Sunday, March 05, 2006

2006: The Year of the Icon

2006: The Year of the Icon

The more observant amongst you may well have noticed a new section amongst the various DA links. Have you seen it? No? Well go and look and don't come back until you have.

Are you back now? Yes, that's right there's the new DA Icons section. And I really couldn't put it in without commenting properly on it, not least because it throws up some questions. The biggest of these (other than 'have you lost your marbles?') is undoubtedly - what is a DA Icon?

When I chose the people who currently make the list (which is not yet complete as I just haven't had the time to find websites for them all) there were a few minor specifications. Firstly they had to have appeared in DA in some way, shape or form. Nice and easy that one. Secondly they had to be iconic within the terms of DA. Which is much more waffly and hard to define. I think the major point here is that not all of the people on the list are icons in the big wide world away from DA (injustly so in my opinion) and just because someone isn't on the list doesn't mean that they're not an icon. There are indeed lots of people I consider iconic who won't make the list simply because I've never been moved to blog about them.

To help us along maybe we should use the great fallback of all English students - looking the definition up in a dictionary. Obviously I would go to the OED - the gold standard by which I judge all words - but as I'm no longer blogging on their internet system I no longer get free access (again, unjustly so in my opinion, especially given that I'm a one woman promotional circus for them). So I used google:

1. also i-kon (kn)
a. An image; a representation.
b. A representation or picture of a sacred or sanctified Christian personage, traditionally used and venerated in the Eastern Church.

2. An important and enduring symbol: "Voyager will take its place ... alongside such icons of airborne adventure as The Spirit of St. Louis and [the] Bell X-1" William D. Marbach.

3. One who is the object of great attention and devotion; an idol: "He is ... a pop icon designed and manufactured for the video generation" Harry F. Waters.

4. Computer Science A picture on a screen that represents a specific file, directory, window, option, or program.

It is probably safe to say that we can discount meaning 4; unless, that is, someone has a computer icon of Sienna Boho Princess that they'd like to give me. The closest fit is clearly number 3, but when I say icon I'm undoubtedly evoking the ghosts of definitions 1 and 2. For example when I mention Byron (who seems to be getting a heck of a lot of blogging time at the moment) I'm not just evoking the man but everything he represents. All of you readers are bringing your own impressions and associations of Byron to the party - he's a cipher, a symbol as well as an idol. And if you were to doubt the quasi-religious nature of my devotion to Byron then you should have seen me on my pilgrimage to Newstead last summer.

So, in basic terms, DA Icons have to meet definition 3, and a significant number also fit with 1 and 2 (though the vast majority of these are, it has to be said, dead). Possibly most importantly they have to contribute to DA. Not in the literal way that all my guest bloggers did back in January. But in a way that DA has constructed a little bit of the way that you think of them, or they have certain associations on here that they maybe don't have elsewhere. There are some people on the list - such as Sienna B-P or Byron or Ginny - that I can't imagine DA without. There are others who have crept up in certain entries - such as Richard Curtis or David Hare - a reference point for my experience. Others - such as John Barrowman recently and Paddy Marber this time last year - have had intense periods of blog interest without (yet) making the major league of the Siennas and Byrons of the DA world. But they are all part of DA's fabric.

At the moment I've kept my icons to actual people (thus ruling out two of DA's great fictional icons - Gatsby and Severus Snape - not to mention a couple of iconic places - specifically Evil Eye, The Bedford and The Globe) but that may change when I eventually work through all of the people who - at this stage - I think should be on the list. Once the list is complete I'll be - intermittently - blogging a DA guide to each icon (which should keep me going through those days in the next few months when I've not done anything stupid enough to blog about). And, because I'm nice and like to keep up the pretence that DA isn't a totalitarian regime, I'd like to hear either suggestions for people who should make the list on DA or people who would make your list if you were to create one.


Nik said...

Stop making blog entries that inspire blog entries on my part, I have enough to blog already :P

cat said...

I started to put together a list of my own personal icons, and I began to worry...

what does this collection say to you?

Audrey Hepburn, Karen Carpenter, Dusty Springfield, Baz Luhrmann, Orlando Bloom, Johnny Depp, Tim Burton, Julianne Moore...

could it be that I really am a gay man trapped inside the body of a woman?

Nik said...

nah, can't be. you have no gaydar :P

cat said...

I have amazing gaydar actually, I just never realise that it is gaydar!! :P