Thread: Symbolism!!!
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Old 11-02-2017, 07:26 PM
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bluewpc (Offline)
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I think people use symbolism whether they realize it or not and I dont believe thats limited to art. Its a rare individual that doesnt have a goal in life and the means whereby the goal is achieved often becomes a signifier of the goal.

If you wanted to build a house you would acquire knowledge about foundations and masonry and plumbing and electrical work but besides the practical acquisition of the skill sets they could be understood as heralds of the desire. Now thats pretty specific to the individual and theres more general or say more cultural symbols that could be employed.

Take the Tom Hanks character in Saving Private Ryan. Im going to spoil it now so quit reading if you havent seen it. So in the final battle this Captain who is tasked with saving the eponymous Private Ryan is shot through the hand. Now a pierced hand announces a christological figure and this is seen through in the Captain's sacrifice of his life to save Ryan.

Was it the intention of the director to include that? Its debatable. But symbolism need not be conscious. How many times have you seen a film tack on Genesis or Revelation to its title or how many Lazarus projects or serums or viruses have there been in video games? And those would be vacuous signifiers because without an understanding of that which is referenced the reference ends in a void.

Personally I employ symbolism probably more than I like. Terrence Malick talking about The Thin Red Line (I cant find the article but Ill hunt it down) said that he didnt want to include symbolism in the film, he wanted the images to possess the immediacy of reality or something to that effect. And the idea was if you erect a symbol then you are clearly communicating a certain idea but if there is no symbolism then the meaning is more open, more fundamental.

If youre obsessed with a theme or an idea then more often than not youll go and read what others have written about it. Ive always been obsessed with hell and the wonderful (and isnt that weird line to write) thing about that is that hell is infinite. Now some will argue thats not true because it would put hell on parity to heaven but leave that aside for the second but the infinite can accommodate infinitely and so you can monster up whatever you want and perverse it and make it a referent. Make it its own symbol. Of course anything can become a symbol because symbols are only the repetition of an image.

McCarthy wrote that truth was the direct apprehension of reality unmediated by symbol and for a long time I pondered this. It seems an easy thing to say but the question in me was well symbols are not abolished under this system. How can you understand mathematics without the language? The word always being at a remove from the object. One of the intrinisic claims in this line is that meaning is antecednet to language and so independent of language and then one day I remembered the Gnostic idea of the saved savior and it hit me that since everything is a manifestation of the infinite then by the virtue of mere existence everything also refers back to its genesis, that infinite wellspring of creation of which it is part, so that the signified and the signifer coexist in the same being. Spiegel Im Spiegel.

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