Ideas. Stories. Insights.


Symbols have changed our lives

Carmen · Jan 2017 · 2 min read

A young man had spent hours hunting a bison by the river of the stumbling bridge, everybody knew the place. He finally captured it and a huge celebration ensued. Along with family and friends. They all arrived, sang, ate and listened to his adventures around a crackling campfire.

Their voices and laughter carried deep into the night, which was filled with millions of stars and howling wolves, the only witnesses to the scene. Soon the fire weakened, the smoke smouldered and thick furs covered the sleeping folk as they dreamed of catching yet another bison.

The next morning, as the sun crept slowly behind the hills and beyond, eager birds chirped their lovely songs. The chief trumpeted his new idea.

People, let’s mark this day for times to come so our fellow men will know about this blissful country.

Yes, great idea! Shouted the crowd and the wheel of history turned into a higher gear. They immediately gathered ochre, charcoal and mixed it with the organic residue from the day before as colour pigments and drew bison on the cave wall, to mark their message of joy and achievement.

And so symbols were born! They now had a language, an identity. They were … story-tellers. This was the time when men became heroes, heroes became legends and thoughts became symbols. And all of this happened some thousands of years ago.

A fantastic TED Talk by Genevieve von Petzinger: