Monday, March 01, 2010

A Latino's Obsession with the swastika

The swastika is beautiful isn’t it? If the title of this post did not mention my ethnicity, you would probably have guessed that I am a white supremacist, klan member, skinhead, and anything else derogatory the swastika conjures. Indeed, I am a Hispanic, born in Puerto Rico, subject to the hatred perpetrated by these groups of people. The swastika represents everything I am against, and yet, I’m in love with it. I find it...beautiful.

I get goose bumps whenever I come across the swastika. The kind of goose bumps you get when you are inspired by a good story or work of art; when you are atop high mountains looking over a valley; when a boy or girl you like looked your way during your junior high days. The swastika carries a sense of power and authority. It represents order and stability and the hope for utopia. At a 45 degree angle, the swastika is spontaneous, maybe even a bit rebellious. Though it respects authority and tradition, it will also question it. It is progressive.

Is the swastika black ink on a piece of white paper or white ink on a black piece of paper? Perhaps it is negative space that molds the form of the swastika as a potter molds the clay. What is it about the symbol that makes it a square and circle simultaneously? Why does it seem like it’s moving like propellers on an airplane when it’s flat on a poster or flag?

If I were ever charged to develop an identity/brand for God, the swastika would be the perfect solution. Omnipotence, transcendence, immanence, and authority can all be communicated through this logo. Of course, for the logo to be positively received by the public, it must be stripped from its tarnished reputation—a task, I am afraid, which will prove to be unsuccessful at least in my lifetime.

Most people are unfamiliar with the origins of the swastika. Believe it or not, the swastika predated Hitler and Nazism. It was not conceived by, as Hitler purported, an ancient elite Indo-European people dubbed as the Ayrian race.

The swastika has been in existence for thousands of years and used, ironically, by many cultures and races. The Chinese, Greeks, Hindus, Persians, Bhudhists, Hebrews, Native Americans, to name a few, all made use of the swastika. Although today the swastika has come to convey hatred and atrocity, at one point it was believed to be a symbol of goodness, peace, fertility. To some cultures, it was the symbol of the gods.

It is very unfortunate that the swastika, a symbol and logo that I have come to love, will forever be accompanied by one of the darkest histories of mankind. To use it in an application other than scholarly work would be considered highly offensive and in Germany illegal.

Regardless of the now pervasive derogatory connotations conveyed by the swastika, I still find the symbol as one of most brilliant, iconic, and beautiful graphic marks of all time.

No comments: