swim, it’s unclear whether instinctively modifies fly or swim, since in English the adverb can modify the verb before or after it, so Merge would fail this sentence since the hearer won’t share the meaning of the signal. However, if rephrased as instinctively, birds that fly swim, it’s clear now that instinctively modifies swim. Hierarchy in grammar is therefore not based in the linear order of words but has deep, opaque structures due to the recursiveness of human Merge. Human Merge can also form hierarchies between entire statements, as in the sentence I thought she knew you planned to attend the event. The optimized combat loop of animals results in a limited Merge environment, which prevents deep, hierarchical Parsing, thereby preventing animals from attaining any grammatical proficiency.

Corollary 4: Recursive, object-based aggression is unique to humans and is unoptimized.

Corollary 5: ROBA creates an invinitely complex Merge environment which allows for deep Parsing, aka human, grammatical language.

Corollary 6: Parse defers ROBA.

What “Hominized” Us?

We can expand the definition of Merge to include inter-specific interactions, i.e. predation. Animals appear to understand the meaning of a snake’s head bobbing movement and will adjust their tactics accordingly. Dogs have some understanding of human body language as well as verbal commands. Different species therefore appear to share some limited set of signals. We see this particularly in domesticated animals as well as chimps.

Orthodox Darwinist theories tend to hold that the demands of communicating about the environment exerts adequate pressure on natural selection to evolve us toward human language. However, UO logic holds that predation does not create the necessary conditions to push a major evolutionary update since all animals share this same condition. The same is true of foraging. The best candidate for a condition which would push a need for an expanded lexicon is the emergence of recursive, object-based aggression (ROBA) due to the freed human hand.

This poses a challenge to the currently accepted theory of hominization, which rests on vague criteria such as complexity of tool usage, skull size, evidence of representational language like cave paintings, use of fire for cooking, etc. By contrast, UO logic places the minimum criterion of hominization at the onset of ROBA, evidence for which might be seen in the first stone tools.

Oldowan Tools – The First language

The consensus is that mankind’s first tools, known as Oldowan or Mode I tools, were created to fulfill some kind of utilitarian need such as chopping for sustenance or hunting animals. Such traditional theories on human evolution believe that hominization involves a branching away from violence to solve external, man-vs-environment problems.


Instead, if we picture two or more tribes vying for rights over an animal carcass, armed with rocks, we can see the scenario threatens to devolve into a bloodbath. Per UO logic, this Merge scenario required Parsing, forcing the combatants to hit the stones together and defer ROBA. Whether the hitting was done to produce sharp points to demonstrate lethality, to make a blunt core to demonstrate non-lethality, to generate threatening sounds, or to generate a percussive melody to lull both parties into a shared moment, the specific reasoning is beside the point: the purpose of Oldowan tools was not to solve an exterior problem, but rather to defer ROBA which is intrinsic to all human interactions. In essence, this industry is not merely evidence of presence of language; Oldowan tools are linguistic signs themselves.

As an action designer and stuntman, I naturally gravitate towards explaining things through the lens of conflict. These scenarios are naturally baser than sustenance-based explanations, but the simplicity of combat lends to its capacity to be the more originary driver of human, evolutionary development. Thus it lends to a more mechanical understanding of human violence. Otherwise, we are continually left in the dark with vague hypotheses as to how sustenance could force human evolution.

UO logic therefore holds that the minimum requirement for hominization is the capacity for ROBA, creating a deep Merge environment and incentivizing for the creation of grammatical, human language through Parsing.

Corollary 7: Presence of ROBA is the minimum criterion for “hominization.”

Merge Never Closes

Parse does not eliminate ROBA. As stated earlier, ROBA is intrinsic to all human relations and the Merge environment persists due to its recursive nature. Parse continues to be used to generate human hierarchies, which is always preferred over resort to ROBA. However, this means that there is no actual time of peace. Peace is merely the absence of direct conflict, but UO logic dictates that ROBA is always possible, and hence human language never disappears. Paradoxically, if we managed to eliminate ROBA from the human gene pool or installed a switch to turn off aggression 5, we would also collapse Merge and be reduced to animalistic signaling.

Parse Creates Technologies

Because Merge never closes, Parse must be continually used to defer ROBA. Terms need to be redefined whenever necessary, and if Merge confirms their shared meaning, then Parse succeeds and ROBA is deferred. Continued use of Parse has the effect of eliminating unnecessary words and structures from language, giving rise to condensed hypotheses and equations for innovations like stone tools, metallurgy, ballistics, and nuclear fission. These serve as shorthand signals that can be easily recalled in future uses of Parse and quickly defer ROBA.

Corollary 8: Parse encapsulates human language into compact theories which are more efficient in deferring ROBA.

Parse Allows for Human Aggression

Parse allows for the development of highly complex linguistic institutions like contracts, arts, sciences, and other hallmarks of civilization. Sometimes mere verbal or written language or the arts themselves are inadequate for deferring ROBA, so Parse might devise a linguistic structure like a sport or competitive combat scenario which simulates ROBA but can collapse it before it becomes apocalyptic. In UO logic, the scenario works like this:

  1. ROBA sets the Merge environment
  2. Merge allows Parse to create a linguistic framework for combat
  3. Simulated combat is a Virtual Merge environment which simulates ROBA
  4. Parse collapses Virtual Merge before ROBA can co-opt its aggression
  5. Merge remains open

Corollary 9: Controlled human aggression is a virtual Merge environment only available through Parse.

Parse Results in Self-Domestication

Continued use of Parse has a beneficial effect on phenotypes. We see neural crest cells (NCCs) impeded through domestication of animals, resulting in white tips, floppy ears, reduced tooth size, and other changes 6.

NCC migration is similarly impeded within humans through the generational use of Parsing, which gives rise to phenotypes that are useful for Parse such as white palms for gesturing, white sclera for eye direction detection (EDD), and possibly changes in the larynx to give rise to a greater variety of vocalizations. NCCs and their relationship to domestication are explored by Richard Wrangham in The Goodness Paradox, though from the opposite direction. More research is needed to determine how exactly this feedback loop operates in humans.

Corollary 10: Continued use of Parse domesticates humans which aids in future Parsing.

ROBA Co-opts Technologies

If Parse fails to set the hierarchy between human antagonists, then ROBA will use these same technologies to set the human hierarchy itself. ROBA effectively takes over the Merge scenario that it itself created. Merge is indifferent as to which means is used to set the hierarchy, and since ROBA is able to create its own signals which Merge will validate as shared or not, ROBA can then set the hierarchy. However, when ROBA is using Merge, it will create whatever signals it needs and modify the Merge as it needs. Disagreement over the meaning of a sign would normally leave human hierarchy in limbo and demand further Parsing, but ROBA shortcuts this process either by forcing a dissenting party to accept a new definition, or by simply eliminating dissent. In short, when ROBA co-opts technologies and dominates Merge, it gives the winner the right to determine the meaning of signals and establish the hierarchy.

Corollary 11: If Parse fails the Merge test, ROBA dominates Merge and human violence results.

Once ROBA co-opts Merge, there’s less incentive for either side to utilize Parse. ROBA itself becomes grammarized and creates its own language such as art, architecture, laws, vocabulary, and other general structures. ROBA-language might appear as backward as it moves the lexicon back closer to ROBA and if widely used could lend to more reliance on ROBA itself than Parse to set human hierarchies. This has a contagious effect and might eradicate long-standing, peaceful Parse structures which crumble under its might. Continued use of Parse must be utilized to move these baser ROBA structures into higher linguistic orders.

However, over-reliance on antiquated Parse institutions will not give one a novel tool against ROBA-language. For example, Latin became inadequate for parsing science from sorcery in the middle ages and contending with the gunpowder aggression kernel (see below), and German, French, Italian and English emerged as superior Parse structures.

Manufacturing Parse institutions from thin air to counter ROBA-language has also been met with failure. The push to universalize a synthetic language, as with Esperanto in response to World War I 7, failed since its proponents did not anticipate the fact that language is forged in the fires of ROBA, not in academic institutions insulated from it.

Reversing the Copernican Principle

As stated earlier, deep linguistic Parsing structures like universities and government institutions become so insulated from ROBA that over time its members forget that ROBA is at their very foundation. Instead, they adopt the ideology that higher cognitive evolution or enlightenment has allowed them to outdo ROBA. The extension of this thinking is that ROBA can be eliminated without risking their own institutions, and as a result Enlightenment-era theorists moralized at length over the correct and incorrect usage of violence. Hobbes advocated for state-controlled violence to keep the populace in check while Rousseau advocated for popular violence to keep the state in check. Such moralizing produced no science but rather inspired the use of ROBA against their adherents’ adversaries.

The insulation from ROBA is epitomized by the Copernican Principle which asserts that the best science can be found when we abandon our “privileged perspective” as humans and begin to see ourselves as merely parts of our environment. It received a booster shot with Darwin’s theory that humans propagate under the same laws as the rest of nature. Such theorizing emphasized man’s evolution in response to the environment and abandoned the study of man’s evolution in response to his own unoptimized combat, as such an idea might strike the orthodox Darwinist as heretical.

UO logic dictates our “privileged perspective” is founded in deep Merge which is unique to humans. Therefore, a privileged perspective must be taken as opposed to moralizing about violence, as the insulated theories have demonstrated they are incapable of converting people away from the ROBA margins and into higher orders of Parsing.

The ROBA-Parse Cycle – A Policy Recommendation

Government policy is best directed at moving members of society away from these marginal ROBA structures into deeper Parsing institutions. Institutions should abandon the Copernican Principle and adopt a simplified UO logic which shows that human violence (ROBA) is fundamentally different from animal aggression and that all human language is continuously framed by ROBA. It cannot maintain that human language evolves on a different track than violence. This idea has failed to stop violence on the margins because it cannot communite with those same margins, and insulated elites necessarily appear out of touch.

By adopting UO logic, institutions can reverse-engineer their own linguistic structures to derive their ROBA origins. This will give them better tools for communicating with those on the margins and convert them away from ROBA. Crass or low Parsing should be expected, but so long as the vector is away from ROBA, then this is progress.

Aggression Kernels and Action Codes

ROBA sets a new aggression kernel whenever it co-opts Parse in a significant way. The aggression kernel then assumes the framing for all human language. Each aggression kernel carries its own aesthetics, kinship systems, religious models, language types, and theories on its own violence. Here are 4 major ones:

  1. Stone – unwritten, totemic, revenge- and honor-based, “blood is blood.”
  2. Bronze – pictographic, matrilineal, statecraft begins.
  3. Iron – alphabetic, patrilineal, monotheistic, cautious of contagious violence, statecraft expanded.
  4. Gunpowder – printing press, corporal-lineal descent, universalistic doctrines, emergence of the scientific method and industrialization of government and labor.
  5. Atomic – mass media, a-lineal descent, nihilism and physics-based religions, hope of aliens, etc.

There are more kernels between these. Each aggression kernel has its own Action Code. The revenge code might be recalled during eras of crime waves (Death Wish). The cautionary action code might be recalled during political turmoil (Duellists). Atomic action codes might be seen in scifi films where we learn of our own violence from aliens (The Day the Earth Stood Still) or dread of an overseas nuclear power (Godzilla). A single time period can produce fictions utilizing any or all of the action codes, since no one code ever disappears. The technology for violence is still there and Merge is still open at all times.

By analyzing an aggression kernel, an action designer can give additional meaning to movement. The dread of nuclear war might weigh on the protagonist (Oppenheimer). Impatience for the state’s tolerance of street crime might elicit nihilism (Taxi Driver). The urge to seek revenge might push a protagonist to do the impossible (Kill Bill), or it might bring about their destruction (Blue Ruin). A film doesn’t need to be an action movie to utilize an action code. The action designer can frame all movement under a given aggression kernel.

Aggression kernels also have the effect of insulating older levels of violence. Under the framing of the iron aggression kernel, Chinese kung fu becomes highly ritualized and symbolic.

Under the framing of the gunpowder aggression kernel, fencing emerges as high art.

And under the atomic aggression kernel, tactical firearms schools have opened up all across America with their own systems, techniques, and aesthetics.

The Blood-Ritual Spectrum8

We can make a simple rubric of aesthetic forms that slowly diverge away from the raw violence of ROBA toward a highly-Parsed and insulated, ritualized form. For now we could simply call something like this the blood-ritual spectrum:

  1. Blood-wit (cultural revenge) – Headhunting, Flower Wars
  2. Duels (sanctioned killing) – Sword Duels, Gunslinging, Holmgang
  3. Bare-knuckle fighting (blood) – BKFC, Russian Boxing
  4. Free fighting (striking) – Muay Thai, UFC
  5. Padded fighting (restriction on blood) – Boxing, Taekwondo
  6. Contact Arts (restriction on striking) – Football, Sumo
  7. Non-Contact Sports (No striking) – Baseball, Arm Wrestling
  8. War dance (No contact) – Wushu, Capoeira, Gymnastics

The Future of Parse

In the future, ROBA might co-opt any number of complex linguistic structures, resulting in a new aggression kernel. AI-generated-AI, 3D printed guns, or a Uranium Rush could easily render the current Atomic Aggression Kernel inert and instantiate a new Merge environment with new parameters. Mass Media in its current form will not be adequate for Parsing, while new media structures will have to emerge to mitigate its effects. Media elites will kick and scream as these innovations render them jobless, but it’s critical that we don’t mimic their production models or rely on their algorithms. Whatever ROBA co-opts will also have the effect of giving us unprecedented access to new distribution channels, which will be easily grasped by outsiders. The Unoptimized Strategy (UOS) demands that Parse must be used so that ROBA doesn’t re-take control of the Merge environment.

  1. Gibson, Kathleen: Tools, Language and Cognition in Human Evolution, 1993 pp. 151-170
  2. Goodall, Jame: Through A Window, 1990 pp. 43-52
  3. Girard, Renee: Battling to the End, 2010
  4. Bickerton, Derek: Adam’s Tongue, 2009 pp. 75-78
  5. Delgado, Jose: Physical Control of the Mind, 1969
  7. Gaerard, Albert Leon: A Short History of the International Language Movement
  8. Updated 12/01/2023