Symbols, icons and signs

Symbols, icons and signs are rather like etiquette and new foods – they require exposure, sampling and education.  All that takes time (and often money). And the results vary with each individual depending of course upon the breadth of experience. A summary of the symbols, icons and signs which now dwell in my mind is a collection of traits of materiality (primarily) and immateriality (things like spiritual or mystical indicators) which largely through repetition have become trusted bulwarks and sources of pleasure or inspiration. Characteristically of any development my preferred symbols, icons and signs have narrowed and been refined over time. An examination of those images is a study not merely of representation but of paragons, an elevation to shining examples.

Though the possessory nature of humanity predicts that most often the symbols, icons and signs embraced by an individual are those which the person owns, the choice still admits to mere introduction and even whimsy or hopeful aspiration. Considering that many of these attributes are nurtured from a very young age it is not uncommon that it is only later in life that  implementation occurs, captured in such exclamations as, “All my life I’ve wanted one of these!

The choice of any particular icon oddly does not depend only upon its intrinsic qualities.  Some icons for example are notorious for their technical achievement yet the same thing may to others be more important for its associated social distinction or class (or group) affinity. Naturally marketing by the manufacturer has a bearing upon that perception, sometimes to the discredit of the object in the eyes of the consumer. Other products, even if touted to provide superior quality, can turn out to be a misleading sale’s pitch after close scrutiny.  Once however one settles upon a particular product, its symbol can be everlasting (at least that is until the technology or production is overtaken by a competitor).

There are levels of discrimination among many similar symbols, normally representing a corresponding variation of purity and expense.  Again the particular choice of different individuals depends neither upon purity nor expense but sometimes upon other considerations such as utility and even modesty. The distinction becomes blurred when the options are authentic or synthetic (natural versus manmade) but even then the assessment of the attraction can depend solely upon comparative appearance only.

The spiritual symbols tend to the artistic, often captured in paintings, photography or suggestive ornaments. Because of their generic appeal those symbols are frequently found in popular venues especially where a retailer seeks to generate an ambience. They can also form part of cosmetic furnishings in household use.


I have normally resiled from a discussion of these matters because it is so hopelessly aligned with materialism. There is no doubt that it is not beneath me to contemplate the value of the material world (at least privately) but an exposition of it threatens to disclose what might be considered by some as shallowness. Following is a list of some of the symbols, icons and signs which have meant something to me: Canoe cologne for men by Dana, Rolex, Cadillac, gold, silver, steel, brass, copper, Billie Holiday, Bach, Chelsea clocks, Monet, mahogany, oak, silk rugs, Waterford crystal, Chaps cotton sweaters, Apple products, Sperry, Frederick S. Coburn, Tom’s Sunglasses, Hey Jude!, Ebb Tide, Steinway, Peterson briar pipes and Moissanite.


Unquestionably my material possessions have brought me a great deal of satisfaction. Perhaps because of my formerly nomadic life-style I cultivated an interest in portable items, things like jewellery, millefiori glass, small sculpture and paintings. I have learned the cost of maintaining and insuring those items can become tiresome so for practical purposes I have honed my passions accordingly. Lately I have begun to seek out quality but of a much lower degree where I no longer feel bound to an item other than for its temporal enjoyment.  Besides there is an undeniable link between the material world and one’s age and health.  Both correspond one to the other and therefore reflect a natural amortization of appeal.