Saturday, April 7, 2012

Are we Sheep?

Somewhere in the ethnic and cultural swirl that makes up my household this item appeared in my basement. On the surface, it seems like an innocent Easter basket decoration from a bygone era. One of those seasonal toys made before rules and guidelines about sharp edges and chilling imagery. I have no idea how old this relic is. I can only be certain that it is a specifically Catholic piece of iconography. A sheep with a distinctly human face is not an outdated idea (think Pixar) but let's admit that by modern standards this is pretty creepy. The first time I saw it I thought it was going to come to life and ask me a riddle.

Am I overreacting? Sure. You'll have to forgive my extemporaneous use of psychology. Unfortunately, I see it everywhere. If I'm looking for a can of Tomato Bisque in the supermarket I am actively aware that I am cognitively engaging in a feature search (I digress).

What struck me about this object was the cultural aspect of the tribal animalism. Easter is probably our most pagan of holidays specifically because of all of the symbols of nature and fertility intermingled with the mythos of a magical super-intelligent lagomorpha. Next was the psychology of human identification with the lamb: a metaphor ridden animal of biblical proportions (see what I did there?) The subliminal message here is simple, and haunting:

It's a sheep
It's a person
I'm a person
I'm a sheep

They are priming us to identify with a herd animal. One that blindly goes wherever it is led, even to its own death. By doing so, we are reminded of our place in the narrative.

Be passive.
Move with the herd
Obey the authority without question. 

Obey me!


Steve said...

Didn't you show that to me last year and I explicitly stated to kill it with fire?

Unknown said...

It looks like something from a Clive Barker/Todd MacFarlane collaboration. I agree, kill it with fire.

Adam said...

It has already haunted my family for generations. Fire may bring it to life.

WalterKnaub said...

it looks like it was already skinned. but the eyes are still those of an Aryan. There is no part of this that is ok.