Evolution Embedded In Symbols Essay

2709 words - 11 pages

Evolution Embedded in Symbols

Two billion years ago two prokaryotes bumped into each other and formed the first multi-cellular organism. 65 million years ago an asteroid hit the earth and dinosaurs became extinct. Three days ago, in your notebook you drew a mess of squiggles which to you represented Jackson Pollock's painting, Number 1, 1948. You wrote the word entropy on the upper left hand corner of the page. On the bottom right hand side you wrote, Creativity is based on randomness and chance.

This paper is, in part, an exploration of the pictures and words that we place in notebooks; it is an investigation of the human fixation with the creation of symbols via art and writing. But is also about how the symbols drawn in one's notebook are just as relevant as the development of multi-cellular organisms and the extinction of the dinosaurs. Indeed human symbol-making relates to the entire spectrum of evolutionary processes.

If human recorded history only represents 10,000 years of a universe which has been evolving for 15 billion years, then how can such relatively recent human cultural practices as writing and art tell us anything about evolution? I would like to suggest that if we look at artifacts of human visual and written culture, we can find evidence of a human quest to understand biological evolution. Indeed, it seems that symbol-making allows humans to reconnect to their biological roots. It allows people to reenact and represent the biological principles of evolution. Ultimately, this paper will look at the way in which the brain allows for this symbol-making. It will discuss the way the brain itself is an evolutionary object, an emergent system capable not only of evolving but of representing evolution. But before going into an explicit discussion of the biological causation for the evolutionary processes imbedded in symbol-making, let us look at some of the inherent properties of art and writing which parallel the evolutionary process.

In her book, On Beauty and Being Just, Elaine Scarry states that "beauty incites replication" (4). Like a history of evolution, a history of human symbolic representation is heavily dependent on the act of reproduction. This reproduction has manifested itself quite literally. For example, when a painter finds something in nature to be beautiful, she can reproduce it on the canvas and when a writer finds a moment to be inspiring, she can transcribe the moment into "a set of instructions [i.e. words] about how [a reader] can imagine or construct [that moment]" (Dreaming by the Book, Scarry, 6). Like sexual reproduction which allows organisms to share their genetic material in order to continue species and to create new organisms, pictures and words help with a lateral transfer of cultural information, its continuance and recombination. To create a symbol of something with a string of words or with an art material is to perpetuate that which is beautiful for future generations.


Find Another Essay On Evolution Embedded in Symbols

Fossil Gaps Essay

1232 words - 5 pages . Lastly, the theory of evolution suggests that the fossil record will indicate a general pattern of slow transformations of primitive creatures into our more sophisticated creatures of today. In fact, the opposite holds true, as Darwin himself complained: "Innumerable transitional forms must have existed, but why do we not find them embedded in countless numbers in the crust of the earth?" Even the major evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould said, “The

Puerto Ricans and Music Essay

1329 words - 5 pages Puerto Ricans and Music Puerto Ricans have music in their spirit and in their souls. It seems to be ever present in their lives from their childhood and sweetens their very existence. Since I was young, I can remember the music playing all night, while my family ignored the time and enjoyed each other's company. Music is a part of every Puerto Rican because it is embedded in our culture. It has become a cultural symbol for Puerto Ricans

The Combination of Society and Culture

1223 words - 5 pages abstractions to others. This enculturation was brought to light by Emile Durkheim who said, "We live in a society we did not make (Noble 86). Our very ideas of ourselves are shaped by the society we were born into". Basically stating that culture is embedded into ones life at an unconscious level. For example, if a child is born into a white supremacist family, that child will grow up believing that whites are the superior race and everyone

Geertz and Baptism

1951 words - 8 pages background or a cultural emphasis, such as what Clifford Geertz defined. Geertz focused on the importance of symbols in religion, their cultural perceptions, the meanings that are attributed to the act, and how it relates to the the society’s value systems. By applying his theory about religion as a culture to the baptismal ceremonies in Judaic and Christian religions, the ritual can be viewed as an important cultural symbol, signs of various cultural

Religion in Rap Music

1754 words - 8 pages ‘thick’ exploration of hip hop culture in general and rap music in particular – arguing that in the varied rituals, the signs and symbols of its meaning-making, hip hop culture and rap music signify alternate modalities of life affirmation, or what one might call ‘redemptive practices’.5 Conversation concerning the relationship between music and religiosity, for instance, is and has been part of the theological evolution of African American


1729 words - 7 pages present in all of Eastern Philosophy. Shiva, although directly related to the Eastern hemisphere, does also relate to the contemporary world, western thought, and other philosophical systems around the globe. One example would be that the worship of Shiva has undergone evolution based on the area where he is being devoted, therefore conforming itself to the culture in which it is embedded (Gokhale 92). Also, a pillar form of Shiva known as the

The Power and Problem of Religious Symbols: A Need for Change

2001 words - 8 pages symbols, religion becomes “idolatry” by affirming the “it-is” of its symbols. The effect of the “it-is” use of symbols is only compounded by the patriarchal perspectives embedded in religion, society and the symbols used therein (Gross 169). According to Christ and Plaskow, “androcentric perspectives have affected not only the language and images we use to name the sacred, but also our conceptions of God’s transcendence” (95). God is now an

What Impacts Did Cuneiform Writing Have?

776 words - 4 pages pointed a certain way. Then, overtime, writing pictures for certain words became hard. That is when writing with symbols became more frequent ( "The Cuneiform Writing System in Ancient Mesopotamia: Emergence and Evolution | EDSITEment.", 2013 ). Cuneiform was written with a stylus, which was a stick of reed, they would then write on a clay tablet that was damp so that the stylus would easily carve symbols, after they were done writing, the clay

Symbolic Deconstruction in Thos Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49

665 words - 3 pages Symbolic Deconstruction in The Crying of Lot 49      The paths leading toward knowledge (of self, of others, of the world around us) are circuitous. Thomas Pynchon, in his novel The Crying of Lot 49, seems to attempt to lead the reader down several of these paths simultaneously in order to illustrate this point. Our reliance on symbols as efficient translators of complex notions is called into question. Beginning with the choice of

"Their Eyes were Watching God" essay (with quotes)

1146 words - 5 pages her own dream. The pear tree symbol had begun the novel with ideals of the perfect life for the heroine of the novel Janie. Then Janie's hair symbolized her weaknesses and her oppression in life. From the time of Janie living in her Grandma's ideals to the blooming of herself at the end of hurricane, Zora Neale Hurston had incorporated symbols to help the reader understand Janie's progression and evolution in life.

Is face-to-face (F2F) communication necessary for the expression of emotions? What effects have the use of SMS on the development and maintenance of relationships today?

1087 words - 4 pages a person is feeling about what they are saying and towards they're immediate physical proximity. The information received from expressions is always tied to the expresser and the specific on-going situation( Meyrowitz, 85).In contrast, Goffman defines communication to mean the use of language or language like symbols for the intentional transmission of a message. Communication involves purposeful symbolic utterances or written statements about

Similar Essays

Art Enlightens The Mind Essay

1558 words - 6 pages art materials, such as paints, chalk and markers” (“What”). When people are unable to express their feeling through words, they result to using images and symbols (“What”). Images and symbols allow people to reveal themselves and their feelings through levels of interpretation. Art therapists specialize in deciphering nonverbal symbols and metaphors embedded in the patient’s creation in order to understand their troubles. People suffer from

The Power Of Words Essay

2008 words - 8 pages communication and thoughts that words have the power to mold our values, emotions and perception. We encounter large amounts of hidden implications and deceptions embedded in words on a daily basis, from the books we read to the news we hear. Language can be a powerful instrument of expression when effectively applied or that of deceits when abused. Thus, the objective of this essay is to evaluate the impact of language on our

Test Essay

1778 words - 8 pages ) in relation to this change implementation. Change Path The change path selected for this change was initially Reconstruction. The end result of the change is realignment and the nature big bang. However, the nature of the change will Figure 3 3 Change Path (Balogun and Hope Hailey (2004) extend beyond its initial big bang implementation to an incremental embedding of the change (i.e. Evolution). This extension will allow for

Themes And How Their Revealed In “Inherit The Wind”

1016 words - 5 pages insulting Brady. But Drummond goes on Brady’s side and says that he was a very good man he was also right throughout the trial. This quote shows the reality of how caring and passionate he is, to his opponents. The importance of free thought is another very important theme in “Inherit the Wind”. This is shown through Cates and Rachel. Cates had broken the law of Hillsboro and how you cannot teach evolution in the schools. When in the trial the