Requisite disclaimer: The following is not an endorsement of Sarah Palin's views, merely a cultural deconstruction of the semaphoric qualities of the title of her new book.
Because nothing that Sarah Palin does is by accident -- or put less freightedly -- because everything she does is strategic and plotted -- the title (and subtitle) of her new book are worthy of some social and linguistic analysis.
1. America By Heart celebrates the source of all natural goodness, the heart of the matter. It proclaims the value of pure, unabashed, gooey emotion. It disdains the perseverations of logic and proudly shouts that its author is unburdened by the woolly, weak and untrustworthy intellectualizing of those who've lost their ability to feel a connection with the country. As in, yes, President Obama. She's setting up 2012 as a battle between id and superego. She may not contain multitudes, but she's Whitman's barbaric yawp.
2. America By Heart creates a implicit foil: America By Mind. Elitists believe they can think their way to understanding America, and by extension to solving its problems. But real Americans know that they need to feel their way there. It's a derivation of George Bush's "from the gut" articulation of his criteria for belief and action, which led to Colbert's coinage of "truthiness" as an expression of the kind of truth which is intuitively known.
3. America By Heart promises that its readers will confront a voice that is bold and unedited -- speaking directly from the bloody chamber -- a persona totally consistent with Governor Palin's gutsy"going rogue" behavior during the presidential campaign, and her unedited, unmediated Twitter conversations with her followers. The Heart cannot be stopped.
4. America By Heart triggers the lyrical resonance of the phrase "by heart." When we learn something by heart we've made it a part of us, deep and true and abiding. It's a throw-back syntax to childhood memorization, and the Pledge of Allegiance. It would unlock a buzzing nest of neural circuits in the Implicit Association Test.
5. "Family, Faith and Flag" are three impossibly loaded, alliterative words. And of course, they follow the ancient "rule of three" for added emotional thrust. Each word is deeply symbolic, and taken together they both replay and re-cast the Culture Wars. The "F" also anticipates "freedom" and "fighting" -- other seminal words in the Palexicon.
6. To neutralize those who question her thoughtfulness and ability to ponder the world's weighty subjects, she's clever enough to begin the subhead with the word "Reflections."
Millions more people will see and hear about the title than read the book. The associations and imagery of the title will be processed on an unconscious level and add to the constellation of brain cells that hold the coordinates of the Palin brand. When it comes to her followers, she knows them by heart.
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