Yellow Swallowtail, balancing on a Rose of Sharon bloom

Yellow Swallowtail, balancing on a Rose of Sharon bloom
Yellow Swallowtail, balancing on a Rose of Sharon bloom

The Photograph:

Tiger Swallowtail in Balance


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!

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

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


29 August, 2016

Hans Christian Andersen's "The Ugly Duckling" and Iconic Realism

Photo of two swans, canoodling on East Lake, Danbury, CT

One of my favorite childhood tales is Hans Christian Andersen's "The Ugly Duckling." In this tale, he introduces the concept of tolerance by the placement of the animal kingdom's icon of grace, the swan, in a home of ducklings, known for awkwardness. The young swan is completely out of place in this environment. Here, Andersen uses iconic realism to illustrate that even though one may experience cruelty and humiliation, when one looks inward, one can realize individual truth and therefore, discover possibilities associated with self actualization.  (Click HERE to view Danny Kaye singing about this tale.)

19 August, 2016

William Butler Yeats's poem, "Fragments," and Iconic Realism

I took this photo of a stone etching, commemorating Yeats at Coole Park, Ireland.

The following is an excerpt from my book: 

In his poem, “Fragments,” Yeats rejects the icon of Christian philosopher, John Locke, and insinuates that mankind may not be “inherently good,” for “Locke sank into a swoon” (l.1) In lines 2-4, he writes, “The Garden died;/God took the spinning-jenny/Out of his side.” Since the spinning jenny enabled laborers to produce many more skeins of yarn, this allowed for the presence of many ‘yarns.’ His play on words creates the yarn. God (Jesus), the male icon of Christianity, has removed the tales of faith, the sins for which He was crucified. 

The last stanza provides a reality of the truth, which emanates from a non-Christian source, a medium, then, “Out of nothing it came,” from the Book of Genesis, the beginning of time, and the source of God. He follows this with the pagan version of truth, “Out of the forest loam,” the most fertile, lowest part of the forest floor, where nutrients for the forest thrive. Finally, truth comes “Out of dark night where lay/The crowns of Nineveh.” Here, darkness reveals only ignorance, silence, no words of wisdom, and the source of superficiality. 

Yeats juxtaposes the iconic with realistic in this poem to question the dichotomy of human faith, and moves the reader along his wave of resonating artistic flow, for the following poem in this series is “Leda and the Swan,” his iconic poem that alludes to the rape of Leda in order to illustrate polar opposites in human consciousness.

15 August, 2016

'Global Water Foundation: Africa is Gasping' and Iconic Realism (Click onto this title to see and hear video

Thumbnail photo from YouTube video
While Baton Rouge, Louisiana has been bearing the deluge of rain, 30 + inches in the past few days, there are other parts of the world that have been struggling with drought conditions. That seems to be  the way with natural climate patterns. Climate change is not a modern phenomenon. On the contrary, our beautiful planet's climate has been changing for millions of years. Let's look at one current  method of dealing with the changes that occur, particularly those changes associated with drought. 

An effective way for public service organizations to reach the public is through a multi-sensory approach. Such is the case with the Global Water Foundation. To bring awareness of water shortages throughout the continent of Africa, this organization has created a brief, poignant film using iconic realism as a way to elucidate for its audience this grave ecological issue. In this brief film, the iconic image of a whale leaping out of the desert sand focuses the audience's attention o the increasingly devastating diminution of potable water, not only in Africa, but worldwide.  

12 August, 2016

Margaret Mitchell's Scarlet O'Hara and Iconic Realism (Click here to view a clip from the film, Gone with the Wind.)

Photo from Google Images
"As God is my witness, they're not going to lick me. 
I'll never be hungry again, nor any of my folks..."

Margaret Mitchell's Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Gone with the Wind beautifully illustrates the semiotic theory of iconic realism. She places a gentile young woman, raised on a southern plantation, in the midst of the American Civil War (or War of Northern Aggression, as they say south of the Mason-Dixon Line). Through this juxtaposition, Mitchell makes her audience aware of the need for perseverance to maintain one's dignity, personally and culturally.

In the scene above, Scarlet emerges from Tara, fatigued and tattered like a wilted magnolia blossom, but she slowly elevates herself as the horizon brightens. Her spirit breathes life back into this flower as a nation learns to cultivate the quality of innovation.

This novel was published in 1936, during the midst of the Great Depression when millions of Americans needed the kind of determination that the character, Scarlet O'Hara, exhibited. In addition, the interaction between the various characters throughout this novel illustrates a need for cultural reform on many levels.

06 August, 2016

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

I took this photograph of Thoor Ballylee, June 2009

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.