Friday, September 29, 2006

Symbolism Is Hard But Important

"Education that consists in learning things and not the meaning of them is feeding upon the husks and not the corn." - Mark Twain

Symbolism is the systematic or creative use of arbitrary symbols as abstracted representations of concepts or objects and the distinct relationships in between, as they define both context and the narrower definition of terms. That definition alone can make you want to look for the closest exit. Symbolism is difficult because it forces people to stay away from the literal and focus on the abstract. That is not an easy task when you consider that the literal is right there, it is easy. The abstract however requires you to delve deeper and infer meanings that are based around ideas and less on fact. Trees, Lakes, and Light carry such symbolic meanings but often the response of a literal mind is that the literary work is “It just talking about trees.” It is too much for people to make that leap that symbolically the author is talking about growth, family, and/or health.

So now that I have told you about why symbolism is hard let me explain why it is important. The Mark Twain quote explains the idea of learning symbolism well and just learning in general. Understanding things literally is just “feeding upon the husks”, it is purely surface. To learn things and not simply know the meaning is the goal of being an educated person. It is the difference between knowing how to operate something and knowing how that thing works. Symbolism is so important in realizing that concepts and objects are often there to serve in creating an emotional response. Symbolism helps us realize that the author is often talking about a greater context in contemporary politics and society.


At 1:18 AM , Anonymous Daniel Landeros said...

Dude thats deep as I don't know what. You're like a young Confucius with a cooler style. I heart you big time. Oh yeah Mark Twain is weak i could beat him up with my hands behind my back. Stay up. SF to the VV!


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