The thing about travel is that you pass in and out of what Wittgenstein called “language games” – hermetic zones of meaning that make sense only to the people who inhabit that domain. The meaning of a red light, a set of chopsticks, a woman running for president carry the power to resonate in a brain or else mystify. For those who exist and enter from outside the language game, the image of a man in a sequined jacket hiding a sword behind a red cape as a bull charges with brio, might have little significance . . . other than, say, impending danger – one way or the other.
To varying degrees this is the point I am always reminded of on my peripatetic journeys. Passing in and out of spaces to which I am not a permanent party I encounter scores of symbols, acts, interactions, objects, dramas about which I often have to scratch my head and ask: “so, what doesthat
Which is what I had to do, passing through California a couple of months ago. It was Olympic season and it seemed that I couldn’t turn on the tube without running into this advertisement: