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.

04 October, 2009

Monday Poetry Respite

This week's assignment from TFE involved our viewing a photograph from TFE's collection and writing a poem. As you can see, I chose the photograph entitled, "Fitzer's Alley."

Ne’er Death 

Fitzer had a close call back in 2005
He made it as far as
the star-shaped puddles
there in the groundwork,
along with the genesis of life:
dollops of debris, mud and grit.
Then someone called him back.
He had more art to refine, so
he left his design on the wall.
See, he just had to make sure
he’d find his way on the return.

He’s in good company:
Kar, Palmer, IC, Ar’y.
and other obscure names
inscribed upon those walls
that humans love to build,
safeguarding their passions.
More artists, I suppose they are,
called back to finish their work
inspiring, creating, envisioning
their universe or universals
helping the rest of us find our way.

© Jeanne I. Lakatos  2009

29 September, 2009

'Human Countdown' and Iconic Realism (Click onto this title to see and hear about this event.)

On September 20, 2009, Central Park in New York City was filled with individuals who were interested in making a change in the public's attitude concerning the need for environmental stewardship. These individuals gathered in Central Park to create a living, visual image to highlight the message of this change to occur worldwide. 
An excellent example of iconic realism, this community event demonstrated how a creative vision in the midst of one of the world's largest cities can bring awareness of cultural reform to the attention of the world. 

14 September, 2009

Monday Poetry Respite

by Jeanne I. Lakatos

Yearning for serenity
an unsettled mind
drifts gracefully
flowing in paralysis
a paradox offering
spiritual coalescence
sweet malady
sweeter melody
sweetest memory
core surge caresses
in divine rhythm
echoes from arched bones
guard this heart
in solemn surrender to stillness
filling silence with rapture

(As per TFE's Monday poetry assignment, I wrote this poem upon listening to "Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis," composed by Ralph Vaughan-Williams)

19 August, 2009

Vincent Van Gogh and Iconic Realism (Click onto title to hear Don McLean sing "Vincent" with accompanying Van Gogh paintings.)

Vincent Van Gogh

calligraphy by Huang Xiang

painting by William Rock

Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

Van Gogh
(Translation of Huang Xiang's poetry, written in Chinese calligraphy on painting)

The painting holds high like torchesSunflowers turning high-heaven's blazing

To burn up the magnificent painting spirit stopped by a bulletTo burn down the temple of golden yellow
Opaque color -dabs like clots of
Gush fiery tears
Struggling lines feverishly erupt, twitching like raw nerves

The back view of a giant

An audience interprets visual art by incorporating the artistic components of color, form, line and texture. Each of these elements could be an iconic representation in that a community establishes a specific association with the artistic component. Over time, this component represents an aspect of the culture, which established the association. When the artist places this specific element in a realistic setting to convey another cultural issue, the use of iconic realism enables the viewing audience to interpret a new cultural dilemma (Lakatos 59).

An example of using a visual image to enhance meaning through the collective memory of a community exists within Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night. He centrally places an iconic, celestial figure: moon, sun, stars, as a focal point, disproportionate to the small village With wide, brush strokes, he creates movement and thus, a memory that transcends the primary source of his painting, that of the cosmic link between structure of a silent society and chaos. He paints contrasts of light and dark, structure and non-structure, illuminating his audience of the need to consider the bleak constraints of organized spirituality. He paints a magnificent challenge for the members to consider enlightenment as an action that illumines the darkness of the soul. In this painting, Van Gogh illustrates his personal connection with nature and spirituality.

22 July, 2009

Blade Runner and Iconic Realism

The 1982 film, Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott, screenplay written by Hampton Fancher, is based on the novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. In the film, set in a futuristic Los Angeles, Harrison Ford’s character, Deckard, has a mission to terminate 4 replicants. However, his iconic figure of a rugged cop experiences a change of conscience as emotional turmoil enters his stark reality. This film contains several illustrations of iconic realism through the use of iconic images overlaid an obscure, futuristic setting, that bring the audience to an awareness of the ambiguous reality of human strength and weakness.   

12 July, 2009

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie

These young students taste all that is forbidden in a 're-education' camp in the remote hills of China during the Chinese cultural revolution of the 1970's: music, literature, love, and freedom. Dai Sijie writes a beautiful tale as both a novella and a screenplay, illustrating through the use of iconic realism that creativity and the hunger for knowledge of self and the world perseveres within the human spirit.  

04 July, 2009

The Great Escape and Iconic Realism

I was channel surfing the other day and landed on The Great Escape, a 1963 film directed by John Sturges. I couldn't help notice that this film illustrates the semiotic theory of iconic realism in that the audience perceives icons of both freedom and constraint through character representation of the Allied prisoners of WWII and the German Gestapo. As the film progresses with bucolic settings that also provide a perception of freedom, only to be constrained by the Nazi forces, the viewer becomes poignantly aware of freedom and its multiple forms of limitation. In the end, those characters who are still alive, question their need for physical freedom from the pow camp as they learn to appreciate their individual spiritual, intellectual and emotional autonomy. 

24 March, 2009

Ode to Skunk Cabbage

Below, you will find my favorite spring poem. It has nothing to do with iconic realism. Today is a beautiful, cold, early spring day here, and I just felt like sharing this. Hope you enjoy it!

Ode to Skunk Cabbage
by Jeanne I. Lakatos

Bursting forth from its ruddy milieu
a flower erects from its hooded spathe.
This courageous prophet boldly
faces the frigid air with confidence,
radiating silently, as if to say,
“Come to me, for I offer
nourishment you need now.”
Sweet attraction allures, and she comes:
the beetle, the spider, the queen bee,
warmed by the generosity
of Spring’s first flower.
Odoriferous, proud, protective,
he inspires other fragrant flora
to engender beauty.
Now, Spring has arrived
with the burgeoning
of the exceptional Skunk Cabbage.

18 March, 2009

St. Joseph's Table and Iconic Realism

March 19 is St. Joseph's Day....I know, in some circles, this might be known as the reprieve following St. Patrick's Day. Now, what could be more iconic than a table laden with Italian delicacies? The way in which this becomes iconic realism is the setting (time) of this tradition, Lent, a time normally set aside for fasting. However, at a St. Joseph's Table, there is an abundance of wonderful food, in honor of the patron saint of families. The cultural aspect which becomes magnified by this juxtaposition of excessive edibles during a period of fasting would be the focus on familial bonds, friendship, love. If you have never experienced a St. Joseph's Table, I highly recommend it. The aroma alone will revive your senses, providing a true contemplation of life's adventure. 

01 March, 2009

Iconic Realism and YOU!

I would love to hear your reactions to this theory. When you get a chance, please jot down your opinions. 
Thanks! ~ Jeanne

18 February, 2009

Rosie the Riveter and Iconic Realism

photo from Google Images

"Rosie the Riveter was an icon of the World War II era. The image of a pretty woman with her hair tied back, flexing her might, was completely out of place for the society’s image of a woman before 1941. However, this image provided inspiration to many women who were in need of money and who wanted to contribute to the war effort. The community was the female population of the United States of America during World War II.  Her image continues to be an icon for feminine strength and perseverance through troubled times. Use of this icon as a source of feminine motivation is an example of the semiotic theory of iconic realism affecting the culture of a community" (Lakatos 81).
"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 even respond with an emotional resistance, as it perceives the iconic representation in this new realistic setting." (Lakatos, The Theory of Iconic Realism: Understanding the Arts through Cultural Context)

02 February, 2009

Not iconic realism, rather irony and circular condition

Okay, so today was a very odd Monday, there must be some kind of planetary retrograde or something taking place. Anyway, the end of the day was arriving, and a colleague of mine asked if I'd be interested in ordering a pizza. "Sure!" I replied, and quickly put on my red coat to quickly walk over to the Student Center ATM and get some cash. 

That's when it happened. I decided to walk through one of the buildings to avoid the ice outside. However, as I turned the corner in the hallway, I slipped and fell on some melted ice. My cute, Dooney-Burke slid across the hall, and there I was on my knees. Well, thank goodness no one was around to see this....Ah, but had there been, a possible law suit might have been easy to win...and I could have been a millionaire! 

Not the case, however. I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and started all over again, heading toward the ATM for a couple of 20's. When I returned, I noticed the area of my foot that hit the floor was swelling, hurting....a lot! Now, it is a lovely shade of bluish-green, throbbing and determining exactly how I maneuver this crazy frozen world. I have some old crutches, which have come in handy, and I just know that this, too, shall pass. 

Now, here is the irony of the situation. I am now applying ice to this swollen entity at the southern end of my! ....that which caused this condition in the first place. Full circle.

*** Having visited the hospital, I am now learning to navigate with crutches, for this little spill has resulted in 2 broken bones in my left foot. Should be interesting!

31 January, 2009

Have fun with Zen Meditation Chimes!

Whilst you play this musical instrument, perhaps, you will be transformed into a state of total relaxation, from which you, too, will conjure some ideas regarding iconic realism. This theory can be applied to many forms of human experience. Aw, come on, give it a try!  

24 January, 2009

Iconic Realism and Commercial Use

I just viewed a TV commercial for a national American bank. The ad began with footage of an adorable, well-fed, happy baby, followed by a series of events that could affect this baby during his/her lifetime, placing the iconic image of innocence juxtaposed with the risks of adult decisions, bringing the audience through to the recognition that their savings would earn wonderful dividends if placed in this bank. 

In another commercial, a hybrid automobile is placed in the middle of a lush, wooded glen. Little by little, the writers narrate the environmental benefits of owning this car. Again, the placement of an icon for modern society in the middle of the natural environment to make a statement about the cultural need for earthly stewardship. 

Oh yes...a creative means to sell product!

20 January, 2009

Always check your mail! Today, I happened to check my mailbox at the university, and sitting there on top of the mailbox shelf was a package addressed to me. In this package (YES!) were five copies of my book! I'm still not satisfied with the photo of me on the back cover, but oh well...The book is written; the theory is out there, and there ya go! Any questions about the cover photo? It's pretty cool, huh? 

Oh....and TFE? Love that photo of you, brilliant smile! You look a bit pale, though. Need a little sun, do we? 

Inauguration Poem: Revolution

My poem in honor of the Inauguration of President Barack Obama:

by Jeanne I. Lakatos

Historical moments,
meiosis of human spirit,
evolve into prospects
for rebellion to split
open the festering 
wound of ignorance,
bleed with hastening
progress in anticipation
of a conscious awakening.

19 January, 2009

Iconic Realism and the Inauguration of President Barack Obama

The United States of America will be inaugurating the first Irish/African American president, Barack Obama this Tuesday. The photography that surrounds this event will be filled with examples of iconic realism simply because of this historical event. One example that comes to mind is the pose of President-elect Obama standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial. This photo in itself does not display a figure 'out of place.' What it does illustrate is the presidential image of Mr. Obama, standing in front of the iconic image of Abraham Lincoln. The fact that he is represented in this presidential view is unique for this moment in time. From this photograph, we are made aware of the need for political change in the U.S.A.

13 January, 2009

Iconic realism in Irish literature

An example of iconic realism in Irish literature is Cathleen Ni Houlihan. Her character appears in a number of novels and poetry through a variety of personas. I'm thinking of such obvious writers as James Joyce, Brian Friel, William Butler Yeats and Maria Edgeworth, not to mention my personal favorite, Sydney Owenson. 

Iconic realism in Art

As you gaze upon the art by Dali, below, you will note that he uses iconic realism in most of his artistic renderings. He will place a recognizable figure in a position in which this figure is not expected to exist. Through his placement of the figure in this unrealistic setting, he creates a realism that brings awareness of an aspect of culture that needs reformation in some way.  

11 January, 2009

Definition of the Semiotic Theory of Iconic Realism

by Jeanne I. Lakatos (aka 'Siobhan an Hun')

Realism comprises authentic and independent aspects of the natural world, which individuals comprehend through sensory perception. The term icon describes a realistic person or realistic object, categorically perceived by a population as representative of a specific human activity or an object that bears significance to human activity. Iconic realism, then, involves the placement of an icon within the midst of a unique realistic setting, out of place for this particular icon, creating a static coalescence of the icon with the designated realism. Since both the icon and the realistic setting represent an aspect of the culture, the resulting friction between these two entities is the catalyst that generates enlightenment of a cultural dilemma.

An example of iconic realism would be an artist’s placement of Jesus the Christ or a representation of this icon of Western philosophy, in the midst of the Iraq War, 2009, an aspect of the real world. This individual in this setting would generate enlightenment of the cultural dilemma, stirring a new consciousness of political and philosophical intentions of United States’ Judeo-Christian philosophy and the activity within the designated, realistic Middle East during this particular time in history and locale. 

Iconic realism in Music

Iconic realism in music involves the sounds of nature, outer space or any object not associated with a musical instrument, that has been synthesized with traditional musical instruments of an orchestra, jazz group, or contemporary musical group. The juxtaposition of the natural or tech sounds with the orchestral music illustrates some aspect of cultural reform.