In all of my classes this semester we have been talking about symbols. In Cross-Cultural Human Development, it has recently been in the context of language learning, and the connection between language, cognition and emotion. In Human Sexuality, we have been talking about how sexual culture can be studied through looking at a people’s myths and dreams. As I was looking through my photos, I realized how much symbolic content there is stored on my laptop that we could fruitfully consider. So here are a few photos from a trip my husband and I took to New York. I will leave it to you to interpret the symbolic statements being made. . . with perhaps a nudge here and there.
One of our first stops was St. John the Divine – one of, if not THE best example of gothic architecture in the United States. So plenty of multivocalic symbols to explore:
Since at least the 1970s, St. John the Divine’s has made itself a place of refuge for the homeless and of memorial for those who perished in acts of genocide. The lost are represented symbolically. Here are two:
Leaving St. John’s (even though there is SO much more there to see), it seemed interesting to us that one still signs all over the city like this:
I mean everywhere: subways, restaurants, bathrooms, city streets, parks, hotels, buildings. Since people are being constantly reminded to be on the alert, and thus constantly reminded, symbolically, of the attacks, doesn’t this contribute to the heightened anxiety and fear that surveys demonstrate New Yorkers feel, over other parts of the country? I am not all wishing to downplay the effect of the location of Ground Zero itself, but I do think these contant reminders probably also play a role. What do you think?
Never fear – Spidey is on the job. Unfortunately, it took him nearly 10 minutes to get his hat on just the way he wanted it, but hey, a good fit is important, right?
Finally, what do you suppose we, or Madison Avenue, or New York City, or the makers of Cup O’Noodles, is saying here? What effort does it require, how much energy, to make a giant cup appear to steam on a 65 degree night? And why is that important?