Friday, October 7, 2011

Cultural Icons: article shared by a friend

UPDATE: How timely! This just in from the BBC! They tweet: "Christ and Che among top 11 icons." See below.

A FB friend posted this article about "icons" and I thought I'd share. This is not about religious icon, as in iconography, per se, but about how we view cultural icons. However, I think some of the fundamental ideas apply.

Desire for what we do not have distinguishes the icon as a way of seeing. Beholding an icon without the desire that animates the devotee’s experience results in seeing a stereotype or a truism. Other people’s icons are just that to us, as alien as other people’s religions. If you don’t want what the icon offers, you see a cliché, not the truth. Your icon, by contrast, captures the essence of someone or something that you want. The aura of that elusive reality may be called spiritual, that is, the evocation of the Real. This truth is not discerned as the validity of a proposition, but is experienced as a sensation—the feeling of seeing the real thing. Radiated by an icon, aura is the sensation of the revelation of the authentic. Spirituality and desire are inseparable. “That’s it!” or “That’s her!” people say when they see an icon, and in the recognition wonder if they might have glimpsed her—the real her.

I am working on an "icon" right now. If I can get it to look the way I want, "evoke enough of the Real," I may have the courage to post it here. Stay tuned.

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