So Tell Me ... What's The Weather Like on YOUR Planet?

30 January, 2007

Image and Reality

Back to mirrors, I think I am.

I've been chewing on, lately, the difference between the token of the thing and the thing, symbol and substance, image and reality. Which is an interesting angle to come from, since I do have a theology that has effective identity between the name of a thing and a thing -- the act of naming a thing is an act of making it real, but at the same time, the name is a symbol for the thing, and these two forms of processing reality do not always coexist happily.

I look at various things and say, "If only I had this thing settled, I'd be confident". Or comfortable, or secure, or ...

The thing is, I'm suspecting I'm deluding myself. So long as I externalise the thing into the token, I'll always be looking for another token.

But at the same time, wanting that touch, that symbol, that ritualisation, that establishing of reality, is something that matters -- even if it's no real substitute for a genuine stability. And the stability needs the tokens, needs the manifestations, needs the bau, the appearances, because if it doesn't have them, it's not terribly real, but at the same time ... augh.

This doesn't make it any easier to resolve the question. It shouldn't depend on the tokens, but at the same time if the tokens aren't there, it's not terribly real ...

If I go off on a less personal and solipsistic tangent, I think this is one of those big issues out in the universe, that tokens-for-reality thing. It feeds into consumerism, for one -- instead of being confident in ourselves, our attractiveness, our lives, whatever, people are supposed to buy the current quick fix, and substitute that for being real, up until the point that it's out of fashion or runs out, and then it's off to get the new stylish handbag or magic face cream or whatever.

Or standard romantic notions, the whole "the dream engagement, the dream wedding, all of that will make the relationship real and there will be happy-ever-after". Because the reality of it is that the relationship takes work and establishing and working out the bugs, and sometimes it's hard, and sometimes it's something one only sticks to because of sheer bloody-mindedness and the hope that it'll get better, and sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn't, but the ring and veil aren't part of what actually makes it work. Even if the ritualisation is naming it and making it real.

Or people who look for a new partner -- or a new baby -- to fix whatever ails them. Or who look to find perfect self-fulfilment in their jobs. Or ... much of anything. It's gotta be inside, before it can be found outside. The token can't substitute for being a whole person.

And the token can be a way of becoming whole.

Symbology is complicated.

    To thou who thinkest to seek Me, know that thy seeking and
    yearning shall avail thee not unless thou knowest the Mystery.
    If that which thou seekest thou findest not within thee,
    thou wilt never find it without.

    For behold, I have been with thee from the beginning; and
    I am that which is attained at the end of desire.

-- from 'The Charge of the Goddess', Doreen Valiente or near adapted from same, lots of minor variants on Google

1 comment:

Vieva said...

I'm reminded (of all things) of Dr. Phil. His advice is frequently "fake it until you make it.".

Which doesn't mean to ignore the problems, but does mean that if the token gives you stability, use it. And then BE stable.

The token can be a crutch, but it can also be a touchstone. A "look, I have succeeded, and here is my proof. Look at me. I am mighty."

Perception isn't everything, but it's certainly a lot!