Symbolic Weaponry: The Book Gun

© 2010 Robert The

© 2010 Robert The

There is something about this image that seems inexplicably apropos. Loaded knowledge, here as language, can be weaponized and used forcefully in its original form.  However, when turned into a metametaphor, what happens to the message?  Something that is meant to offer a truth of some kind, a reflection on how to live in the world, can be dangerous in the hands of those who do not know how to use it.  An artistic interpretation, rendering a text into multiple reflections like two mirrors set face to face before each other, can then open an illusory hallway of alternative perspectives that may reveal hidden qualities worth seeing heuristically–thought experiments.  Distortions can be enlightening as much as they can be grotesque; it is art’s job to play with our senses, what we construct worlds with and for.  We can learn something about ourselves, our presuppositions, by having to face the fancies, dreams, and representations of others, and the more juxtapositions, contradictions, cognitive dissonance there is, the more likely we are to discover something, to form new connections.  What is art if not an liberated expression of deep, subconscious currents–fears, joys, loves, disillusionments, palpable but amorphous beliefs–that have no other voice than bodied symbols, those brief encounters with monsters and spirits–apparitions–who inhabit the wild landscape of the world we wander and dwell in: our minds?  What tool, technology, construct is not as likely to be harnessed for its goodness as for its potential violence?  There is danger in ambiguity.  That is why we enjoy it–for the play, like slack in a rope; you need enough play to jump over it.  The way such materialized knowledge is used speaks more of the user than the object; this we often forget or consciously ignore.  Once freed from the maker, the thing made becomes a looking glass.  It shows us something of ourselves.  Perhaps that is why artists offer their buildings to us when they are done with them.  They let us become the meaning makers by forcing us to work through our own reactions.  Projecting the shadows of self and the other out into the world makes them, perhaps, less monsterous if we can accept that they are merely (awefully?) children of mind; as their authors, we should love our creations for being ours, even when they are rebellious.  At least are free to rebel against ourselves, to question.  That is why we need artists; they dare to challenge us when we get too lazy, too habituated in our systems of value to grow, to change, to evolve.

“We often refuse to accept an idea merely because the tone of voice in which it has been expressed is unsympathetic to us.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche

About thepoetsglass

Professor, poet, philosophical dilettante, plus some other impressively heady alliterations. Instructional designer and copywriter. Cognitive neuroscientist by night. Self-diagnosed coffee addict, sometime dancer, brooding bibliophile, and an always salty sailor.
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