Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Metaphor Of Pictures

Lets look at some examples of pictures, to understand the feel of each of them, how they are similar and how they differ. And what makes a picture tell a story, even if there is no one in it.

Example 1

This picture makes me think of Mardi Gras, since I grew up in New Orleans as a child. But because I can personalize this picture so easily, or identify with it, it also makes me feel nostalgic. I think of all the friends I had, that I haven't seen in years. All the years of going to parades and getting doubloon, beads, and other trinkets. The whole city feels like its in a week long festival.

The absence of people in the picture does not make its ability to tell a story, for me, any less. I see it and my mind automatically thinks of all of those people's joy, excitement, and pleasure.

But on that same note, it can make me think of my family's personal tragedy for going through Katrina. I know, its not a picture of damage, homes destroyed, people left homeless, or anything else heartbreakingly sad, but it can be for me if I let it be, because beneath that one emblem of New Orleans is a world of people's suffering that touched me and my family personally.

The point is, I can associate it with either of those two perspectives, happy and fun or utter desolation and loss. It simply depends on my frame of mind at the time, my experiences with these emblems (whether I've been through it personally or simply read about it secondhand), and what I think it means, as a metaphor. But beyond those things that I associate with it, it has a meaning for everyone. So in asking what you feel from it, it doesn't matter what it is you see, only that you see. There is no right or wrong in this.

Example 2

A simple blue eye. What does this mean? Of course it can have many meanings, but lets look at some of the things you can associate with a blue eye. The term azure sight, which can be readily projected on this image because of its eye color and is used sometimes in poetry to proclaim one one as having clear sight, is used sometimes to mean that one can see clearly, beyond all of of the masks people put up to shield their true selves from the world.

As well, it can be used to describe an Empath, if one understands its meaning. And while your thoughts might instead first lean toward seeing this as Clairvoyance, which means Clear Sight, let me explain a bit. An Empath, which we have defined so often on Empathic Perspectives, is one who can feel other people's emotions. They have the ability to push beyond the boundaries others build up around themselves to get to the heart of many problems and issues. So if one takes it in this light, that feeling is a type of seeing, even if one sees through feeling instead of vision and/or sight, then one can use an eye as a metaphor for an Empath.

As well, if one thinks about auras, the color blue has its own meanings. Here is one such meaning taken from, New Age Spirituality: The Meaning Of Aura Colors:

Blue is the color of spirituality, intuition, inspiration and inner peace. It is also associated with sadness and depression (the "blues"). In healing blue is used for cooling and calming, both physically and mentally. In the aura blue indicates serenity, contentment and spiritual development.

Another site, which is titled The Aura Color Meaning Of Blue, says:

THE BLUE AURA GROUP: This interesting group of astral colors represents the varying forms and degrees of religious emotion, "spirituality," etc. The highest form of spiritual, religious feeling and thought is represented by a beautiful, rich, clear violet tint, while the lower and more gross phases of religious emotion and thought are represented by the darker and duller hues, tints, and shades until a deep, dark indigo is reached, so dark that it can scarcely be distinguished from a bluish black. This latter color, as might be expected, indicates a low superstitious form of religion, scarcely worthy of the latter name. Religion, we must remember, has its low places as well as its heights--its garden grows the rarest flowers, and at the same time the vilest weeds.

High spiritual feelings--true spiritual unfoldment--is indicated by a wonderfully clear light blue, of an unusual tint, something akin to the clear light blue of the sky on a cool autumn afternoon, just before sunset. Even when we witness an approach to this color in Nature, we are inspired by an uplifting feeling as if we were in the presence of higher things, so true is the intuition regarding these things.

Morality, of a high degree, is indicated by a series of beautiful shades of blue, always of a clear inspiring tint. Religious feeling ruled by fear, is indicated by a shade of bluish gray. Purple denotes a love of form and ceremony, particularly those connected with religious offices or regal grandeur of a solemn kind. Purple, naturally, was chosen as the royal color in the olden days.

So, when one begins to look at the blue eye, if one separates the two words, 'blue' inspires its own connotations and meanings, while the word 'eye' does the same on its own. And when you bring those two ideas together into one phrase 'blue eye', it creates its own unique meaning.

Because I also write poetry and this is a metaphor I use in my writing sometimes, this is the context through which my understanding of the term 'blue eye' is formed. It certainly doesn't mean that this is the only meaning of this phrase, but only how I might associate it with a picture I see, if I personalize it to see myself within it.

Example 3
The Geisha is a wonderful idea because it takes the idea of wearing a mask and being something, other than oneself, to please others and externalizes it. The face is painted to accentuate certain ideals that the Japanese find pleasing, much like a doll is done for both Western and Eastern societies. In a way she is like a living doll, because she is accomplished in many different forms of art, and it is as much about the detail of that art as it is about what image she projects to others through the use of costume, like Kimono, hairstyles and makeup.

Through all of her accessories or props, she is able to be what others wish her to be, whether that is seduction or innocence. The face is painted in such a way as to leave a hint of skin showing at the back of the neck, while the rest is a pale white and the hair is put into an upsweeping design, in order to hint at seduction but not bring it to the forefront.

As Empaths, we tend to do this, as well, in our own style and fashion. We set aside ourselves for a certain amount of time to help or please others. In this discussion, the point is not to ask about motivations, or to ask whether or not it is selfish or unselfish. It simply is what it is, because you do it despite motivation. You become what others need you to be in order to help them.

A great quote from the movie, Memoirs Of A Geisha, helps make this point: 'She paints her face to hide her face. Her eyes are deep water. It is not for Geisha to want. It is not for geisha to feel. Geisha is an artist of the floating world. She dances, she sings. She entertains you, whatever you want. The rest is shadows, the rest is secret.'

An image of a geisha with perhaps a word, a tattoo, or an object with her helps to exemplify who and/or what she is and what she can do. Take the image with a geisha who bears the tattoo of a spider. The spider in itself has its own meaning. One such meaning, which can be found in the idea of the Spider Totem, helps make the point of the picture more apparent.

Spider is the weaver connecting the knowledge of the past with the possibilities of the future. Notice that the shape of the body loosely resembles the sign for infinity.

Also notice that the center of the web is always small (you), and the web ever expanding (your possibilities).

Spider cautions us not to get locked into the illusion that has made you what you think you are. Our behavior, and our belief systems, and our view of ourselves is locked into an illusion of who we truly are that was created for us by others; usually starting as a small child. As we grow, our life becomes a reflection of those illusions, and those of us who do not follow that pattern are "rebels" or "black sheep" or other terms that imply non-conformity.

We are locked into that illusion because it has become our "comfort zone", and it is our fears of the unknown and untested which keep us in that zone. It is far easier to live in the hell we know, than to stick our mental and emotional toes out into the world and chance discovering that there is another way which may be better for us.

Spider is telling us that the possibilities for each of us is only limited by our own view of ourselves. Notice that the web constantly grows, outward, still connected to that small center space. It is always reaching, always expanding, never satisfied with the status quo. When something of value get caught in the web, it is taken back to that small center and utilized; never wasted. It may be stored for later use, but it is never wasted.

The next time you come upon spider weaving its web, stop to really look. Notice the beauty and symmetry and balance; the careful and intricate design. Spider is telling you to have the courage to reach out and create your own tomorrows; to break out of the illusion that has you locked in a time-step, and discover who and what you truly are.
When you combine the two ideas of the geisha and the spider, it means possibilities of expanding oneself are limitless. It says that the person, who uses this picture as their own metaphor, is aware of this and wishes others to know it. In Empath terms, it means one who sets themselves aside to help others reach unlimited possibilities. That is why I often use the image of the Spider Geisha when I work with people.

The Conclusion

In this discussion you've seen a number of images that have a personal meaning to me, and why I feel a personal connection with each. I would suggest you search for pictures that represent you to use as avatars, if you prefer not to use your own pictures online. Be the person you are. It can be done through metaphor and pictures, as much as it can be done with a picture of yourself.

Once you begin to find things that represent you, other metaphors get easier to understand, because you will begin to see how others might connect with it, personalize it, internalize it, interpret it and/or identify with it.

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