The Photograph

Chess board, at the ready


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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:

20 June, 2017

Goethe's _Dr. Faust: The Tragedy_ and Iconic Realism (Click onto this title to see and hear "Faust"-Murnau 1926, The Dark)

In his play, Faust: The Tragedy (Faust. Der Tragödie), Johann Wolfgang von Goethe provides an illustration of iconic realism in that he places an iconic character, Mephistopheles, representing the complexities of evil/negation in the presence of the realistic, emotionally charged character, Dr. Faust, who struggles with his own perception of a quality human experience.
The disguised Mephistopheles makes a deal with Faust, and cultural lessons unfold. In the end, through the interactions of the feminine character, Gretchen, Mephistopheles and Faust, Goethe elucidates his audience of redeeming cultural virtues of honesty, integrity, and perseverance.

11 June, 2017

Jane Eyre and Iconic Realism

(Click HERE  to view the final scene from this 2006 BBC production of Jane Eyre.)

Charlotte Brontë's novel, Jane Eyre, illustrates the theory of iconic realism in that her title character, Jane, depicts a young woman who, although abused as a child, manages to maintain her inner strength and dignity as she responsibly carries out her iconic role as an honest, humble governess while placed in the midst of wealth and deceit. Through this character, Brontë brings awareness to her audience of the complex emotions and intelligence within the feminine consciousness. Stalwart Jane, the epitome of inner strength, becomes the lens through which her former master, blinded in a fire, ultimately perceives and understands his world. 

01 June, 2017

Arthur Miller's 'The Crucible' and Iconic Realism

In Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible, characterization takes place within the parameters of a seventeenth century New England village. Yet, the message that Miller is sending to his audience parallels the political ramifications of the anti-communist hearings in the United States, when fear of communism heavily influenced the psychological landscape. He creates a series of events that illustrate iconic realism through his use of lighting, characterization and dialogue. As each member of the town accused of witchcraft is called to trial, the lighting and stage presence illuminates the audience to the author’s intention. Written in 1953, shortly after the anti-communist hearings, known as the House Committee on Un-American Activities,[1] each character could represent some facet of the House Committee’s representation, for actions by the House committee resembled those of the drama’s magistrates. 

However, the reality of the play is a seventeenth century New England village, during a time when actual witch hunts did take place. Miller admits to changing a few names and facts regarding the characters, “This play is not history in the sense in which the word is used by the academic historian… However... the reader will discover here the essential nature of one of the strangest...chapters in human history.”[2] Miller chooses a tale of human interaction to demonstrate his concern for the cultural future of the United States and humanity in general. (Lakatos 2009)

I wonder... Have some current politicians read this play?  Somehow, I think not. 

[1] Carr, Robert K. “The Un-American Committee.” The University of Chicago Law Review. 18.3 (Spring, 1951) 598-633.
[2] Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. (New York: Penguin Books, 1976) 2.

30 May, 2017

Dante Alighieri's "Paradiso" and Iconic Realism

Photo from Google Images

Dante Alighieri's final book of The Divine Comedy is Paradiso. In this book, he demonstrates the theory of iconic realism in that he aligns the spirit of the beloved Beatrice with the true wisdom of God, yet he simultaneously illustrates the need for humanity to acknowledge the glorious virtues found within the constraints of human interaction. 

CANTO IV, lines 28-39: The souls exist as projections of their truest light, the light that shines directly from God, which is their 'true home' whereas in lines 73-75, what the Pilgrim cannot learn directly must be taught him through analogy involving the senses, human physiological experience. This contradicts the earlier lines that indicate truth as intangible and experienced only through one's own enlightenment. 

The human will does not enjoy freedom to move of its own accord; it acts in response to the intensity of individual motivation. When perfect balance exists between two motives, the will is deprived of its power to move, and becomes paralyzed. A paradox that remains is humanity needs to interact with others but resists the risk of reaching out to make a difference. The result is apathy. 

24 May, 2017

Aesthetics, Richard Wagner and Iconic Realism

I took this photo in Limerick, Ireland.

Through the use of the semiotic theory of iconic realism, artists shape the consciousness of various aspects of culture, including education, history, business, and aesthetics whereby their works of art combine an iconic figure with a realistic setting that communicates an incompatibility with the accepted environment in which the audience commonly associates the iconic figure. Understanding the language presented through the art form, be it literary, visual or aural, the audience may respond with an emotional resistance as it perceives the iconic representation in this new realistic setting.

An example of iconic realism in a musical composition utilizing instrumentation is Wagner’s mythical composition, The Ring of the Nibelungs.  In this piece, Wagner represents various aspects of society through instrumental characterizations. As Eero Tarasti affirms, "the gods appear in the Ring not only as personifications of the elements of nature, for example, Loge as the god of fire, Donner the god of thunder etc, but also as a society, whose leader is Wotan." [1] His use of contrasting instrumentation throughout his opus reveals an intense desire to illustrate corruption within his society. Many filmmakers choose to accompany the drama of their themes utilizing the nineteenth century Wagner music. An example of such intense films is Apocalypse Now, which illustrates the corruption associated with war, in particular, the Vietnam War.
1. Tarasti, Eero. Myth and Music: A Semiotic Apporach to the Aesthetics of Myth in Music, especially that of Wagner, Sibelius and Stravinsky (Paris: Mouton, 1979) 177.