Mouth and Gate/Door (symbols)

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by Julie H, Jun 10, 2017.

  1. I should have titled it 'Mouths and Gates/Doors' but mouths has such a nasty sound ... I like mouth much better.



    "Every slug, insect and higher animal has a mouth," an author has noted (Ackerman). And no matter how sexy, the human mouth is primarily the instrument of eating; even its role in lovemaking has the quality of a sensual devouring of the lover.

    ... But the mouth participates in both poles of the spectrum, for all these parts [tongue, lips, teeth, cheeks, throat, saliva, etc.] also have a role in one of the most sophisticated aspects of human life, the precision of language. Moreover, the mouth carries breath, as life, spirit, soul, word, creation.

    ... It is the engulfing jaws of death, however, that give us the most terrifying images of the mouth. The gigantic Cyclops of Homer's The Odyssey gulps down Odysseus' men, ripping their bodies apart at he eats them.

    ... One of the first signs of mythic transformation into bestial were-animals is that the mouth changes, the jaw becoming heavier and larger, the teeth sharp and fanged. — The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images

    Iconographically it is depicted throughout the world either as the jaws of a monster or as the lips of an angel and can as easily be the Gates of Hell as the Doors of Paradise. — The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols



    Gates beckon: "Come in!" says the beautiful gate ... . But they can also bar us and convey "no admittance!" Gates stand between here and there, between the known and the unknown. At a psychological level, gates are found between the inner world and the outer, between sleeping and waking: we labor to bring a half-remembered dream through the gateway between sleep and the daylight.

    ... In our everyday world, gates and doors protect the house and the life of the family from strangers. Cities and nations erect gates and barriers at their borders.

    ... The gate-doorway is a dangerous and numinous place, rich in protective rituals and superstitions. Offerings and prayers are made, shoes are removed before entering. A bride is carried over the threshold. — The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images

    Gateways symbolize the scene of passing from one state to another, from one world to another, from the know to the unknown, from light to darkness. Doors open upon the mysterious, but they have a dynamic psychological quality for they not only indicate a threshold but invite us to cross it. It is an invitation to a voyage into the beyond. — The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols


  2. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    fascinating photo there Julie. i can't see any resemblance to a recognisable orifice (mouth, anus, ear) or a gateway. i don't see anything pleasurable or enticing about that hole at all
  3. Good! :)
  4. Atget has many great pictures of doors and entrances but only one of a door-mouth ( LINK ), the facade of café L'enfer which was a hell themed café / cabaret in Monmartre. Robert Doisneau also took one of that facade and its entrance to hell ( you can see the doors have been changed ) while what looks like a police officer is walking by and almost being swallowed up ( LINK ).
  5. ^ These aren't really meant to be seen together like that. The left picture of the door loses some of its ambiguity by being 'contaminated' by the right picture with the EXIT sign ( EXIT doors that are only meant to be used in cases of emergency have a separate symbology to them than what normal doors symbolize, while also still falling under the general symbology of 'door' ) and the image on the painting. The right picture doesn't really need the visualisation of a door that's pointed to, it's already implied by the sign and we can imagine it. Nevertheless, there's something going on between the two images when seen together. I want to enter the door on the left but not in the way the image on the right tells me to.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2017
  6. The clashing angles are good. The cruciform on the left door works with/against the knotted figure. I really like the turtle-ish thing nosing into the right side of the figure on the right. I can't decide what I think of the rumpled fat arrow-ish horizontal thing on the lower left side of the left picture. It seems to be pulling the door back and down; or it's warning the figure not to go there, but to go away.
  7. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    to me, reading Phil's images right to left gives us a different scenario. the door gives a glimpse of freedom for the entrapped soul. the emergency exit sign and ledge a stepping stone to safety.
  8. The turtle-ish thing is a hand holding a piece of paper. Of course in the photograph it can be anything, like a...turtle-ish thing. Here's a Ralph Gibson diptych, a door and a mouth. I've always liked that door image of his with the hand peering out: LINK.
  9. It's definitely turtlish! See its lower jaw and upturned nostrils ...

    I just realized that the thing the figure is standing on, which I took for a whirlpool, is in fact a big thumb or toe. I don't approve of big toes in my artful analyses so I will ignore that.

    Norman, what do you think of the skull that's biting the figure on the leg? Skullduggery?

    Classic Gibson in your linked picture ...

    His angles are in harmony, which is in keeping with his wanting the pictures to mesh.
  10. What draws me in mostly is that sliver of light in the small door opening. I want to ENTER the doorway and space behind it rather than EXITING from where I am which the other picture's connotation urges me to do so.

    Do you mean the abstract form in the right upper corner of the painting with the figure? Which indeed also looks like a turtle thing with a small eye. I was looking for something turtle-ish and could only find that part of a hand holding a piece of paper in the other painting.
  11. No, I meant the paper/hand that I resent having to actually admit I *can* see now that you ruined my delusion. :) But since you point it out, yes!! there is a second turtle! We love turtles ...

    The other (serious) thing worth noticing in comparing your lit door to Gibson's is where it puts the viewer. Yours is uncertain. I feel I'm somewhere in midair and I'm not sure if I'm coming or going. Gibson's seems to me to put me squarely on the floor going toward the door. If you take a plain vanilla lit-door cliché shot like this:


    ... it puts the viewer outside the door wondering what's inside. Reverse the lighting or tinker with the relative inside/outside lightness and it tinkers with the door-ness.
  12. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    the b'stard skull should be kicked back down the dark, dank hole from where it came.

    (wouldn't it be terrible if the skull then pursued the creature into the enlightened room, contaminating everything)
  13. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    i do like the passage of play from hole(mouth) to doorway. very well put together.

  14. LOL

    I think Phil has been waiting for us dummies to notice that he has provided us with a (biting) mouth and a door.

    [Now I'm seeing an octopus on the figure's head and a dark rooster — facing right, coming off the figure's right shoulder. There's also a dove in the left picture, flying away from the left side of the door.]
  15. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Moderator Staff Member

  16. Sandy, I think you've given us Plato's cave.
  17. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Moderator Staff Member

    Closer than you know in both spirit and usage. Actually, Frank's Kiva as in FLW.
    DavidTriplett likes this.
  18. Physical doorways, as in the samples cited above, imply a man-made, intentional element. In Architecture, doorways, even more so than windows, are explicitly humanizing elements. They can invite entry equally to the degree they facilitate escape, depending on circumstance. Scale can imply non-human access, whether relating to the spiritual, as in the pyramids, or the monumental, as in certain Roman temples. In all cases, doorways both provide and imply a portal, the passage through which brings about a change in condition. The very existence of a doorway provides a sense of accessibility and opportunity for change, while the absence of a doorway precludes access or change. For example, in this image of Anasazi ruins at Hovenweap National Monument, the structures are clearly fortified, and no doorway is visible. While, intellectually, we know there must be an entry of some kind, we are not privy to it, are excluded.
    Contrast this with the next image, of the same two structures, but this time with the doorways visible. There is no new information about these structures available from this view, except that we can now see the doorways. And, even though the doorways are clearly in highly protected and nearly inaccessible locations, the mere fact that we can see them, and are visually certain of their existence, makes both of these buildings much more human and comprehensible.
    Doorways as seen in art are equally significant.

  19. ... or not. See the Jewish Museum in Berlin:

    Even though Libeskind’s extenstion appears as its own separate building, there is no formal exterior entrance to the building. In order to enter the new museum extension one must enter from the original Baroque museum in an underground corridor. A visitor must endure the anxiety of hiding and losing the sense of direction before coming to a cross roads of three routes. [from ArchDaily]​


    The visitor enters the Baroque Kollegienhaus and then descends by stairway through the dramatic Entry Void, into the underground. The existing building is tied to the new extension, through the underground, thus preserving the contradictory autonomy of both the old and new structures on the surface. The descent leads to three underground axial routes, each of which tells a different story. The first leads to a dead end – the Holocaust Tower. The second leads out of the building and into the Garden of Exile and Emigration, remembering those who were forced to leave Berlin The third and longest, traces a path leading to the Stair of Continuity, then up to the exhibition spaces of the museum, emphasizing the continuum of history.

    A Void cuts through the zigzagging plan of the new building and creates a space that embodies absence. It is a straight line whose impenetrability becomes the central focus around which exhibitions are organized. In order to move from one side of the museum to the other, visitors must cross one of the 60 bridges that open onto this void. [from the Libeskind web site]​

    See how it works, in picures, here.

Share This Page