Given the enormous resonance of the Smiley Face, I thought I would share the research I've done into it, and add another interesting clue to the mix. I highly doubt any of this has anything to do with the Midwest killings per se, but it does add a semiotic charge to the issue.
One of the most ubiquitous symbols on the face of the planet is the yellow smiley face icon. It has become almost completely omnipresent by its adoption by the retailing giant Wal-Mart and by internet giants America Online and Yahoo for their instant messaging software. The icon was originally created in 1963 by a Worcester, Mass graphic artist named Harvey Ball. He was commissioned by the State Mutual Insurance Co. to design a button for employees to wear to improve morale. Two merchandisers named the Spain Brothers came across the icon in 1969 and used it for their line of junk (T-shirts, posters, greeting cards and such). From there the icon entered the mass consciousness and became a symbol of the so-called “Me Generation” in the 1970’s.
There has been some debate over who originally created the smiley face, but the idea of a yellow disk with a smiling or benevolent face emblazoned upon it is- of course- an ancient symbol of Sun Worship. You can find examples of it everywhere through history.
The interesting thing to note here is that American Online- the company most responsible for making the smiley face more common than the cross- uses a stylized All-Seeing Eye as their corporate logo. Another interesting aspect to the AOL logo is that the first "A" lies outside the pyramid shape created by "Online." This reminds me of Knight and Lomas' theory that the name "America" comes from the ancient Babylonian name for the land of the dead, "Merica."
And the company who originally brought the modern smiley face into the world- State Mutual- has changed their name to the Hanover Insurance Group. Their new logo is breathtaking to anyone remotely familiar with Solar iconography. It incorporates a pyramid, a stylized hawk or eagle and a solar disk, all in one handy image.
Another interesting aspect to the Hanover logo that I just noticed is that if remove the top section of the pyramid using the bird's beak as the cutoff point, you are left with the letter Q...
...which is the 17th letter of the alphabet. So we have four Horus signifiers- the pyramid, the eagle, the Sun disk and a hidden 17. This serves to make the Solar significance of the smiley face even more potent.
A lot of readers have left comments with very interesting and compelling theories on the exact significance of all this Sun symbolism we are seeing now. It's very possible that all of them are correct; that they are seeing different facets of the whole. The Sun makes all life on this planet possible, and ultimately we are all made of it. Its beauty and power and magnificence is something all reasonable people can agree on.
That being said, I still can't shake the suspicion that there is a different meaning behind all of this to some of the higher initiate groups and societies. Or the feeling that this explosion of solar symbolism we are seeing has a message we have yet to understand. I think something is being said here, I just don't know yet what it is. I'll be taking another look next week at "30 Rock" in an effort to try to figure out what that might be.
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