4. Reactivity and aggression: the A Angles sign

The first form of egoism identified by Moretti is represented by that instinctive tendency of sentiment of being able to grasp – to a greater or lesser degree – the intrusions and attacks from the outside. The A Angles sign is therefore aimed at measuring the level of sensitivity characterising each personality in perceiving invasion movements, which is then followed by a reaction aimed at repelling them. It is important to specify that the defensive system is not activated only when there are material attacks, because anything seen as a critical observation about our work, particularly if unjust, triggers a defensive response in the personality, which, in this way, protects itself and its integrity.

This particular form of care of the Self is called resentment, which if implemented as a preventative against the slightest criticism levelled at us «can certainly lead to a certain amount of moral disease». (19) But «in itself it indicates a delicacy of soul which is made sensitive about its own defects through the observations of others. Being sensitive is both providential and indicates interest in one’s own human dignity». (20)

As regards the intensity of the emotional response put into play, there is a component that lies outside the A Angle, given by the fact that the closer the aspect of Self which is under attack is to the inner core, the greater the resentment felt. On this point, Moretti writes: «There is no human being who does not have special affection for something; and throwing censure and discredit on that special thing is the same as pushing him towards resentment». (21) While what is evaluated in this case is just the system’s tendency to react systematically when faced even with slight external stress, so that the Self immediately registers the offense and responds to it. Measuring the intensity of the response, understood as a decontextualised personality trait, belongs to the A Angle sign.

Given that this is an indicator of psychic reactivity, on the graphic level the same movement is sought by checking the degree of deviation of the curved aspect towards the angle. More specifically, in order to quantify the tendency to resentment more accurately, among all the letters that have a circular course, the «a» has been chosen for a particular reason: starting from the fact that when the hand executes the internal upstroke it must, at the same time, prepare to trace the final leg, Moretti observes that in doing this «it pins or rests at the lower vertex before climbing. Now, if that rest forms a kind of angle … you get the graphological sign indicating the tendency towards resentment». (22)

Fig. 8 – The A Angle sign: the actor Charlie Chaplin

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In other words, «A Angles are found principally at the foot of the lower case a (or the upper case a when executed in the same way as the lower case) to the left of the reader». (23) They «represent the graphological sign of resentment of touchiness» (24) and «psychologically the come to indicate the means to defend the Self from aggression by driving them to react». (25) The tendency is instinctive, therefore it is implemented automatically each time the personality, stimulated by a relation movement, focuses on itself: while the Curved sign is instinctively driven to adapt, the A Angle drives the individual to become aware of her diversity, the discrepancy between what others say about her and what she feels she is and has to bring to light. It is for this reason that the concept of resentment also contains an active component linked to competition, on going beyond, without having to consider the effort required or the degree of difficulty expected to reach a particular goal.

Within this interpretative framework what makes the difference is the intensity of the tendency towards resentment, because if the reactivity of the system exceeds a certain threshold even the slightest tinge of disagreement will be interpreted as an affront to the personality’s integrity; in this the case the meaning of the sign changes from «active intangibility of the Self» (26) to «assault against those who attempt to disparage». (27)

To determine where the limit lies beyond which the personality undoubtedly exceeds, it is necessary to have adequate measurement criteria. The first is based on observing whether the angle is sharp or blunt: «If it is blunt it is certainly under 5/10 and simply indicates unpronounced legitimate resentment». (28)

Fig. 9 – Writing with A Angles under 5/10 because they are blunted

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«If the angle is blunted but in such a way that it tends more towards sharp than blunt, then the level is around 5/10 and indicates legitimate resentment with the danger of overstepping that boundary». (29)

Fig. 10 – Writing with A Angles over 5/10 since they tend towards pointedness

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If, however, the angle is pointed, it leads directly to excessive resentment. A more precise quantification involves measuring the breadth of the angle, following the general principle according to which the narrower the angle is, the greater the drive towards a unilateral and aggressive defence. For example, an angle of 45° brings the pointed angle to 7/10; while a pointed angle of 15° brings the value of the A Angles to 9/10.

Fig. 11 – Writing with 7/10 A Angles

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The tendency also responds to the concept of frequency since the angle may occur intermittently and with varying intensity, or as a fixed mode that is always executed in the same way. So, rather than apply the statistical average, it is better to observe the spontaneous graphic movement and take its variability and uniformity into account, because it is this that corresponds to the real psychic movement.

Moreover, we should remember that although it is an entirely instinctive reaction, and therefore is not subject to possible manipulation by other parts of the Self, its manifestation on the exterior plane does not occur in the same way for everyone: the impulsive reacts directly by attacking the assailant, while the more delicate or timid personality may react by becoming red in the face, testifying to the emotional shock suffered; or else resentment can take the form of offended authority, hypercritical sophistry, or letting off steam by gossiping about the person who has dared to criticise.

In short, the tendency to resentment presupposes a disposition of the personality to stop and rise up in order to defend itself against aggression: «The assaulted Self takes offence and cannot help but take offense even if the assault is legitimate. And in resentment it reacts. This is the first form of egoism». (30) The more sudden the arrest and the rise, the more acute the angle becomes and the stronger the reaction, in the most marked levels reaching direct forms of aggression with the aim of eliminating the «enemy», because each conflict is seen as an attack from the outside which then triggers the inevitability of the defensive reaction. In particular, if the sign reaches 7/10, applicable in the case where the sharp angles are 45° (as specified in detail by Moretti in his Trattato), it indicates individuals who possess «sentiment which is always waiting to rebel against observations and criticisms from others whether made directly or indirectly against the individual who is not content to quarrel with those who make the observation or criticism, but immediately devises, architects and improvises some kind of revenge or vengeance». (31)

In this way, thanks to a precise identification of what we mean by resentment, and its meticulous measurement, Moretti manages to interpret the enormous qualities and equally numerous defects linked to the tendency to react to the observations of others about the individual’s work into one single sign. The qualities emphasise the fact that we are dealing with an active personality, one that feels the need to play on its abilities in the world in a practical and conclusive way, but when the sign exceeds 5/10 dynamism is transformed into continuous internal irritability, a continuous comparison between itself and others with the aim of finding the way to highlight themselves, to such an extent that «the Self leaves no stone unturned in order to prevail and to set others aside not only in that required by altruism, but even in that demanded by simple justice». (32)

The Morettian concept of egoism, based as it is on the personality’s ability to develop its uniqueness and keep it distinct from any other, in addition to the reactive component given by the A Angles that make the Self alert in the here and now against any possible contamination from the outside, also envisages a component associated with tenacity, able to keep attachment to inner feeling stable over time. This is the playing field for B Angles which we will examine now.