Symbolism Is Dead
In the famous book “The Great Gatsby” F. Scott Fitzgerald makes use of Symbolism many times. He does this by giving objects or people multiple meanings without actually stating the meaning. The most obvious example is the flashing green light which symbolizes hope. There have probably been a thousand high school book reports about this green light and what it truly meant.
Authors use symbolism to inspire readers to “fill in the blanks.” This powerful tool pulls people further into the story, generates discussion, adds mystery and confusion.
By their short nature, songs are often symbolic. A great example is "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)" by Meat Loaf. The singer does not specifically explain the topic he would not exchange for love. Even though this song was written in 1993, that basic question has not been answered. This controversy keeps the song poplar and adds to the endearing quality which made it great. As a listener it is fun to ponder the hidden meaning and I still think about this topic.
How many times have I used symbolism? None of my works contain a single hidden meaning and I would not touch this literary technique with a ten-foot pole! The reasons are clear as day. Writing is hard enough without interpretation and society no longer has the time to contemplate deep meaning. Intentionally vague or confusing topics will only lead to bad reviews.
I do like to keep things mysterious and hold back some facts. However, by the end of the story, this should all be clearly explained or the reader is told why this hidden knowledge remains hidden. So, if you encounter a green light in my work, it is simply a green light.
Other than in music and art, we no longer encounter symbolism. When did this occur? Perhaps the ‘70s? At that time, the peace movement faltered, we did a collective shrug and began disco dancing. Now, symbolism is an unwelcome topic only found in classrooms.
Do I enjoy pondering the deeper meaning in a book? Not really. I have joined the masses. Every day, information hits me like a tornado and I struggle to make sense of what little I let in. In the limited amount of time I devote to reading, I cannot be bothered with a book that does not get to the point or is confusing. Green lights mean go!
Will readers ever embrace symbolic books? I suppose we will always appreciate the classics but society has cast symbolic books aside. Is this a sad fact of life? I suppose. However, there is another viewpoint to consider. The author did the symbolic unscrambling. Their clear story made sense and readers were entertained. Everybody wins!
PS, my computer is still not feeling well. Typically, I write a blog and then noodle it for three weeks. I was unable to do that important scrub this time. In addition, I pass the document through Grammarly and Pro Writing Aid. This also did not occur. So, I apologize for presenting a blog that was a tad rough.
You’re the best -Bill
June 16, 2021
BUY MY BOOK
Read my next blog