SYMBOLIC: ADVENTURES IN TEXT
« 107: Re con text |
| 109: The Tyranny of Projects »
December 20, 2004
108: The Tongue of One
I've been working on a short story this last week or so, building something from a single frame of art. The basic premise was to write something based on an illustration, approaching the typical illustrator/writer relationship from the opposite direction. While the illustrator usually come to the work post-creation and leverage their eyes on the work, I started from the other side: looking at the illustration first. We (the artist and I) didn't talk about the piece; he just sent me the link to it and let it stand or fall on its own merits. And, moreso with art than with the written word (where it is easier to spell out your symbolism and meanings), what I bring to this piece is colored by my symbolism, by the context of my illuminated world. Though, not surprisingly, there are some tropes that we both agree on and it's interesting to realize how little was needed on the part of the artist to push me into a specific head space, how few brush strokes were required to symbolize the requisite time and space.
Is language then a more compulsively exacting tool than art? What did we gain by adopting language and forgoing communication through pictures? Admittedly it would only take a few sentences to "sketch" the same frame of art. [Though as I write that previous sentence and waffle between using "few sentences" and "few paragraphs," I realize the difference is a matter of the writer relying on the symbolic weight of his words -- how much does the audience bring to the party?] But, if the artist and I didn't speak the same language, we would still be able to communicate through his picture while my words would simply be a string of letters on the page. Have we evolved by adopting language?
Language becomes more specialized, more "colloquial," with each passing generation. Our parents argue they don't understand us, and even us decrepit nearly 40-somethings can barely understand the generation nipping at our heels. As each generation adapts language to its own needs, is this an "evolution" of communication or a compartmentalization of discourse? We speak in coded phraseology -- "hip" tongues -- that isolate our groups from the remainder of society. We do it to be special, to be "in." These are the ritual phrases of future secret societies. As each social microcosm adapts more and more obtuse terminology, they shrink, becoming more and more exclusive. The curse of Babel has not yet been realized, but it is coming. Some day we will all have the tongue of one and we will be reduced to using the picture menu at McDonald's in order to survive.
Posted by Teppo at December 20, 2004 07:58 AM