Looking at mottos

I’m sitting on the train, going with everything I own on my back. Outside the moving train, stations flash by, cities go by, people go on and off the train. Some people are in a hurry, some people just take it easy with a cigarette. That’s when I notice this motto on one of the ad posters; Travelling should be time to think, without thinking about the travelling.

It made me remember my own motto; Surviving is not the same as living. Some people work on making mottoes everyday. Some people just do it for fun, sending in one of those ad campaign slogan competitions. Some people do it more seriously, work for an advertisement agency just in the slogan department. Creating mottoes for people.

On closer inspection one notices that there’s this system to it, this structure, in how the mottoes are constructed.  It sets one thing against another. Like binary oppositions. Thinking-about-travelling vs thinking-about-my-blog. Living vs surviving. Spending vs saving. And, if this is true, then it is quite easy to create new mottoes that are as thought inviting as the one I saw outside the train. Mottoes that makes you go “haha, that was a smart one”. All you need to do is replace the oppositions, in a Claude Levi-Strauss kind of way.

This works because the motto brings the two oppositions together, creating a synthesis that is at once neither and both at the same time. Like how the crab is a very strange fish, caught in-between worlds, it also invokes a potential for both great fear and great power. It is beyond us in a sublime manner, but it is within our grasp in a more mind controlling manner. Thinking about the travelling itself makes you feel like you’re wasting time, it’s kind of absurd, like the Sisyphos myth. Pushing that rock all the way up, just to see it roll back down again. So instead of thinking about the travelling, you can be thinking about your goal, or what you left behind. Like Sisyphos, you are still pushing that rock, but this time you put a photo of your vacation spot on the rock, so your mind is elsewhere.

Better have one bird in hand, than two birds in the forest.


About RobinOberg

M.Sc. Social Anthropology M.A. Applied Cultural Analysis
This entry was posted in existential antropology, structuralistic anthropology, symbolic anthropology and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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