Saturday, February 16, 2008


Rebirth Essay

This essay analyzes the symbolism and meaning of the image “Rebirth”. The overall concept of this image deals with the idea of death of one’s self, of way of being, which leads to a renewed sense of self, or rebirth.

There are many objects in the room that have symbolic meaning. Starting from the right side of the image there are some objects in front of a mural. The mural is part of a painting by Pieter Brueghel the Elder call “Triumph of Death”. This can indicate a theme of death that is represented in some way in this area of the image. Looking at the objects in this area the viewer notices cages, a dead plant, and objects that are representative of institutions, such as schools (the podium, chalkboards, and books). These objects also reference another image, “The Cage”, which symbolizes the restricting, lifeless effects that strict institutions, and forms of sequestration can have on a person. Blindly accepting goals given from outside without question and without searching one’s soul to set goals according to the authentic self of the individual can squelch a person’s individuality and creative potential, thus making them dead to the world.

Moving to the left in the image, there are some steps, plants, a ladder, paint buckets, a mirror, and another mural that has a corner that is unfinished. This area of the image seems to contrast the right side of the image, perhaps indicating this side of the image represents life itself. The mural is part of a painting by Jan Brueghel, Pieter’s son, called “Paradise” which can point to a paradise that might be found in this area of the room. The paint buckets and painter’s case on the stool are tools of creation. Being creative can be part of self-expression, which points to the individuality of a person that is projected through the creative process. In this process of complete and honest expression, a person no longer deals with the strict, rigid, structures associated with restrictive institutions or forms of sequestration where the authentic self is neglected. The mirror in the image represents the constant growth of a person’s individuality that is refined and expressed again in a new way through one’s own self-reflection of who an individual is and who they want to be. Weaknesses and strengths, affections and aversions, failures and achievements are all analyzed and projected into something that is new and useful. This growth that is ongoing and never-ending of a whole individual is represented in the “Paradise” mural that is unfinished. The steps and the ladder in the image can represent the plateaus and even the obstacles themselves that must be overcome in order to achieve wholeness.

There are certain forms of thinking and ways of acting that may be inconsistent with who a person truly is. There may be a pull from someone outside or a draw from the mass in society that would rather shape a person against who they truly are. A person might have even become too content with where they are and no longer partake in that growth and productive nature of their authentic self. These are the obstacles and plateaus that a person might have to overcome on the path towards liberation.

In the center of the image the light shines on an object. This object is a compass rose, which symbolizes direction. A sense of direction is needed in order for a person’s purpose and destiny to be realized. Purpose is defined and destiny emerges with this sense of direction, which brings with it a deeper world of more possibilities and opportunities.

The far left of the image is where the eye is drawn. The most obvious objects in this corner are the telescopes, globes, maps, and books, which can point to some kind of exploration or start of a journey. These objects represent the opportunities that can exist with an unshakable belief in one’s authentic self. The richness and depth of all that an individual can achieve is more expansive and vast than the world that is represented on the maps.

On the right side of the window there is a red kite on the wall. The kite is symbolic of the cycle a person goes through in refining their individuality. Just as a kite rises and falls with the wind, the same can be said of a person when active in the ongoing process of searching for identity and purpose. There a constant tearing down and building up of the authentic self. This type of existence might seem laborious and difficult, but it is within this existence that a rich, higher reality can be experienced, and it leads to the realization of an individual’s contribution towards humanity.

Looking closely the viewer can see a dove on the windowsill. This dove looks out into the world of infinite possibilities. Traditionally, doves are a symbol of peace, thus indicating a peace of mind that one can take while exploring those infinite possibilities. Taking into account the image as a whole, this sense of peace seems to be a well-earned inner peace. The difficult path of transcending a restrictive existence where a person’s individuality and identity is neglected leads to a rebirth. This new existence that is rich, luminous and full of life, contrasts the restrictive and mundane existence of sequestration, fear, and obscure identity. Within this existence lies a higher reality that has a resolute foundation of a known purpose and destiny, which in itself is a path of freedom.

-Jason Godbey.