Monday, December 14, 2015

Signs, Symbols & Portents

    We live our entire lives moving through a world of symbols.  Our gestures are symbols we use to aid our communication.  Our words are symbols that express thoughts in written, or spoken form.  And our apparel is a set of symbols we put on and take off each day, that, like these others, are meant in part to aid in conveying to those around us, what, and who they are looking at.
    Now, we may think that our choice of clothing, if we are lucky enough to have much choice, is of little moment.  Not so.  Not really.  Not when whether we like the idea that it's happening or not, the people who see us are using those Attire words to categorize, and file us away in their heads.  We all routinely, and unconsciously do this ourselves. We see, we process the cues we get, and we file the seen thing into the category in our heads that it best fits.
    The real problem here is that whatever set of symbols we use, there is always a level of miscommunication that goes on.  We misinterpret, and then misfile.  Why is that?  Well, simply that we cannot get inside someone's head or heart to know the truth of what they are telling us.  We are not literal mind readers. So with that understanding, we have developed multiple methods of helping ourselves along towards comprehending each other.  One of the oldest and most complex of these is Attire.
    Gestures are a huge boon to interpersonal dialog, but they vary in meaning from place to place, and time to time.  A gesture that means little or nothing in one culture, can be a viscous insult in another. Colloquial language, and slang is replete with examples of words and phrases that mean entirely different things from what they mean outside of a narrow set of circumstance.  The same is true for Attire.
    Manners of dress that are considered to be in good taste in one country are suspect in others.  So a person traveling might encounter the problem of not being able to understand, or be understood correctly, by their Attire statement.
    Behind our clothing, devoid of all these semiotics we employ to get the job done, are the things we want so much to have understood; our feelings, and our thoughts.  The center point of all this is the human heart.  And that is why I feel that Attire as a language we use all over the world, is so worthy of greater scrutiny than it gets.  Sure, we talk about fashion obsessively; but fashion is only one aspect of Attire.  Getting to see what this all means is important, to you, me, and the global culture that has been born already, and is struggling to stand up on its own two feet.

As we move further along in this century, and we find that nationalism is more and more of a problem than a benefit, we will also discover that our need of each other is greater than ever.  The problems we face in this world will require much of all of us, and the cooperation needed to deal with things like global warming, and shrinking resources, will only be aided by our closer comprehension of each other.  Its not the full answer, but the Attire language, given examination, can help.

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