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Sense of Direction


Interesting use of white. In the West death is associated with the color black, but in the east death is associated with the color white and the North (Winter/Snow).

That was the comment I left on Tasha’s latest blog post.

Yes, I just quoted myself.

Score one for my ego.

Moving on….

We assign values to cardinal points beyond a measure of relative position. In the West the North also means Winter, but it is associated with Xmas, the correct/true path (the French Fluer-de-lis is a common image that marks North on maps and compasses and stood for the French crown) and wealth (the Rich North vs. the Poor South). Interesting that while in the U.S. the South is associated with backwardness, poverty and heat (not only the rural South but everything South of the Border) in England it is the opposite. Even when we talk about oceans the North/South axis comes into play (cold violent Northern Atlantic versus placid warm South Pacific although the North Pacific and the South Atlantic both have as violent weather as the North Atlantic). And of course it can be as cold in the Southern Hemisphere as it can be hot in the North, due to the way the Earth rotates on it’s own axis.

East and West also hold meaning. The East is tied to the rising of the Sun, so it brings renewal, heat and light. It is a symbol of new beginnings and Spring. It is also symbolized the foreign, the strange, as in the Orient. Ironically, the values of East and West are tied to politics and European geography, since from the Americas, the directions are reversed (Europe lies to the East, Asia to the West). The West is a symbol of the familiar, the civilized, the modern and collectively used to describe the so called First World (even if so called Western nations do not always exist within the classic definition of the West).  East and West are also areas of adventure, far-away lands to be explored.

When we invoke the cardinal points in our fiction, we do more than just say “Here be Dragons.” Whether we want to or not these terms come pre-loaded with all manner of meanings which are triggered by a single word.

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Today I bring you something different, from our friend Amy who loves this artist and I thought it fit both the season and the post. Ludovico EinaudiNuvole Bianchi. Enjoy!

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