The Language of Images

Fear not, beloved SL4N fans, another comic is coming soon, but today I need to talk about something less silly.

Specifically, I want to tell you some thoughts I had about the language of images. Almost everyone has heard the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Have you ever thought what that could mean to your spiritual life? Allow me to enlighten you, but first a quick picture.

Visual stimulus is not a one-way street.

As an artist I have become increasingly aware of how important it is to pay attention to what you feed your mind. I have always known from my time as a child that if you hang around people who swear a lot, or listen to music with such crude language that sooner or later those same words you were taught never to say will come out of your mouth again. What we put into our heads will come back out again, whether we like it or not. “…the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, unchastity, theft, false witness, blasphemy. These are what defile a person…” Matt 15:18-20

But how do such things come to be inside of us? Easy, we put them there. It’s only natural then for these things to come popping back out at the worst possible moments. And as I was thinking about this tonight, it occurred to me that the same is true for other kinds of things we can feed our mind with. Not just speech, but seeing as well. Visual things are a language all their own, but many people don’t think about this because they don’t “speak” that language, they only “hear” it.

As an artist I speak the language of images, and I know all too well what will happen if I feed my mind with filth. When I willingly fill my mind with images of violence, or pornography, or banality, or uglyness, I see it come right back out again when I pick up the pen. More importantly, it clutters my imagination. The imagination is an extremely powerful and wonderful gift, and in my experience, is one of the best ways for God to talk to you in prayer. Ever done lectio divina? You probably already know just how hard it can be to really dive deeply into the stories of scripture when all you can think about is that really crazy movie you watched last night. The works of Christ suddenly fall before the glamorous violence and sensuality of the visual food we feed to our own minds.

This is not to say that media is somehow evil, but it’s a wakeup call that we need to start paying attention to what we feed our minds and hearts. As an artist at the service of the Church, I am going to try my hardest to keep close tabs on feeding of my mind, so that I can produce good fruit for your entertainment. 🙂


About arfink

I am nerdy. Catholic. Artsy. And a real-life, fer-sure, darn-tootin philosophy major. You may now make jokes at my expense. Thank you.

Posted on July 16, 2012, in Catholic. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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