Symbols are a powerful influence in our lives. We attach all sorts of significance to all sorts of things. Dates, animals, places, numbers, food, gestures, rituals… The list is endless. It has been said that the use (and misuse) of symbols is what defines us from the rest of the the animal realm.
Symbols carry meaning for us. Part of the reason that they are so powerful is that symbols can bypass our critical judgement. We see (or hear) the symbol and accept the meaning without having to appraise it’s relevance to us personally, or to weigh the value of the meaning implied by the symbol. The red light on a traffic signal means ‘stop’, we all know this without question (whether we act on it or not is another matter); a flag at half-mast, an eighteenth birthday, a fire alarm….
Symbols and symbolic acts carry layers of meaning and reference. It’s impossible to fully plumb all the inferences, nor should we. Symbols exist as a kind of shorthand to save us the trouble of constant analysis and interpretation.
Another factor in the efficacy of symbols is that we don’t have to accept or believe in them to be affected by them. We have just passed through the most symbol-laden moments in the year and – albeit that many of them have commercial undertones – whatever our faith or inclinations, those symbols will have affected us.
Happy New Year.
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September 20th, 2018
Even though we don’t realise it when we say we know what someone thinks about something, we are guessing. Even mind-reading – in a fairground or on stage – is trickery.
Yet we often allow our own thoughts and behaviour to be goverened by what we claim someone else will think. Maybe it’s time to review what we ‘know’.Continue reading
September 18th, 2018
Getting things done is not half as satisfying as doing things well. This is because we get personal satisfaction from giving something all our attention, doing it to the best of our abilities, being absorbed in it while we are doing it, and looking back with pride at a job well done.
“Enough time” has nothing to do with it, as you’ll see.
September 16th, 2018
It seems that the establishment is at last taking mental health seriously.Continue reading