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Symbols of the Night

Battle of Symbols

Symbols of the Night

Media virus was the symbolism behind American fears in October of 2001. It centered on the emergence of another powerful symbol making culture which threatened to take over the reigns of symbol making from the west. Were fundamentalists attempting to hijack America’s symbol making ability on a global scale?

For years they had been able to dip into these symbols via satellite dishes. They had grown up on American symbols. In effect, they had learned from the "master" and were applying these lessons. The result was a great animosity in fundamentalists about these American symbols. They had been moved by them and, at the same time, they despised these symbols and finally despised themselves for being moved by them.

Even more than the hijacking of commercial airliners, they might have hijacked a part of America’s symbol making ability. In some respects, they understood American symbols better than Americans understood them. This should not be all that surprising. Marshall McLuhan once said "We don’t know who it was that discovered water, but we’re pretty sure it wasn’t a fish."

And too, they understood American symbols in a different way than Americans did. To Americans these entertainment and advertising symbols were only competing symbols in the world’s greatest battleground of symbols. For the most part, the grand symbols created by Hollywood and Madison Avenue owned the leisure time of Americans, the evenings and weekends centered on consumption of symbols rather than the daily work of symbol production.

But to fundamentalists entertainment and advertising symbols provided a type of 24/7 image of America. They assumed America was in pursuit - both day and night - of the symbols they saw. In effect, their image of America centered around an American culture at leisure rather than one at work. They knew little about the working America. Ironically, American symbols were produced at work but they were not really about work, about the day time consciousness of America. They were about the fantasies away from work. The night time fantasies of dreams and nightmares. It was these fantasies the fundamentalists saw and concluded they saw everything about America.

Americans knew entertainment and advertising never portrayed all of America. Yet it was entertainment and advertising that became the grand symbol "spokespersons" for America in a media saturated modern world where Hollywood image became reality far more than American reality was ever transformed into any type of image.

Modern symbols were extracted by Freudian analysis from the night world of dreams and sent to enslave the day world of consumer culture. The fact that their creations came from a dream world is lost on much of the world, especially the fundamentalist part of the world. It is even lost on America itself. The fantasies of dreams made into films and television programs worked to create a dream world image. Ironically, it is a dream world that enslaved America as much as it enslaved America’s enemies.

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Copyright © 2001 John Fraim