Monday, February 28, 2011

Base Interpretations: Scarlet and Scarlet

One of the traditions that we have at Wabash is so simple that it’s often overlooked, our school colors. Scarlet and scarlet are our official colors, but we often pair our scarlet with white, probably for the sake of avoiding redundancy. The school colors were not chosen at random, but rather, to signify something. Red is traditionally associated with things like aggression and passion, as well as blood, anger, and courage, but also as a warning sign in nature, both on animals and in old sayings such as “red sky at morning, sailors take warning.” Regardless of what was intended when the colors were chosen, however, a poststructuralist would deem their relevance insignificant. Really, what is a color other than a color, anyway? In reality, the color and its association with Wabash is only significant because of what significance we place on it, there is no intimidation if we don’t say there is, there is no aggression or passion, unless we deem it so. True, the colors aren’t exactly text, but the point is the same as if scarlet were so. One excellent illustration of our own signification that holds no relevance anywhere else is if we were to wear school colors off campus. True, many Crawfordsville residents would probably associate our colors with the college and their connotations of a Wabash man, but I think that you would be hard pressed to find anyone in Maine who would see a guy in a red shirt and would think, “Wow, he goes to Wabash, an all male college of the liberal arts that has a reputation for scholarly and athletic excellence.” It is literally impossible to find someone who carries our connotations of the color scarlet with that of Wabash unless someone has been exposed to our circle. Our ideas of our colors are fragile and relevant only to ourselves, in no way shape or form a universal signifier.

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