Saturday, April 4

Anthropological Motherhood: Signs of Order

Field Study
Flagstaff, AZ ~ Spring Break 2009

When humans get together, they tend to organize themselves into some type of power structure. Families have organized boundaries designed to protect the marriage and the children within the unit. All major life events (coming of age, marriage, birth, death, etc.) are supervised within a well defined pattern the larger community has established for everyone else. There are rules of conduct within the society whereby one learns his place, what to expect by way of protection or governance from his superiors, and what (if any) latitude is afforded the individual who desires to acquire status within the group.

In a literate society, there is a tendency to exploit the authority of the few over the many by means of the posted regulatory sign. Standard issue of these types of signs customarily include reference to the particular law or statute under which placement of the sign is merited. This often serves to give due emphasis to the law, and serve as a threat to the potential violator. In this case, the random placement of differently colored letters may answer as an alternative form of intimidation. Personally, I appreciate the lone exclamation mark, and the curious omission of any other punctuation.Its voice, however, is not respected.

Meteor Crater, AZ
Emboldened by our illegal snowball fight in Flagstaff, we encountered yet another distressing temptation to tickle fate:
Yours truly was not the only wanton trespasser:This "window" view of the San Francisco Peaks from the crater visitor's center is worthy of a sign of some sort. If it had a sign, the Scandinavian and Korean tourists might not have ignored it as they did when we were observing.The crater itself is totally awesome, and each observation deck and telescope appropriately appointed with numerous signs to alert us to what we were looking at, size and distance relationships (which are difficult to judge due to the enormity of the pit), and of course the names and condensed bios of significant benefactors to the establishment of the meteor crater visitor's center and protected status of the site.

Parts Unknown:
Small segments of society often assume more authority than is reasonable in an effort to regulate others, human or not. We may assume signage might also be a means of rejecting the establishment all together:

Our Neighborhood:
Posting signs presumably for safety's sake is often an oxymoron.Street name signs may in fact reflect a societal break-down at the core. This city planner should have taken a personal day before establishing this one. I feel to say, "No Way!"
"Way."Anywhere, World:
Other signs are loaded with meaning and pathos without the need to spell a single word.

Their welcome appearance serves to handily regulate and organize society with an efficiency that humbles even the most powerful among us.


Cynthia said...

Meteor Crater? That was my hometown's claim to fame! Our H.S. Yearbook was the "Meteor" and our High School Dance team was the "Meteorettes". Sadly, I guess my parents assumed we would visit the crater on some grade school field trip, but no. I never visited it until I had moved away from Winslow and was married. It was only about 15 minutes away from where I grew up.
Anyway . . . funny signs. I love the 'Private Sign' sign. I am a true believer in obeying signs. Dave? not so much. He takes them as suggestions, at best. We drove through a "road closed" sign and when the police stopped us, our very little children (who were old enough to realize we had done something against the rules) started in - "Daddy's going to jail!"

Anonymous said...

You're kidding! I was all confused in my mental map of AZ on this last road trip. I didn't realize Winslow was so close to Flagstaff; I keep assuming Flagstaff is much more West than it is. If you were the Meteorettes, what was the image on your uniforms???

I have always wanted to see Meteor Crater. As for school field trips, I know what you mean. My whole life in CA we lived about 45 min. from a mini-SeaWorld place called "Marine Land". But I had never been. When we found out we were moving to AZ, my mom decided we should finally go. It was one of our best memories. Think lush CA gardens and interesting exhibits W/O tons of people and long lines for expensive crap. No one was there! We stayed for about an hour at the whale exhibit on the other side of the glass wall listening to them sound off to each other. It was like a Free Willy moment or something. A couple years later I heard it went out of business, and now all that's left is the megalopolis of gag-me expensive, super commercialized SeaWorld.

Anonymous said...

Unbelievable: Feeling nostalgic for "Marineland of the Pacific", look at this! Sea World bought it out and then closed it down! Jerks!

Yaj said...

Wow, out west they have to tell you where to walk? In the east, people are told where to go, but not necessarily with signs.

I saw the private sign, but being private I didn't read it. What did it say?