Free Symbols

As in all romantic works of fiction, I have made liberal use of symbolism and whole symbologies.  They are there for the reader to interpret–or not–just as one prefers.  Probably the most abundant source of potential symbols is Nature.  For example, birds are used frequently in literature to represent a person’s longing for, or quest for, freedom.  A bird in a cage, then, means something quite different from a bird in flight.  Below, the Killdeer has a broken wing–no, that’s not quite accurate.  It pretends to have a broken wing to lure predators away from its nest.  Sounds like a lot of responsibility can come with that freedom.  Attention to detail is mandatory.  Bird imagery, if sustained through a work, would then become a symbology: an entire system of symbols.  Since the moon, too, has many incarnations (rising and setting, color, size, phases, state of eclipse by clouds or the sun, and so on) it would qualify as a symbology unto itself.

A free symbol doesn’t remain static.  It’s dynamic: it changes, it’s elusive.  It’s also one advantage of a novel, with its enlarged scope, over a poem or short story.  As in life, characters, situations, even locations, either grow or they decay.  So if I say “Jack had the work ethic of a spider building its web,” and then, 100 pages later, an actual spider gets displaced by a careless dog–well, that’s going to warn us about what happens to all Jack’s hard work.

So if the writer does his job right, such figures usually cannot be fully interpreted locally, only globally: that is, a reader has to experience the entire work, and consider how the symbol has changed and evolved, and to which of all the characters and concepts does it finally refer, and how, and why.  Quite a lot of fun, in my opinion, though not much like science and mathematics.  More for the right-brained among us, or inside each of us.Image

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