Danbury, CT

Danbury, CT

The Photograph

The Sphere within a Sphere, Trinity College Dublin, by Italian sculptor, Arnaldo Pomodoro.

Introduction:

My photo
Current: Danbury, CT, United States
Welcome! A few years ago, I discovered an application that artists employ in their works to bring cultural awareness to their audiences. Having discerned this semiotic theory that applies to literature, music, art, film, and the media, I have devoted the blog, "Theory of Iconic Realism" to explore this theory. The link to the publisher of my book is below. If you or your university would like a copy of this book for your library or if you would like to review it for a scholarly journal, please contact the Edwin Mellen Press at the link listed below. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Thank you for visiting. I hope you will find the information insightful. ~ Dr. Jeanne Iris



To view my page on the Edwin Mellen Press website, please click below:

26 March, 2017

Literary Harmony and Iconic Realism in Sydney Owenson's novel, _The Wild Irish Girl_



Photo from insert of the 1888 publication of The Wild Irish Girl by Sydney Owenson

Iconic realism intones throughout Sydney Owenson’s national tale, The Wild Irish Girl, written from a feminine cultural point of view shortly after the British Act of Union 1801.

Sydney Owenson engages in the construction of iconic realism through her interface with the concept of literary harmony elicited from the initial resonance of Irish revolution. She creates characters as iconic representatives of the consciousness that exists in her historical reality, leading her audiences to a recognizable semblance of truth and a basis for future writers to harmonize with the transitioning, historical significance of human consciousness.

Such resonance, which distinguishes between intense reality and strength of the human spirit through iconic realism, occurs in Owenson’s novel, demonstrating the necessity for humankind to relate to one another on a realistic rather than a symbolic level. 

14 March, 2017

Sydney Owenson's "Lay of an Irish Harp" and Iconic Realism

(Photo of Sydney Owenson (Lady Morgan) from New York Public Library)

In her 1807 lyrical collection, Lay of an Irish Harp, Sydney Owenson uses the iconic imagery of a harp to scrutinize the resonating cry for enlightened human consciousness shortly after the Act of Union 1801 has been enforced. She illustrates the harmonics of human intellect surrounding the Irish message of perseverance in times of hardship and indignity suffered when human rights are ignored, using rhythmic structure within her poetics and iconic allusions through intricate semiotic fusion of philosophy and history. According to her memoirs, Owenson’s aspiration was as follows: 

...to make my native country better known, and to dissipate the political and religious prejudices that hindered its prosperity…Neither lovers, friends, nor flatterers, ever turned my attention from the steady, settled aim of my life-- and that was to advocate the interest of my country in my writings…        


When enlightenment merely reflects the ignorance of cultural bias, the abrasive consciousness of society suppresses creative exploration and moves into a mire of lost intentions and spiritual limitation. Owenson begins a personal quest to enlighten her contemporaries of a plausible if not impossible endeavour for the Irish and the British to maintain a semblance of harmony in Ireland. She uses the aural traditions of harp music and the power in lyrical structure to express innovative concepts through the traditional aural experiences of narratives and music.  Kate Bowan and Paul Pickering remark: 


Music is central to the formation of identities whether national, ethic, religious, or political as it can by virtue of being a social activity, include or exclude, and is open to countless reshaping and re-articulations in various contexts.


Thus, Owenson’s literary works demonstrate an iconic vision in the midst of dissonance, as she focuses her reading audience’s attention on discordant elements within nineteenth century Irish society that need transformation. (excerpt from my paper, read at the Association for Franco-Irish Studies conference in Dublin, Ireland, 2012)

28 February, 2017

William Butler Yeats' "The Tower II" and Iconic Realism

I took this photograph of Thoor Ballylee a few years ago.

 
I pace upon the battlements and stare
On the foundations of a house, or where
Tree like a sooty finger, starts from the earth;
and send imagination forth
Under the day’s declining beam, and call
Images and memories
From ruin or from ancient trees,
For I would ask a question of them all.
(“The Tower II,” ll. 18-25) [1]

Here, Yeats places himself in the midst of the Tower, the earthen icon of the human soul. Born of the ancient source of all life, this soul’s power rests in the simplicity of a child’s voice, echoing for the “blind man’s joy.” This simplicity is so powerful that “certain men, be[come] maddened by those rhymes,” (l. 42) a magnificent union of the duality existent in imagination and reality. 

To further illustrate this duality, Yeats incorporates the iconic representation of “The Great Memory” to signify the reality of human consciousness. The speaker is out of control while at the same time, he is in control, “Come old, necessitous, half-mounted man;/And bring beauty’s blind rambling celebrant” (ll. 91-2). This ambivalence, accented with alliteration, leads to Yeats’s revelation that from chaos comes order and from dissonance, consonant harmony. He continues with his reference to human consciousness with an allusion to his recurrent swan’s song: “When the swan must fix his eye/ Upon a fading gleam, /Float out upon a long/Last reach of glistening stream/And there sing his last song” (ll. 141-45). 

The central theme of this poem is the realization of life’s paradox that art is both illusion and ideal. When Yeats reveals through the alliteration and rapid meter of “Man makes a superhuman/Mirror-resembling dream” (ll.165-66), he draws upon his references of the Easter Uprising and WWI in which reality of life recreates itself through the restructuring of chaos. 

Yeats’s iconic-bucolic imagery of singing birds in the introductory and concluding lines of “The Tower” reinforce his message of universal harmony that echoes throughout the sphere of life’s transformations. His final lines, “Seem but the clouds of the sky/When the horizon fades,/ Or a bird’s sleepy cry/ Among the deepening shades” (ll.193-96), indicate his reconciliation of life, art, Ireland and reality. It is not by accident that this poem leads directly to “Meditations in Time of Civil War.” 

In “The Tower,” Yeats illustrates the necessity for humanity to acknowledge the reality of life’s paradox and to nurture human consciousness with eyes wide open to human frailties as well as the glorious harmony present in one's creative endeavors.



[1] Yeats, William Butler. The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats. (Hertfordshire, G.B.: Wordsworth Editions, Ltd., 2000)

[2] Lakatos, Jeanne. The Theory of Iconic Realism: Understanding the Arts through Cultural Context. New York: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2008, pp. 54-55.

23 February, 2017

Mother Teresa and Iconic Realism

Recently, I was reading an article about Mother Teresa of Calcutta. As I read of her selfless acts of love among the diseased and poverty stricken, I realized that her life story is an example of iconic realism. As a Catholic nun, she epitomized the concept of purity in mind and body. Yet, there she was, providing comfort to a population from which many would rather turn away. Through her presence in this challenging setting, she demonstrated the necessity for human compassion. 
One of my favorite quotes from this brilliant woman is as follows: "We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”

16 February, 2017

Brian Eno's Ambient Music and Iconic Realism (Click here to view and hear video of Eno's Earth, An Ending)


From my book: 
Some musical composers apply electronically produced music with natural sounds from the environment to provide the audience with a real association, such as wildlife, bodies of water, seasonal sound sources, and weather phenomena. This particular form of musical presentation, known as ambient music, for its affect on the ambience of one’s surroundings, is often recorded for health facilities.
An example of such musical composition is the healing music of composer, Brian Eno, and his 1978 release, Ambient I: Music for Airports. In the liner of this album, Eno writes, “My intention is to produce original pieces ostensibly (but not exclusively) for particular times and situations with a view to building up a small but versatile catalogue of environmental music suited to a wide variety of moods and atmospheres.” [1] This form of incorporating musical sounds with nature provides the added aesthetic of stimulating the senses with a portion of reality to which the audience relates through memory, transporting an individual to an aspect of memory, aligning the audience with the composer’s perception of reality.
        In his musical composition, Earth, An Ending, he provides the audience with a reality that heightens awareness of the possibility of positive cultural change either within an individual or within Earth’s community as a whole.
[1] Eno, Brian. Music for Airports/Ambient 1. Liner notes. PVC 7908 (AMB 001), 1978.