Featured Images, Symbols & Foresight Product: the Example of The Chronicles of Everstate

(updated 17 April 2012)

When an image is featured and is meant to represent the totality of a foresight or anticipatory product, or a large section of it, it must capture the gist of the product. Symbols and symbolism are then crucial to transmit messages. This importance of symbols should anyway be considered for any use of image (as well as when developing a scenario narrative, for example when choosing names). This will be exemplified here with the Chronicles of Everstate.

The drawing displayed for “The Chronicles of Everstate: foreseeing the future of the modern nation-state” is a detail of the frontispiece of the book Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes, Wikimedia Commons.

The image aims at capturing symbolically the features of the contemporary (early 21st century) modern nation-state: It, of course, is an heir to Hobbes Leviathan. However, compared with the original image, the head of the sovereign is not displayed as even in the remaining monarchies, the regimes are constitutional and democratic. The cross (left hand) and the sword (right hand) that symbolise the powers of church and sword are decapitated. Indeed, if both orders remain crucial for any polity, our era upholds peace rather than war as value, and has a difficult relation to religions; other elite groups may also be crucial. The body is composed of a multitude of small human beings, which may be seen as represent the people, citizens, the nation and thus portray both democracy and the ruled.

Hieronymus Bosch - The Garden of Earthly Delights - Left Panel
The image used to depict the creation of Everstate: The Garden of Earthly Delights – Left Panel – Hieronymus Bosch (image downloaded from Wikimedia Commons)

The triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch is used for the featured images for the whole narrative of the Chronicles of Everstate, each detail chosen according to the content of the narrative. The creation of Everstate uses the top of the left panel, as symbolising a world still virgin of human interactions.

garden of delights by Bosch
The featured image depicting the start of The Chronicles of Everstate (from Setting the stage, the actors to 2012 EVT) is a detail of the central panel (its top) of the triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch, provided by Wikimedia Commons.

The top of the central panel is chosen to show a world now inhabited by various actors, happy, light, full of promises, of complexity and appearing as relatively benign.

Mamominarch
The featured image depicting the scenario Mamominarch of The Chronicles of Everstate is a detail of the central panel (middle) of the triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch, provided by Wikimedia Commons.

The lower middle part of the central panel is chosen for the Mamominarch scenario, to represent a world where interactions among actors and their decisions have had a strong impact (hence the size of the characters) and to symbolise a libertarian atmosphere that may be imagined as following from actions minimizing the power of the state.

The featured image depicting Tragic Events and their first impacts in the Chronicles of Everstate is a detail of the right panel (top) of the triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch, provided by Wikimedia Commons.

The top of the right panel of the triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights is chosen to depict the tragic events that befell Everstate, as well as the impacts of those events on the polity. The top of the panel is chosen as it hardly portrays any actor, and if it does they are isolated, individuals. Indeed, the feeling most people would have when hit by such catastrophes as chosen here, is one of powerlessness and being the victim of a fate beyond their control and responsibility. Yet, this is only a perception, hence the use of the logic of choosing the whole triptych, as all these events are actually anthropogenic. One of the terrible fatality human beings have to face is to become aware of their individual responsibility, to act accordingly and yet, most of the time, still suffer because of others’ refusal to do as much or because of belated awakenings.

The other featured images will be added as the various scenarios unfold.

The featured image for “Everstate’s criteria” is part of a map of The Nuremberg Chronicles or Die Schedelsche Weltchronik provided by Wikimedia Commons.

The use of an ancient map is meant to depict location and specification, criteria materialising a country being nothing else than a cognitive map. The choice of the Weltchronik (world chronicles) was appropriate for a foresight analysis named similarly and that aims at being adaptable to any country in the world (as ideal-type).

Each original image in its entirety is free of rights. They are reworked under C.C. 3.0.

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