Sunday, 1 January 2012

Contemplations and a new year

Woo! Hundredth post! Kinda sucky considering how long I have been blogging, but worth a cheer nonetheless, I think. Also: woo, new year! I guess. Nothing much exciting about that if you sit down and think about it, but with the mindset heavy-laden with symbols of our culture still clinging we tend to avoid doing that. Might as well ponder the meaning of the symbols, then, if we're not ready or willing to break free from them.

Rather than going specific concerning the ritual marking that the earth has once again successfully completed an orbit around the sun from an arbitrarily chosen point and back to the same one I think I will ponder in a more general direction today. It happens to be that I've been thinking about the whole concept of symbols quite a lot the past year. Maybe because, as an aspiring physicist, I'm surrounded by them and my work would be considerably more difficult without them. I've been searching for a connection between the use of symbols in physics or mathematics and the use of them in everyday life, or religion. Do they fill a purpose in a similar way? Ultimately: do we, as human beings, need them?

At least there's the difference that in everyday life, contrary to in physics, symbols evolve in a much more complex way than by a few people agreeing on one interpretation, or even an unambiguous symbol. Just look at christmas. It's a holiday celebrated widely among people across the world, but in rather different ways and often for quite different reasons. The remaining similarity is that there is a symbol for something. Something important enough to make a mental maybe-not-so-accurate projection out of, to make it easier to get a direct relation to the situation. After a while the symbols might even out-conquer what they represent, and the meaning of them is forgotten and crumbles beneath them like an old ballon behind papier mâché. Sometime over the years stuffing ourselves with food becomes more important than the sun climbing into a higher place in the sky each day, or the birth of some random saviour.

I think that's how we function as humans, and that our brains for some reason need to simplify or complicate things to be able to interpret them without going crazy. Might as well have some fun with it instead of fighting it, since there seems to be no way to escape symbols. New ones will spring if the old ones are driven out, anyway.

Well, that's my bit of pondering to mark the beginning of yet another year of contemplations. Let's hope it's a happy one!

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