DNA and Christ to Coke


Listening to Start the Week, centred on books about the British Empire. Jeremy Paxman said that British assumptions about the Empire are part of our “genetic” makeup (or words to that affect). It is common to say that some cultural (i.e. acquired) trait is in our DNA. In one way, this is a very sloppy way of speaking and thinking – as if there is an “Empire” gene – but in other it testifies to the way that major iconic symbols become so malleable that they serve as parts of speech in a way that they loose their original specificities of meaning. The images in Christ to Coke (including the double helix) do this repeatedly. We commonly speak of a “quantum leap” to signal a massive (often conceptual change), when a quantum is actually a minimal quantity involved in a reaction. A quantum leap occurs, for example, when an electron  appears to jump instantaneously across different energy levels. Something very quick and very tiny has come to mean something very big.

The BBC story – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-15197613  – which is very nicely set up, gives the impression that I am saying my 11 examples are the most famous of all. In fact I am providing what bid fair to be the most famous examples of 11 TYPES of iconic iconic image. However, of the book stimulates a parlour game of the top ten across all types, that’s fine.