• Posted: Aug 01, 2010 15:08:55
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How we know things is an interesting question. For instance, where we are, what time of year it is, what time of day it is, etc., etc.? We say, "we read the signs."
Some of those "signs" are naturally occurring, like sunshine and darkness corresponding to daytime and nighttime. But other signs are culturally generated. A flag and a barbed wire fence, perhaps. We learn to read those signs also. And if we don't, we could get shot or put in jail. Laws, in fact, are a codified system of signs. Entire strata of our society have as their primary occupation the creation, dissemination, and implementation of law and rule related signs. And once again, if we don't learn and follow those signs, we could get shot or wind up in jail, or lose job, customers, or privilege.
If we ask, what is community? One answer is that a community is a group of people who both understand and make use of a common set of signs. Outsiders are easily recognized by insiders for their failure to recognize and observe community signs. Divisions within a community take hold when a different set of signs begins to gain currency with only some members of the community. Or, when certain commonly recognized signs begin to mean different things to different factions within the community. For instance, right now within American politics the meaning of the U.S. Constitution is being debated on many fronts for a variety of purposes. As a sign, it was originally meant to bring us together as one people. But factions within our population have once again begun telling us that it doesn't mean what most of us have always thought it did. Some now think that view may be correct, others don't believe it is. A division is occurring. A similar kind of societal division has occurred over the meaning of cigarettes. One faction thinks cigarettes are "cool". The other thinks they are definitely not.
Within the image above, the signs of summer are apparent. But there are other signs being employed too, signs of wealth and privilege, signs of leisure and nostalgia, very definite symbols of exclusion, but also signs of humor, warmth, family, and reverence for the fleeting preciousness of time.
Depending upon how you read all those signs being displayed, you may find amusement or you may find reason for outrage and resentment, especially if you consider the date and place the image was made and its cultural context. At the time, the U.S. auto industry and Wall Street banks were being bailed out by the rest of us while those who drove the auto industry and much of the economy into the ground were once again enjoying summer vacations in completely paid for second homes like this one.
May your reading of the signs keep you safe, well informed, and inspired toward fulfilling goodness.
Sunday, July 12th, 2009
18.7 mm 89 mm