Symbols are best understood as signs that have deeper and more complex meaning. Signs translate directly to objects or ideas, and have something of a life of their own. The Christian cross or the Star of David, for example, do not have a direct translation. Rather, they carry symbolic meaning that can differ in different contexts. Worn on a chain around the neck, the cross might be a symbol that a person is Christian. To the person wearing it, however, the cross might be a reminder of personal faith or a means of identifying with a particular sect. This deeper meaning distinguishes the cross as a symbol instead of a sign.

“the difference between poets and mystics . . . The mystic nails a symbol to one meaning that was true for a moment but soon becomes false. The poet, on the other hand, sees that truth while it’s true but understands that symbols are always in flux and that their meanings are fleeting.”

Symbols cannot change without also changing their meanings. This is because symbols point us to unseen regions of the Real. They are not signs of this world so much as signals from elsewhere. In a sense, the symbol is itself the thing it refers to, even though in its self-reference it shoots out to a myriad of other things. The moon as a symbol might correspond with femininity (through its connection with the menstrual cycle), silver (its luminescence), dreams (its connection with sleep), the ocean (its influence on the tides)


Symbols belong to a non-temporal space in which all things are interconnected, not causally but imaginally. The term symbol compounds two Greek words, syn- and bole, which combined mean “thrown together” The symbol is a partial object, the only sensible part of something real yet invisible. It is like the mushroom, which in reality is just the sex organ of the sex organs of the psyche. The word symbol is closer to a neural network or dynamic process than to a static thing. The moon itself, the night, the sea are symbolic images reaching down to a living organism.

Symbols are lenses for observing the imaginal world beyond the range of normal awareness. Moby Dick tells us about Ahab’s decline, as a warning sign that he missed his one and only chance to beat the white whale because of it. The task of art is to get the symbol across in a way that allows it to be preserved and passed on. There is only potentiality for something to be, until the right situation presents itself.


We’re so busy holding onto signals that have been carried to us by symbol systems that you could say we are being ruled by the inventors of the wheel, the plow or the alphabet. Muscle memory is a thing for musicians. You forget by which processes you learned some stuff and vice versa. At the sub-symbolic level as there’s definitely atrophy with respect of prosody, meter, rhythm.

It makes you think if it’s all the symbol-mediated the ones that are gumming up the works. Symbols, signs and icons protect an image of reality, at the expense of reality itself. They fail to represent forces and flows correctly or use a variety for when they talk about the same hyper object. They bind us to narrativium whose function is to make us legible

It’s the bravery of being out of range culturally that instead of using planes to explore the unconscious, or even using planes to fight other planes (signifiers/signifieds/signs) we’re just designing flaps, spoilers and ailerons.