Sunday, 4 March 2018

Symbolism and minimalism

Minimalism and symbolism are two intertwined topics.  Although minimalism can mean different things to different people, it can generally be defined as an ability to shed the ideas or qualities we associate with objects or tradition; it is an attempt to see things for what they are.  As in my favourite example, a dress is never more than a dress; it is not confidence or a new start.  It is merely a symbol.

Symbols exist because of associations that we have been taught.  And they grossly simplify beautifully complex concepts that we'd benefit from understanding.  Symbols, though not always bad, can mislead and distract.


Every advert that suggests you lack something in order to sell their product (so every advert) undermines the relationship you have with yourself.  It suggests that you aren't complete on your own.  Some adverts even go as low as to claim that you should make purchases to symbolise your independence...

A new year is a symbol of a new start.  And this can set us up for failure because it undermines the work you have to put into improving yourself.

Marriage is a symbol of a committed, loving relationship.  One can exist without the other and viewing the two as synonymous means undervaluing the work that goes into a relationship and the work that each individual has to put into themselves.

We can go one step further and consider superstitions: lucky underpants and broken mirrors.  These beliefs are a lot less commonly held but are as just as based on logic as the examples previously listed.  To some, breaking a mirror is a symbol of seven years of bad luck.  To others, buying a new pair of shoes is a symbol of a new start in your life.


I don't mean to suggest that symbolism is inherently bad, but I do think it's important to see symbols for what they are.  You may have something that is a symbol of how much you are loved or another that is a symbol of how far you've come on your personal journey.  Symbols aren't bad but they are not the same as that which we associate with them.  To think the two the same is to overlook something very important or devalue something beautiful.

Carmen x
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