A strange thought struck me today as I picked up a chocolate with so many symbols, adjectives and brand differentiators on it the chocolate seemed almost peripheral to the offering - perhaps the shift in human consciousness that so many predict is upon us (Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth, for example) is being mirrored in the evolution of symbols yet again. Where once letters and alphabets arose to document sounds and words, now symbols that represent entire systems of thought combine to form a language of a higher level. A crucifix carries with it the whole history of Christianity. A swastika invokes an ideology and an emotional reaction. Fairtrade logos and carbon footprint logos and halaal-approved logos each invoke a complex history and philosophy. Where letters once combined to form simple words, now the combinations of brands, logos and symbols form complex patterns and combinations of ideologies, histories and value. To cut through the information overload of our age, we are beginning to communicate in a symbolic language of a higher order. It may mean the birth of collective consciousness and the beginning of the prophesised golden age - and it also means we won't need to worry so much about our spelling.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
The Evolution of Symbols
Allegedly the birth of human consciousness corresponds roughly to our ability to use symbols and metaphors. The oldest art in the world, which, let's blow our trumpet a little, was found in a cave in South Africa, signifies our move from unconscious or subconscious animals to thinking beings. Abstract thought was documented and reified in abstract symbolism. This evolved into cave paintings of animals, alphabets and religious symbols.