Words of wisdom from the American author (and notorious tweeter):
"Homo sapiens is the species that invents symbols in which to invest passion and authority, then forgets that symbols are inventions."
Joyce Carol Oates (b. 1938) is a prolific American author who has since her first publishing in 1963 written over 40 novels in addition to many volumes of poetry and short fiction. She has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize five times but never won, which makes her sort of like the Leonardo DiCaprio of excellent American fiction. Maybe Leo is just the Joyce Carol Oates of acting. It's debatable.
Oates' works include them, Black Water, and Blonde. She is well-known for her exceptional productivity, writing 7-8 hours per day in longhand. Oates has taught at Princeton since 1978.
More more insight on symbols, here's a video featuring Big Think expert Sam Gosling: