Friday, January 25, 2013

Another Brick in the Wall

This is an old market place entrance in the spectacular ruins of Ostia Antica, near Rome. They had some fine buildings in these days and I was reminded of a Geordie friend in England. He was very keen on bricks as a product and he would say "Ye canna find better than a brick, man." He would certainly have liked Ostia because it's almost completely composed of that narrow Roman brick. Symbolically, bricks have their place beside stone. The interesting thing here is that stone is a more powerful symbol where it remains uncut. But bricks are very much constructed - a sign of urbanisation, putting down roots and having a house and land. Not surprising then, that there was a God of Bricks! The Akkadian Empire was located in what we came to know as Babylon, and it reached a peak around 2300 BC. The Akkadian's creator Marduk invented the brick and built a town. The Brick God was called Kula, himself made from the primordial mud of the River Apsu. Kula then supervised the building of temples - made from bricks of course. So bricks are a gift from God. Symbols are ambivalent and often hard to pin down. We call someone a "brick" when that individual is regarded an all-round good person. But recently we might suffer "another brick in the wall" - a metaphor used by band Pink Floyd to refer to the negative  role of education in promoting conformity and compliance.