Symbolic Redundancy (Does Jesus pray the Rosary?)

There is a section in Rose Hill Cemetery that is predominately Latino. The graves in this area are heavily adorned with plants, artificial flowers, candles dedicated to a variety of saints and a multitude of cast plaster statues. Here, a man hard up for a drink can scavenge for very aged bottles of the dearly departed’s favorite beer or tequila that lay sun-bleached amidst the headstones. As you can tell from the photos I’ve posted the last few days, I enjoy the photographic opportunities such grave adornments can provide.

Occasionally, I will come across something that inspires relevant or irrelevant introspection and pondering. Such was the case when I encountered a concrete Jesus holding a rosary. Not being a Catholic, I found myself stuck on the apparent symbolic and theological redundancy of this ornamentation. Some 25 years ago or so, I read and was completely fascinated by Umberto Eco’s sometimes unnerving observations in “Travels in Hyperreality”. I surmised the author would have had much to say regarding this present example of our ability to artificially augment artificial augmentations replicating or defining reality.

"Symbolic Redundancy" [Click the image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D800, ISO 200, f/5.3 at 1/30 sec., 93mm

“Symbolic Redundancy” [Click the image for an enlarged view.] Nikon D800, ISO 200, f/5.3 at 1/30 sec., 93mm
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2 comments

  1. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve ever read by Umberto Eco; now I must find “Travels in Hyperreality”. If you found it ‘unnerving’, I’m sure I will find it thought-provoking or at least ‘nerving’. No one has yet dissuaded me from the belief that reality is just fantasy plus advertising.

    I was raised Roman Catholic to save some other child from that fate, so please allow me to explain this symbolism: Jesus holding a rosary (actually, his mother Mary should be holding it, since it’s her special weapon against the forces of evil: there are ten small beads requiring a ‘Hail Mary’ for every larger one requiring an ‘Our Father’ to be said) is telling you to SAY IT! A rosary also can double as a garrote if you’re involved in some dark Vatican conspiracy.

    I’m enjoying your cemetery series (even if I can’t look at “Touched By a Toy” again yet – it’s just too sad). Speaking of cemeteries… have you ever pursued night photography, infrared, or other tricksy special effects?

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    1. Thanks for the detailed explanation… I think. Your belief that reality is essentially fantasy plus advertising is spot on with Umberto Eco’s thinking and premise for the book. I, too, am a fan of everything of his that I have read. Even his name is kind of fun.
      I used to do quite a bit of infrared film photography and am toying with the idea of having my old Nikon D200 digital modified for infrared, but it’s not a cheap modification (about $425 locally – more than the camera is worth) so I’ve put it off. Night photography is something you will soon see more of on the blog.
      As always, thank you for your comments.

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