Monday, March 29, 2010

Spring: Post for April 2

Hello All,

There are two components to any symbol: the physical object and the abstract concept the object represents.

First and foremost, the symbol must be a physical, tangible, material thing that can be perceived by the senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, smell.

Freedom, therefore, cannot be a symbol. Love cannot be a symbol.

An eagle, on the other hand, can be a symbol (of freedom). A heart can be a symbol (of love).

Often, symbols are culture-specific. For example, for Americans, the Bald Eagle is a symbol of America and of freedom. For other cultures, however, the Bald Eagle is just a bird. Their symbol of freedom might be a horse (for nomadic cultures) or a dolphin (for seafaring cultures).

Archetypes differ from symbols in that archetypes transcend cultures; in other words, they are symbols that all cultures share. For example, a mother is a symbol of care, comfort, and life. These connotations are shared by all cultures.

If, as Stevens writes in Ariadne's Clue (1998), these "archetypal propensities [...] underlie all human thought and action" (p. 21), from where do these archetypes arise?

Many evolutionary biologists and psychologists believe this capacity for symbol formation is one of the hallmarks of humanity; thus, it was when we began to create symbols that we became more than ape. We became human. As such, the capacity for and pattern of symbol formation may be hard-wired into our brains, our genes, our very being.

Here is your assignment. I have three different photographs on the English 310 webpage ( One is a griffin from Apollo Temple in the city of Didim in Modern Turkey (what used to be Ancient Greece), one is of an elk sculpture that sits in front of the Walter Stiern Library, and one is of a graffiti train parked in Tehachapi. In each case, an artist went out of his or her way to create a symbol.

Your assignment is to choose one of these three symbols and post an explanation as to just what this thing represents. What does the griffin represent? What does the elk represent? What does the blue ghost represent?

Good luck!


  1. I dont know specifically what the elk represents but i can assume it symbolizes maybe power, or strength, possibly freedom. The elk is looking up, looks strong yet no expression. maybe prideful.
    Sarina Flores

  2. Overall, I think the Elk symbolizes strength, freedom, power, and energy. Due to males and females staying in groups of their gender, except during mating, the elk is considered to have a unique type of energy. The Elks honor the companionship of their gender and call on the power of sisterhood/brotherhood. The Elk teaches people that strength increases when they pace themselves during stressful times in order to maintain energy’s stability so that the body doesn’t give up to tiredness(that is why we have an elk at CSUB).
    ***Edith Bejar***

  3. Elks are known for being strong and powerful. I think that the elk sculpture that is located infront of the library represents power, pride, strenght, and endurance. The elk sculpture is standing tall and straight. The elk is looking straing up with its long antlers which to me are signs of power and pride. Overall, I think the elk sculpure in front of the library represents a mixture of pride, power, freedom, and endurance.
    Nancy Sanchez

  4. I believe the elk is a symbol for strength, endurance, will-power, determination, and power. This animal has to survive tremendous weather conditions and is also hunted by many. This animal is a fighter and can survive the most overwhelming conditions. The sculpture outside of the library represents strength and determination.
    Cindy Astorga

  5. Brittany Stevens
    I believe the elk sculpture in front of the library to symbolize power, strength, cooperation, and nobility. The elk is a power animal that usually travels in a herd. The elk herd relies on each other and are rarely seen alone. They are a group of animals that work together and know they have the members of their group to help them. With this, I believe the reason the elk sculpture was placed in front of the library was to symbolize that the library is there to help the people of the community and so are the workers. One should not be scared to ask for help because that is what the library is there for; for all of us to work together and learn.

  6. I believe the Elk structure is there to show a sense of power, pride and unity. The way the elk is presenting himself, with his head held high, is a way of showing he is powerful and has a lot of pride. Also, it is a male elk, which is another symbol of power and protection. The reason I say unity is because elk are herd animals. They rely on eachother, and unless provoked by a predator, are always united together. I think this is why it is outside of our library; representing the power we have, pride we have for our campus, and even the unity we all have as students of the same school.
    --Rachel Sterling

  7. When thinking of Graffiti, many get a negative connotation of what the underlying meaning may be. As generations have progress on, there have many young people who misuse the art of leaving behind signs to represent family legacies. In past times, Native Americans would draw on rocks and even the Egyptians would write on pyramids. However the difference between their writing and the "art" of today is the fact that the meaning of the Native Americans and Egyptians had meaning behind their art. I think that the blue ghost represents or symbolizes that the soul or the spirit will never leave that particular sect or group.

    --Timeshia Womack

  8. The elk seems to represent peace and strength. A person does not normally think of an elk as vicious or dangerous, but a person does know that elks are strong. Yet, at the same time, elks have a peace about them. When they eat, they seem so delicate with their food. It is interesting that an elk emits both qualities. Maybe, this represents the two opposite extremes that a "hero" should strive to characterize himself as.
    ~~Cassie Marchman~~

  9. A griffin is known as a powerful and majestic creature, it has the body of a lion and the head of an eagle.The lion is known as the king of the beasts, the highness of the jungle, the most powerful. The eagle is the king of the birds,the most intelligent and powerful of its kind. The lion and eagle both share protective instincts, they guard their territory. This griffin has the combination of characteristics of a lion and eagle. It symbolizes the power that the temple holds, and the security surrounding it.

    Kari-Lyn Doria

  10. Elvira Alvarez

    All I can say about the elk is that they are really large and strong mammmals, therefore an elk like this one outside the library represents strengh and power. Overall, the elk can show a symbol of that strengh that students passing by need to keep on going in their careers, or that strengh needed to confront any fears.

  11. The graffiti seems to represent a blatant disregard for law and order. Someone decided it was absolutely imperative to place his or her mark on a traincar. The graffiti symbolizes not only a misrepresentation of vandalism as art, but also the sense of urgency to destroy.

    Sergio Espain

  12. I think that the blue graffiti ghost althought it is a ghost, which represents death, spirts, soul, and the unknown. I think that the blue graffiti ghost repersents the unknown especalliy with it's spirally eyes.

    Camila Ramirez

  13. I do not know much about the elk, but from the picture, it appears to be a strong animal. The animal has his head held up high, which makes the animal appear to be prideful; proud of who he is and has high self-respect for himself. When i see this picture, the word stamina comes to mind.
    -Jenna Ortiz

  14. I think the elk symbolizes strength and determination. Strength can be defined in many ways but I think in this case it shows the strength someone needs to continue reaching their goals or whatever obstacle it is. As for determination, I see it as a way to being determine about going all the way with your goals and finishing strong.
    -Rosio Sanchez

  15. The elk is a representation of strenght, pride, and honor. Elks are large mammals that live in tough conditions, making it a strong animal. When elks walk, they walk slow, but yet strong. They make every step firm. Recently I brought my cousins (ages 5-10) to campus and gave them a tour. We had exited the library and the elk caught their eyes. Of course to make the day better they wanted to take pictures next to the Elk, as i got closer i notices how tall it was compared to me, and it even intimidated me for a bit. So I believe this elk represents confindence as long as pride, strenght, and honor.
    *Vicky Aguirre

  16. The griffin is a mythological creature that represents magic and transformation. The griffin is unique because it has the tail and body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle. The lion represents strength and power while the eagle symbolizes liberty, flight, and also strength. With these two animals combined into a mythical creature, this creature shows a surpass in power and highness.

    Fatima Lucio

  17. Elk represent pride, Strength, and will-power; elk are symbols of empowerment. Elks nevertheless are animals that can withstand harsh living conditions showing that they have tremendous strength. Their strength can also be described or interrupted by their enormous antlers. In the photo the elk is positioned as though it is calling out to it fellow elk representing its will-power to survive. Consequently the elk also are prideful; this can be interrupted by the statue of the elk.

  18. Griffins have the body of lion and head of eagle. lion is the king of the jungle and eagle is the known for king of t he air which both represents the power. when you combine both in one body you have one king that controls the air and the ground. i think they use griffins to show how powerful their king is.

  19. Trains are fast forms of transportation used for carrying object/people, and can symbolize speed, freedom, wondering the world. Ghosts are spiritual beings that may represent death or else what may lie beyond life. Blue is a color which has represented coolness, or else sorrow/depression. Spirals represent continuous chaos, lack of control; when used as eyes can symbolize disaray/being stunned. The blue ghost on the train with the spiral eyes is symbolic of someone getting hit by something and dying a quick, yet tragic death; (or else represents a juvenile's disregard for the law (graffiti) and fascination with Packman).

  20. For my post I chose the elk. I believe the elk symbolizes power, strength and freedom. Also, energy the elk teach you to pace yourself and not take on more than you can. Elk live out in the wilderness free to roam about and they have the strength and power to survive.
    Ana Aguilar

  21. For the posting i chose the blue ghost figure; the graffiti art depiction from Tehachapi. The figure seems to represent or symbolize rebellion and all the institutions implemented by our society. It is a clear indication of self expression in which the artist frees himself from the norms and instead creates what represents him. This ghostly figure will travel all over the country demonstrating the artist.

    Ricardo Razo

  22. The blue ghost represents feelings of not being heard or seen in society. The ghost is in a state of chaos, so this might represent feeling unsure of oneself and lost.
    Tracy Slegers

  23. I think the griffin is the physical representation of strength and protection. It is the combination of a lion and an eagle. A lion, in my opinion, is a very regal creature; it is the "king" of the animals. Where the lion represents strength and power, an eagle represents freedom and protection. Combining these two animals into one creature creates a strong symbol of guardianship.

    Kristen Perez

  24. -Joel P
    I believe the elk represents calm yet wild aspect in everyone. The elk not only is a strong creature but it is also calm and serene which helps to symbolize something that is in everyone. The calm and gentle side yet there is a power unmatched in all humans. Overall the elk represents a side that all people have.

  25. When thinking of graffiti represents a form of their inner self, the person who painted it anyways. I took a criminal justice class this passed quarter and I learned the graffiti usually represents someone's territory. With this piece of art on a train, it means that wherever it goes will be that person's territory. This is only my opinion of it anyways.

    ***Sean Collier

  26. The graffiti represents a name or a nickname that the person drawing made for himself. The reason why it was on the train was because it says that he or she is going places in life and he or she wanted to make a stamp in life.

    ~Kenneth Clark

  27. The griffin unites the power and strength of a lion with the speed and excellent vision of an eagle. The lion is the king of all beasts and the eagle is the king of all birds and air. Many people associate the dual characteristics of the griffin with that of Jesus (God and Human). This unique combination allows for the griffin to represent bravery, courage and vigilance and is seen and viewed as a guardian of holy and ancient cities.

    ~Ali Zanial

  28. In my opinion griffin represents power and safeness. The body of a griffin is a lion, and a head is an eagle. A lion is a king of a land and an eagle is a king of the sky. The dinasty that engraved the picture of a griffin in their wall wanted to say that their kingdom is so guarded by themselves on the earth, and by God on the sky. So, thir palace is safe.

    -Nigina Boltaeva

  29. In the native American Horoscope the Elk is a quick witted and friendly animal. I think it is good having it in front of the library because it is welcoming. It also represents a place of knowledge sitting outside the library.

    ***Cory Brown

  30. I believe that the elk in front of the waltern steirn library represents is strength and power. Strength because the elk is a big animal that survives on its own in the wild, and power because i think that it gives students or anyone that looks at it you can be big and powerful and achieve anything you want.

    sarahi a veloz

  31. The graffiti of the blue ghost represents a symbol or mark of someone name. Many taggers represent themselves through murals that they create on walls of any open space. These people battle for the territory by tagging in locations that can been seen by everyone. their whole purpose is to be recognized for their art work, but also challenge other taggers. the one with the biggest mural and most creative gets street credibility, and respect. Robert De Anda