This week, the idea that I keep coming across in different contexts are the hidden meanings, disguised by enigmas, used in antiquity.
Did you know that Plato had an unwritten doctrine? Plato wrote about the unreliability of the written word to convey certain ideas, because the written word, unlike argument, cannot be defended anew according to the needs of each new audience member. One of his lectures was secret in order to avoid misunderstanding.
These "secrets" involved a combination of science, religion and poetry/myth. The poetry/myth was like the outer shell, which the non-initiated would think was the final message. But those who knew there was a symbolic meaning could analyse it in order to reach the meaning: for example, the multiple gods of ancient Greece were not actually multiple gods, but the various expressions and powers of a central divinity, which would go by different names according to which school of thought was in question ("Nature"; "the One that is Good"; etc).
There are so many reasons I can think of for not saying outright what we mean in certain situations. I think this is especially true if we are talking about something that really matters to us, personally. It can be such a waste of time to embark on such subjects with people who do not share/ are not open to similar views or values. It was this experience that caused me to close my FaceBook account; it seemed that everyone just wanted to toot their own horn. But maybe this is a natural state of affairs: maybe the core set of our beliefs is not up for debate. Full stop. So, to continue to speak freely, it is best not to say what we mean directly, and allow Time and Circumstance to garner our friends for us.
What I mean by this is that we can best see who suits us as friends when we have gone through a whole variety of experiences with them. It may be the experience, more than the words, that will show us who is close to us, because some people may be hiding what they mean, or others may talk the talk, but not be walking the walk. A typical example of the latter is the criticism I often see in blog comments: "This blog post is WRONG because you are forgetting about the children starving in Africa!" Well, congratulations to these humanists who would stomp on their neighbour to help someone else.
Let me play a game. What is the allegorical meaning of Garance Dore's concern with weight gain? I agree that people who move to the US tend to gain weight they never had. Obsessions over weight and work and exercise seem to paste those kilos on, and few are those who make it to the farmer's market as opposed to the supermarket. Is there a lesson here?
OK, now another attempt. What does the macaroon mean? Why is it featured in so many blog posts, ads, photo shoots? Is it a symbol of what we think we deserve, our just deserts, after so much hard work? I know that for people born in my generation, desserts were reserved for special occasions. Is the macaroon a zen attempt to bring special moments into the now? Macaroons are small (except at Paul's), so is it a doll-house wish to gather around us all we love in miniature, like things kawaii made for matchbook flats?
But the thing about the allegory is that something can mean none or all of those things - and more.

Elements: macaroons, star paper: pugly pixel.

What would you wrap up in enigma, as a secret?

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