We are a sign that is not read.
It says at the top of my journal profile that I am a Pisces. That's my "sign." What does that mean? Does being a Pisces make me any better or happier than if I was a Leo or a Capricorn? I know a woman who, when someone asks her what her sign is, says "no turn on right." I know another independent type whose sign is "No Parking."
You can wear a McCain or Obama button, or put up a similar sign on your front lawn or in your window and think that it somehow identifies you.
Our "signs" are everywhere, on T-shirts, bumper stickers, tattoos. It's easy to read those signs. But eventually they're not important. They only represent something, They aren't the thing itself.
What Hoelderlin means. I think, when he says "We are a sign that is not read" is that we are so involved with the signs of daily life and what they represent that we overlook the fact that we are the greatest and most important sign of all. We are the pinnacle of earthly creation, we are the signal to the universe of the grandness and beauty of life, we are the unified signal to all existence of the fact of survival and accomplishment, we are the receivers and stewards of life itself. We have the right and obligation, by the way we live, to announce to all creation just what it is capable of.
And yet we don't read ourselves, because we go about destroying the very existence we are a part of, including each other, and we do it under some sort of banner that pretends to describe us and proclaim who we are, that limits and categorizes us, and that sets us up one against the other.
I believe, with futility perhaps, that a time will come when the human race will
step out of the dark age it's in and put away the false labels that have governed us for too long. If I can do anything at all to hasten that time, let me do it. Not for me, but for the life I'm in.
The moral is: Don't wave a sign. Be one.
DB - Vagabond Journeys