Sligo Abbey, Ireland

The Photograph

A cup o' coffee on a snowy January morning


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:


I have demonstrated or will demonstrate the application of this theory at the following locations:
April, 2016 @ University of Notre Dame:
A 'Daughter of Attila' Speaks: The Semiotic Theory of Iconic Realism in the Cultural Identity of Irish Celts and Magyars
November, 2016 @ Massachusetts Maritime Academy:
"A Terrible Beauty is Born"...The Semiotic Theory of Iconic Realism and William Butler Yeats' poem, Easter 1916
Dates pending: I will present the theory of iconic realism at universities and art institutes which have purchased my book.

17 March, 2018

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.

08 March, 2018

Brian Friel's "Molly Sweeney" and Iconic Realism

In his play, Molly Sweeney, Brian Friel utilizes theatrical dialogue between his three main characters, situated in connection with Molly’s blindness. Her blindness enables her to ‘see’ the world in a way that the sighted cannot. She transports the other characters and thus, the audience, from ignorance to awareness of cultural expectations. Friel’s Molly Sweeney is a literary representation of the iconic figure of Cathleen Ni Houlihan, and he creates the icon as a realistic woman with real perceptions in order to bring the audience to an awareness of the cultural dilemma of the dichotomy within the Irish historical perception of self. Friel connects Molly’s new sight with an overall feeling of anxiety that could be the personal reactions of one individual’s yearning for courage or a nation’s.

20 February, 2018

Richard Wagner and Iconic Realism (Click title to see and hear musical rendition of Flight of the Valkyries)

"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 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 the Vietnam War" (Lakatos 78) 

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.  

13 February, 2018

New York City Graffiti and Iconic Realism

All of above photos from Google Images

Recently, it was brought to my attention that graffiti would be an excellent example of iconic realism, and I completely agree.  Here, you will see some examples of graffiti found around New York City. If you look closely, you will notice the juxtaposition of iconic ideals with cynicism, reflecting a consciousness present in an inner city truth, painted on the exterior walls of buildings in one of the world's most relevant cities, New York City, New York. These art renderings bring into focus significant dichotomies within our society. 


12 February, 2018

A Valentine Poem

A quilt block that I have hand-sewn for a heart-themed quilt. 
The roses and leaves were made from strips of satin ribbon.

Love's Capacity

We human beings
have the capacity to love
like no other creature
on earth. Our humility
resides in the loving power
that we extend to others,
not expecting reciprocity
but only by using our unique gifts 
to lovingly enrich
human consciousness,
releasing our contribution
resonating from within
the universal wellspring: Divine Love.

© Jeanne I. Lakatos