Scruton on Icons, Brands, the Sacred, and the Profane

Roger Scruton is one of my favorite writers on aesthetics.  In this piece, he discusses a new book on icons, “From Christ to Coke: How Image Becomes Icon,” by Martin Kemp.  Perhaps channeling a little Mircea Eliade, Scruton writes that the difference between icons and brands is in the “sacredness” of the object.  A bit from the essay below.  — MOD (x-posted MOJ)

Things become sacred when sacrifices on behalf of the community have been distilled in them, as the sacrifices of generations of soldiers, sailors and airmen are distilled in the American flag. And sacred things are invitations to sacrifice, as is the flag in time of war. Sacred things create bridges across generations: they tell us that the dead and the unborn are present among us, and that their “real presence” lives in each of us, and each of us in it. The decline of religion has deprived us of sacred things. But it has not deprived us of the need for them. Nor has it deprived us of the acute sense of desecration we feel, when facetious images intrude at the places once occupied by these visitors from the transcendental.

One response

  1. Sacred images may also invoke the refusal to sacrifice, the liberation of the individual spirit from the authorities of the past. Sacred images may be iconoclastic as well as iconic. Witness the bitten apple that is the logo of the world’s foremost computer (and many other things) company.

    Jeffrey Shulman
    Georgetown Law

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