Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Symbolism (Contd.)

After the last post, I came across a quote by someone. I forgot the source. Its about a village in Scotland where a company had made plans to diversify. To show what it wanted to mean to its employees' lives, a company official pointed to the village church and said, "That church is just a building which nobody generally visits on weekdays; people gather only on Sundays to sing songs and go away... But that church defines the relationship between every man and wife and every father and son in this village." Whether the company achieved such an effect among the community is a different question. But it underlined the fact that certain symbols have surprising power in society and in people's minds.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Brands and Symbolism

I recently attended a wedding near Coimbatore. There are few places on this earth where symbols are more pronounced than in an Indian wedding. The bride and groom were greeting guests with evidently tired faces. The bride's father was overseeing the feast in the hall and herding the guests who had turned up in their best jewels and dresses.

The very fact that a man and wife turn up together at a wedding seems a statement of their connubial bliss. Compounded by the statement of their affluence in the jewels of the wife. Add to it the size of the gift or amount of money they have brought to the bride. The very fact that it is an arranged marriage indicating the honor and well kept customs of the family. The number of dishes and sweets indicating how well the father has cared for his daughter. I have heard of family feuds starting in a marriage feast where the coffee had a little less sugar or the idly a bit over cooked. When one attacks the coffee, it's not seen by the father as a question of merely the drink alone but as a question of how well he has treated his daughter.

When Mahmud of Ghazni looted temples, he must have had little idea of the repercussions of his actions centuries afterwards. His acts must have been a mere optimisation of his returns to leading a costly army in a strange land. His excesses with the ladies anyhow we will overlook for the purpose of this essay. Temples of those days were laden with jewels and jade. But they were also the epicenter of the local economy. Gifts and lands were given to the temple administration by kings and merchants and the local market thrived because of a temple. They also promoted art, culture and literature those days. Add to it the pilgrims who come for spiritual ends, we have a complex symbol of the life of those times. Attacking a temple hits not only the economy but also at the psyche of the people. No wonder why the right wing Hindu organisations are still smarting.

What are famous brands but symbols? Some mystic figures which stir emotions that we never knew existed before. The power that a brand exerts on the human psyche is both surprising and frightening. Marketing managers in a way fiddle with these latent associations in our mind to influence our purchases. The logo, the promotions and even the color of these brands are chosen painstakingly to catch the small space in the retail estate our minds and in a sense make a claim for a symbol which will endure in our heads.

Gokulakrishnan S

20th June 2005


Why haven't I blogged till now ?

1) To start of blogging seems to imply a commitment to page viewers; a deadline to be met and I didnt want to be caught in such a trap. Nevertheless the virtues of putting your thoughts to paper (or HTML) arent lost on me. Hence I would write only when I felt like putting my thoughts on paper or something realllllllly exciting happens (e.g. I win the lottery)

2) Some great man said, "To start writing, one should have something to be said and a good enough reason to say it".My reasons are a) To give a structure to my thoughts over time b) To develop my writing skills.

So here I go. A few days ago on a TV channel, a literary critic was blaming the TV and cinema for looting literature oftop quality writers. When I read some of my friends blogs, I say TV serials and films aren't the only ones to blame.