As I walked a lap at Jackson Township Park this morning—crystalline Indian Summer—I reflected on the image of the baseball field within the circuit, and it occurred to me that it presented itself as an icon to my eye. Not simply a pleasing image in the flagrantly gorgeous morning slants of autumn sun, but an image that—if not demanding or even requiring interpretation—seemed at the least to yield some kind of interpretation to the receptive eye.
I have long held that the images presented solely by nature, exempt of human constructions, are the inevitable and incessant sources of human meaning via the process in which they create metaphors for the human mind to assimilate however consciously or subconsciously. Very likely it is true of the man-made objects as well that we perceive every day—such as ballfields—that they too can become icons as we absorb them into our understanding. Like the original iconography of artistic creation in the Middle Ages—so important to a medievalist’s understanding of the art, mostly religious, of that time period—we have our own expanded canon to work with on the path toward understanding our values.
In other words, just as we have nearly lost the medieval layman’s seemingly intuitive, but actually culture-based, understanding of the “meaning” of a work of medieval art—so, we today probably ignore for the most part the iconic character of the baseball field. And it is certain that a person from a culture with no experience of baseball would be understandably nonplussed or mildly puzzled by the image of that playing field.
Nevertheless, a person imbued with our cultural experience of baseball and its playing fields can deconstruct all the signs—the grass, the intermingled dirt, the bases, the backstop, empty stands, dugout and all the rest—can make much of this image’s moment in time on a timeless fall day.
Or, one can let go—half-created, but scarcely observed.