Top ten most cryptic and esoteric new emoji
The new emoji are upon us. Old Media Is Dead has the exclusive low-down on the top ten most cryptic and esoteric new emoji, using a ranking system that is as cryptic and esoteric as the runes at hand.
10. The upside-down smiley face is a farce, a mocking corruption of the "life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness" ideal we are all brain-washed into embodying. Use this emoji with care, as in it are contained the seeds that will someday bring down the fascist demesne to which we are all subjugants.
9. The delicately-named "classical building," of course, refers to the Parthenon and the hidden knowledges that were lost to modern society. The cult of Athena, who we now know conducted their affairs in an oubliette hidden beneath the Acropolis, constituted an early version of the secret oligarchy that steered zeitgeists according to their own whims within the Grecian precursor to Western Democracy. This symbol also invokes, more generally, architecture of the Ionic order which features prominently in the present-day US Capitol—beyond which a more wretched hive of scum and villainy cannot be imagined. This emoji can be effectively utilized during after-class beers, when you are texting under the table about the corruption of Big Government while your peers debate splitting either the nachos or houmous spread while Craig maintains that he shouldn't have to contribute to the whole bill if he only has one or two nachos before going home and warming up the leftover gnocchi he's been saving since he went on that date last weekend. C'mon, Craig.
8. The scorpion is a nod to ascendant Scorpios, those blessed enough to be born under Saturn rising, and the powers of deceit and manipulation granted to them by their birthright. Ascendant Scorpio use subtle forces of shadow and darkness to assert their presence. Their manner commands respect, and in some cases, fear. Scorpio rising people can be quiet or loud, but they always seem powerful and determined. The scorpion emoji also evokes the Ryan Gosling vehicle Drive, which had a pretty good soundtrack.
7. We have seen these chains before, and we have come to know the name by which they are called. Ayn Rand has said, "I believe in no God, no invisible man in the sky. But there is something more powerful than each of us, a combination of our efforts, a Great Chain of industry that unites us." Guided by the invisible hand of the market, we are all bound in the chain of commerce and consumption. Although we were taught in Jr High Social Studies to honour the concept of laissez-faire economic freedom, it is in fact a more malicious form of slavery whereby the confines of capitalism fetter us to our caste. Only by giving corporeal form to these invisible bonds, only by listening to the wind blow and watching the sun rise, can we ever break the chain. (That was a shoe-horned Fleetwood Mac reference fyi... they were a really good band... they had a great album in 1977, the year Star Wars came out for the first time... I still haven't watched the trailer for the new one... I guess I'm sort of scared... fwiw.)
6. The fog emoji is a reference to Walter Benjamin's call to "awaken" (metaphorically) from the sleeping fog of previous generations, and not a reference to the 1980 film or its 2005 box-office buster remake The Fog. This emoji is also one of the only synecdochal characters included in the weather section, in that its form is artificially constrained in the shape of a square: a portion of a thing used in place of its whole. A poor attempt at representing infinity through geometry. This sort of metonymical thinking is the same reason why we have generalizations, stereotypes, and war. If only we could describe the entirety of a thing, justly accounting for all of disparate facets, then we could have a truer form of egality. Although the fog emoji was originally going to take up the entire screen, transcending the iMessage bubble and clouding all of your phone with an epistemological uncertainty, it was reeled back due to cross-platform issues and is now a boring little square with mild transparency effects. But do not be deceived! Stay woke!
5. The black flag is the sign of the anarchists, who totally would've won our federal election if only we counted the non-votes of abstinent citizens as qualifiers in and of theirselves. The flag's defining characteristic is that it is black, which is a portentous colour that has been moralistically attributed in a negative way to lots of things in Western society. Perhaps it stands here, either absent of colour or containing all colours, as a sign of change: it is a oath for the future, an ongoing reclamation of everything that inconveniently stood in the way of the ruling hegemony on their ascension to power. Black is both the old black and the new black, everything else is relativistic and shall be subsumed by the isonomic revolution.
4. The crossed swords are a paradox, in one breath signifying a staid union and, in another, illustrating a clash or duel. Homogeneity and antagonism are dually at play here, perhaps drawing attention to the pitifulness of man's jealous conflict with his cis-brother (women don't do this). In tarot, the Two of Swords is a card of choice, articulating the difficulty of making a decision. In the Rider-Waite deck, the zwei Schwerter are wielded by a blind-folded oracle, speaking to the futility of life lived at a crossroads: we are constantly making choices without any prescience of the terror our decisions will wreak in some corner of a dark future. But then there are some scholars who have rappelled down from the shambles of their ivory tower to remind us that swords symbolize dicks.
3. The hole is a yonic relief to all of the phallic insecurities present in the previous entry. Here, we are made to imagine the Dragon's Throat, the abyssal doorway to eternal damnation. Apple could be finally confirming the controversial existence of Mel's Hole, a bottomless chasm in the Pacific Northwest that purportedly possesses the ability to spew forth eerie reanimations of all who fall into it. Farmers (the first line of defence for everything supernatural or extraterrestrial) have watched their dogs fall haplessly into the dark, only to return home days later, seemingly unchanged save for a ghostly shine that flits across their eyes. Mel's Hole is unseeable by Google Maps satellites because of its alleged proximity to an army base. What's it like to hold forever? I once asked the Hole. I don't know, it responded. Why don't you ask the sky?
2. There are some instances when language fails. For those instances, we have emoji. Here is the man in business suit levitating. I suspect Apple will roll out a levitating woman and levitating unisexual form with a full complement of levitating skin tones in the next iOS update. (NB: I am not someone who is aggressively cynical about political correctness! I fully support a kind and patient navigation of the disparate identities which one assumes or inhabits! I am just making a joke about the levitating man's sex and goldenrod-coloured flesh and trends in previous software updates which were regressively uncontinued here! May the patriarchy end in flames! Death to generality!)
1. The most cryptic and esoteric new emoji is the eye in a speech bubble. For the first time, Apple is beginning to use its proprietary semiotic language to explore the darker confluences of Saussure's sign and referent beyond mere object/concept dichotomies. While the originally-stated meaning of this emoji is not insignificant (that's a Peircean pun, y'all), this symbol, as with all symbols, adopts new meaning with insidious speed as the context changes. I see this in relation to the Three Wise Monkey emojis, whereby the monkeys take turns seeing no evil, hearing no evil, and speaking no evil. As an excoriation of the hominid morals, the talking eye advocates for a witnessing of evil, acknowledging the heady morass in which we are all complicit. SPEAK, says the eye, FOR FEAR OF A NAME INCREASES FEAR OF THE THING ITSELF.
For the runners-up to the most cryptic and esoteric new emoji (I insist that "emoji" is both singular and plural, omnipotent in its grammatical conception, just like LEGO; people who say "legos" are dirty sycophants), I have chosen the four emoji most likely to be encountered in an ancient catacomb hidden beneath the auspices of your local Mac's (soon to be Circle K) if you were a character in a SNES game cartridge. We have the old key, which is a definite improvement from the new key; the candle, perfect for using in conjunction with the book and bell to prepare a strong spell of exorcism; the single sword, which is better than the butcher knife emoji I had been using to initiate meet-ups with the Berlin expat LARP chapter; and the spiderweb, which is the sigil of both Arachne and Scarlet Johannson's character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, who is never directly referred to by her comic book name.
The most portentous emoji of all time, however, remains unseated by this new batch of arcane symbols. Nothing describes the doom foretold, that dread hand of fate, better than SOON.
Mr. Cottingham is the Culture Editor at Large for Old Media is Dead.