Symbolic Freedom

I enjoyed the Mary McCarthy reading. She brought up an idea that really intrigued and excited me. This is the idea that symbols do not have to have previous meaning for them to be endowed with innate meaning. In other words, symbols do not have to come from past symbols for the author to clearly convey their meaning. New symbols can be found with meaning in and of themselves.
McCarthy calls this “the art of natural symbolism…” and it “has at bottom a centripetal intention.” This shows that symbols that are not contrived, but that occur naturally in life, have the natural component of their meaning being clear. This is simply because of their connection to reality. This type of symbolism cannot be merely contrived by relying on writers of the past. This intrigued me in that I could immediately sense it to be true in my own life. Things happen that are real yet also symbolic. We talked briefly about this in class yesterday.
The idea that a symbol can be symbolic without needing to reflect previously accepted symbols is empowering to the writer. It gives the writer the ability, and credibility, to create new ideas and worlds, real and imagined, that are full of meaning. When symbolism ceases to be imposed and rather allowed to naturally occur in writing, writers are given freedom to write what they mean without having to “mean” anything.
True creativity lies not in reflecting what has come before but in sensing and finding new meanings that are yet unrealized. I love what she says about the writer being, “fascinated by reality itself, as a butterfly collector is fascinated by the glimpse of new specimen.” This shows that writers do not need to pull symbolism from the past but can look to the reality of everyday life to find meaning in their work. Writers simple have to write well and the meaning will be there automatically.This is an empowering truth every writer should take to heart to write freely and creatively about their reality.


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