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Symbols - Used, Misused, or Misapprpriated?

by mugaliens
Tags: misapprpriated, misused, symbols
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Oct6-10, 11:43 AM
P: 595
"Kenneth Burke described Homo sapiens as a "symbol-using, symbol making, and symbol misusing animal." - Source

Jung long separated symbols from signs, with a sign being a known representation of something, such as a stop sign or a town's name and population upon entry, and a symbol standing for something less concrete, such as a coat of arms, or even mystical, as in the square and compasses used by Freemasons.

From what I understand, most of these types of symbols were created by those who use them, although admittedly out of other symbols. How many lions are represented on various coats of arms?

What about misappropriated symbols? Two come to mind: The rainbow for the GLBT community, and various colors used by gangs. What happens, for example, when sixteen rival gangs are in town, and have (mis)appropriated white, black, red, green, blue, yellow, brown, crimson, purple, torquois, * aqua, sky blue, jonquil, indigo, clear, and chartreuse? What in the world will our children wear to school, then? Gray?

I say it's high time we reappropriate the misappropriated symbols, particularly "gang colors." They don't own the colors! A color in and of itself is not a symbol, and it certainly isn't a sign. If gangs want their own symbols, they're going to have to get a *bit* more creative and design their own, even if it's just a cursive letter "L" like Laverne Dafazio wore on her pink jacket.

No, way - that's too easy, as letters aren't symbols, either. Heck - if gangs want symbols, they're going to have to work at it, and design their own coat of arms, or at least, their own logo.

The question is, can they do that? If so, why haven't they? I mean, seriously - the Girl Scouts designed their own logo 98 years ago, in 1912. Why can't a gang find someone creative in their midst and have him/her design a logo for the gang?

Realistically, this is already being done in the form of various tats (tatoos). If that's the way they want to go, I say "fine" and would ask them to officially and formally retire the "gang colors" nonsense so that our children can go back to being kids in school instead of being suspended for three days because they wore the "wrong" color shirt to school.

Now that I've brought the subject home to most of us, here's the subject: Why is it that most humans are symbolic in nature? Is it an outward extension of an inner part of our brain shared with the many animals out there who exhibit various patterns of recognition displayed on themselves or in their movements, the patterns of which are used for both identification/association of species as well as mating rituals?
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Oct6-10, 12:09 PM
P: 326
Gang members can't be artistic, so they must wear bold colors so that they're easier to fire at, because they aren't very accurate marksmen either.

It's pretty surprising that 'bringing the subject home to most of us' involves discussing the dregs of humanity. Am I to assume that the majority of PF'ers live in poor, multicultural neighborhoods now? Or should I go with my initial belief that your introduction to your main question isn't all that relevant to the question itself.

As for your question...

Symbols are a direct mapping between a concept/idea, or set of them, and an experienced thing, i.e. the symbol itself. The swastika is a beautiful representation of the sun, for instance. What else are you really asking for the answer to, other than this?

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