Risen

Risen

The Photograph

Let us pray...

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:

11 December, 2016

Frank Capra's 'It's a Wonderful Life' and Iconic Realism (Click this title to view bar scene from the film.)


Photo from Google Images: bar scene from film, It's a Wonderful Life

The 1946 film, It's a Wonderful Life, produced and directed by Frank Capra, illustrates iconic realism through the character of Clarence the angel. Here, an icon of virtue takes the good-hearted man, George Bailey, by the hand to show him the positive impact he has made on the consciousness of his hometown. 
This juxtaposition of the wealth in righteousness versus the poverty of the inane demonstrates how one individual's benevolent acts can positively affect the lives and ultimately the culture of a community. 

03 December, 2016

Sándor Liezen-Mayer's Painting, "St. Elisabeth of Hungary" and Iconic Realism

Sándor Liezen-Mayer
Saint Elisabeth of Hungary
Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest


During the Christmas season, we see a lot of paintings depicting the birth of Jesus. As a woman of Hungarian ancestry (Lakatos is Hungarian for 'locksmith'), I was intrigued by this beautiful painting of St. Elisabeth of Hungary by Sandor Liezen-Mayer. Here, we see a Madonna-like figure and her infant child in a lowly state with Elisabeth extending her royal cloak to them.


An example of iconic realism, this painting illustrates the humility of the origins of Christian precepts and the balance of power when this humility extends from all levels of society. Liezen-Mayer does this through the variation of color, shading as well as interaction between the architecture and human figures. Tragically widowed at the age of 20, Szent Erzsébet devoted her short life to charitable works in Germany and Europe. She died in 1231, at the age of 24.

27 November, 2016

Symphony at The Cloisters, New York City and Iconic Realism

www.pbase.com/ terraxplorer/image/68935986
The following excerpt is in the Introduction of my book. I'd like to thank Professor Lionel Bascom for telling me of this experience as his illustration of iconic realism.



A group of New Yorkers assembles in the Cloisters museum, which sits atop a hill overlooking the Hudson River, just outside of Manhattan. These individuals have come to listen to a concert, which will be presented just before sunset. Anticipating a traditional concert with musicians performing in front of a listening audience, they search for seating. They notice that chairs have been strategically placed throughout the museum, a few here, a few there, up the winding staircases, in the garden, along the walls of stone. Confused, the concert attendees seat themselves, waiting.

Soon, echoing through the interweaving chambers of the museum, low brass instruments create a resonating medieval drone, monotone voices chanting in Latin with sustained pitches, fill the damp air with a sound that transports the audience from the busy New York City museum to a medieval stone castle. The glow from the setting sun mixed with low lighting envelops the medieval tapestries, statuary and paintings while muted melodies fill the audience with an aural feast. Iconic melodies that signify this medieval period permeate the halls.

The medieval tones mingle with the realism in the works of art, architecture and presence of the audience, sensually transported to this era. When the concert ends, the members of this audience become aware of the cultural distinctions between the two worlds of medieval Europe and twentieth century New York City, now transformed in their perceptions of continuity of human interaction in time and space, having experienced iconic realism.

17 November, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!


Photo from Google Images

As we near this Thanksgiving Day, I am thankful for the wonderful people who have visited this site. I wish for you great health and happiness. I am thankful for the life that I have right now: my family, friends, colleagues, and students, who have influenced me in ways that they probably do not even know. Filled with love and appreciation, I sincerely hope that God will reign Blessings on each person whose life has touched me in a positive manner. 

With much gratitude, I wish you all a Blessed Thanksgiving! 
~ Dr. Jeanne Iris

06 November, 2016

Semiotic Theory


I took this photo in Dublin, Ireland a few years ago.


Content of material represented through literature, art and music contains the linguistic configurations associated with language in addition to visual and auditory stimuli. In literature, content consists of language, represented by words on a page that convey meaning to the audience. Artistic content varies from materials, such as paint, rock, metal, fabric, or other physical substance, with the subject matter originating in the human experience. Musical compositions include content that incorporates any form of resonance to which the auditory mechanism responds.

For instance, thematic representation of creative expression incorporates the history, language and culture of the artist in relation to individual purpose of expression with an audience. A musical composition contains a specific theme. This theme can then repeat every time a musician performs the piece. However, the theme will elicit variations based on instrumentation, acoustics, and musicians actively attempting to recreate the original sound. A new aurally thematic expression results from this interpretation. Likewise, a work of art will receive the eyes of multiple viewers. Each person adapts his/her life experience to the interpretation of the rendered artistic theme, thus altering the original thematic construct of the artist. Hence, a theme is in a constant state of evolution, no matter which art form has been presented. (Lakatos 22-23)

21 October, 2016

Field of Dreams and Iconic Realism (Click here to view the movie trailer.)


In the photo, you will see the baseball field, which was actually constructed in an Iowa cornfield for the film, Field of Dreams.  

"An example of iconic realism in a film would be the baseball field within the 1989 film, Field of Dreams, based on the novel written by W. P. Kinsella and the screenplay written and directed by Phil Alden Robinson. Throughout the film, the audience knows that the mysterious baseball diamond, carved out of an Iowan cornfield by farmer Ray Kinsella, connects with the sport of baseball. Two iconic factors are present, the sport, which many view as America’s heart and the location, which is the heartland of America" (Lakatos 57).

"The realism is the actual grass, the parameters of the field, which consist of the edge of a cornfield and the players, themselves, which are the Chicago Black Socks, a team which had gone through a series of legalities during its prime season. The baseball players are ghosts from this infamous team, who simply wish to play out eternity on a ball field. As the plot unfolds, Ray’s true reason to construct the field revolves around ‘having a catch’ with his father. Therefore, the iconic feature of an authentic baseball field, placed in the middle of a cornfield in Iowa, a very unlikely place for a baseball field, elicits the cultural awareness from the main character. Ray’s illusions of his father were detached from a realistic understanding of his father’s passion, for he very much like Ray, himself, was a hardworking young man, who loved baseball" (Lakatos 57).

"Therefore, Robinson’s use of iconic realism in the Field of Dreams illustrates a personal mission of opening the consciousness of America to the conflict within the heart of its people and traditions. The use of illusion and human consciousness illuminate the struggle with personal motivation that produces results as stated repeatedly throughout the film, “If you build it, he will come.” This feature of iconic realism in the Field of Dreams adapts well to contemporary statements of community in iconic characterizations and the realistic dynamics of connection and detachment" (Lakatos 57).

Work Cited: 
Lakatos, Jeanne. The Theory of Iconic Realism: Understanding the Arts through a Cultural Context. Lewisburg, New York: Edwin Mellen Publishers, 2009.

11 October, 2016

Einstein's Theory of Relativity and Iconic Realism

painting by William Rock, Chinese calligraphy by Huang Xiang



“The eclipse of May 29,1919 confirmed Einstein’s theory that the light could be bend by the gravitational force of the sun. An English expedition in the area of the eclipse have actually measured the deflexion of starlight from the sun. The data of the expedition was presented to a special joint meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society and the Royal Society of London on November 6, 1919." 
(Dr. Ljubo Vujovic, Secretary General, Tesla Memorial Society of New York)

This scientific event held at the conclusion of WWI illustrates iconic realism in the media. Albert Einstein, an icon of the scientific community, received confirmation of his theory of relativity through data collected by an English expedition. The manner which this event illustrates the theory of iconic realism is the juxtaposition of a representative of Germany and England, countries at war, in a scientific conference, which led to a united elevation of human consciousness.

Ironically, twenty years later, this same peace activist urges President Roosevelt to begin research into the production of the atomic bomb as a means to bring a quick end to Nazism and WWII. And we all know the rest of that narrative.

Work cited: 
Vujovic, Dr. Ljubo. Albert Einstein (187901955). Tesla Memorial Society of New York. http://www.teslasociety.com/einstein.htm

03 October, 2016

Political Media Campaigns and Iconic Realism


As the United States Presidential 2016 election draws near, I see an increase in the use of iconic realism among many of the political candidates' ads. Making sure a photo opportunity occurs in an iconic venue, be it a local diner, children's playground, senior citizen home, hospital, battle ground or board room, the television ads present these individuals in the midst of earnestly engaging in some form of activism to illustrate the need for cultural reform.

In contrast, campaign mud-slinging by both candidates attempts to perpetuate confusion in the  public mind-set rather than provide any interest to vote for this or that particular candidate.

Personally, I would prefer to view the type of campaign ad that uses a positive form of iconic realism, which demonstrates that a candidate may actually have an innovative thought for positive change... in my dreams...

27 September, 2016

Natural Equality and Iconic Realism

I took this photo in Coole Park, County Galway, Ireland

In his Second Treatise of Government, John Locke states, "People are born in a state of perfect equality, where naturally there is no superiority or jurisdiction of one over another." If one were to gaze upon the photograph I have posted above, a sense of this equality exists within the natural balance of the trees' trunks, for they vividly reflect the underground root system, the source of their immensely visual structures.

This illustrates the existence of iconic realism in the natural world in that it is unusual to see a tree's trunk and branches specifically revealing the source of its power. Usually, one would have to dig beneath the surface to see this, but as I walked beneath the branches of these enormous evergreens, I could almost feel the life force surging from the unseen root systems below my feet.

What does this reveal in a cultural sense? Those leaders that become the most powerful, whether in government, business, education or the arts, acknowledge the source of their power exists within the individuals who contribute to the root of their successful endeavors, originating from that which flourishes from below the surface.

23 September, 2016

Structure and Interpretation

Photo of The Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci, found from Google Images

However an audience incorporates and assimilates information gained from perceiving a work of art, each member of the audience will structure the information in order to create interpretation. The wide scope of interpretation evolves with the audience's perception of the art form, which characterizes the multiple associations within a singular work of art. 
For example, the interpretation of Mona Lisa's eyes from each subsequent century since her debut has rested on her ambivalent countenance. Although content remains fixed, the historicity of the audience determines the variety of interpretations of any work of art. (Lakatos 19)

18 September, 2016

Harmony of the Spheres and Iconic Realism

Photo from Google Images: DancingSky_HarmonyOfTheSpheres.jpg

I took these photographs in Ireland, June 2009.

The following is an excerpt from a paper I presented at the Mid-Atlantic Conference for Irish Studies, in 2007: 

Human beings have an inherent need to interact with one another. Yet, they often find themselves struggling with what appears to be the truth of their perceptions. This ambivalence leads to the categorizing of experiences as a way to manage personal reactions. Philosophers, such as John Locke, Immanuel Kant and Carl Jung, as well as mathematicians, such as Pythagoras and Kepler, have clarified this management in terms of music, more specifically, the mystical music of the spheres.

This concept illustrates that human communication parallels strict mathematical components associated with harmonics. To clarify the concept of harmony (music) of the spheres, one can consider a musical tone that contains the original resonating frequency with overtones creating precise harmonic variations.

Pythagoras’s theory contained the idea that there was a distinct mathematical configuration, establishing a relationship of the harmonic distances between the planets. These harmonics were considered the substance of a planetary influence on the human psyche. Centuries later, Johannes Kepler clarified this theory with his discovery that harmonic energy emanates from the sun, and there exists an exact harmonic relationship between each planet. Philosophers of the eighteenth century, such as John Locke and Immanuel Kant, connect Kepler’s theory to the concept of human consciousness.

Thus, music of the spheres represents the harmonics of human thought whereby one idea, emanating from a human being, extends to another throughout the centuries, and overtones or nuances of thought create a new harmonic of the original conception. This new harmonic, then, resonates with another interpretation, and soon, there are many new concepts formed that connect with the original resonating thought.

Although this concept illustrates that human communication parallels strict mathematical components associated with harmonics, iconic realism is a literary principle whereby an artist uses an iconic, yet real figure to represent another aspect of reality within the culture. This principle clearly resonates throughout literature as a means to express truth in a way that contains meaning while maintaining elements of the mysterious. Indeed, 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. As she reacts to her despotic environment, Owenson’s technique of using iconic structures in allegorical representations of Irish reality resonates through such 20th century writers as William Butler Yeats and James Joyce. (Lakatos 2007)

13 September, 2016

Semiotic Themes and Iconic Realism (Click onto this title to view Billie Holiday singing 'Strange Fruit.')

Oblinski's Apples from Google Images

Fallen Apple
I am the fallen apple.
Ripe with ardor,
I drop from provisional support
and roll into fertile mire
of fecundity, ignominy.
I’ll not rot in isolation.  
by Jeanne I. Lakatos

"A musical composition contains a specific theme. This theme can then repeat every time a musician performs the piece. However, the theme will elicit variations based on instrumentation, acoustics, and musicians actively attempting to recreate the original sound. A new aural thematic expression results from this interpretation. Likewise, a work of art will receive the eyes of multiple viewers. Each person adapts his/her life experience to the interpretation of the rendered artistic theme, thus altering the original thematic construct of the artist. Hence, a theme is in a constant state of evolution, no matter which art form has been presented" (Lakatos 20).

The poignant lyrics in the song, "Strange Fruit," sung by Billie Holiday, words of my poem, "Fallen Apple," and the painting, "Oblinski's Apples" all deal with a specific segment of the human population who has had to deal with human rights issues. Each work of art can be interpreted differently, but the messages are obvious. I'll let you decide those for yourself.

03 September, 2016

Walt Whitman's "When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer" and Iconic Realism

Ader Planetarium Astronomy Museum, Art Institute of Chicago
http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1053/5097973137_718735c9c6.jpg

When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer
by Walt Whitman


When I heard the learn'd astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with
much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander'd off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to tim
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.

In Walt Whitman's poem, "When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer, the speaker leaves an astronomy lecture to step outside the fixed parameters of the building. Subsequently, this individual learns first hand of the beauty when viewing the same firmament of which the lecturer speaks but viewed simply with the naked eye in silence. By leaving the lecture, the speaker, with scientific information gained from the the astronomer's lecture inside, now enjoys the silent beauty with appreciated knowledge, but more importantly, with appreciation of the significance of the stars’ natural condition. 

This poem illustrates iconic realism in that the subject,  constellations in a contrived setting, brings the audience and the speaker in the poem to a recognition that education of natural phenomena includes the experience of the real connection between humanity with nature. 

I warmly thank the Art Institute of Chicago for purchasing a copy of my book, The Theory of Iconic Realism: Understanding the Arts through Cultural Context.

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.

30 July, 2016

St. Basil's Cathedral and Iconic Realism

Photo from Google Images

The Cathedral of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat, commonly known as St. Basil's Cathedral, Moscow, could be an example of iconic realism in two ways:

St. Basil was a man of humble eloquence, a true scholar who lived in Cappadocia during the 4th century. This cathedral, now a museum, is located in an area of the world in which many communist leaders have disregarded the human right of freedom of expression, yet it bears the namesake of one who dedicated his life to these rights, and thus, illustrates iconic realism. This iconic cathedral, a major landmark of Moscow, brings an awareness of the cultural need for individual expression and freedom to pursue scholarly endeavors.

Moreover, this cathedral was constructed by supporters of Ivan the Terrible to commemorate his military victories. A towering cathedral of delicate design with vibrant colors in fanciful appearance, constructed to honor a man of war, this dichotomy demonstrates the semiotic theory of iconic realism in that the juxtaposition causes generations to re-evaluate the negative repercussions associated with warring factions. 

25 July, 2016

Salvador Dalí and Iconic Realism


The Rose by Salvador Dalí, 
          photo from Google Images

Suspended in an azure sky, a full, red, dew-kissed rose hovers over a muddy, obscure landscape with a visual representation of humanity strategically painted directly beneath the rose, as if this figure receives the flower’s beauty.  A delicate cloud wisps above the rose, giving the impression of an omniscient breath.  In this painting, the artist, Salvador Dalí, presents the colorful visual stimulus to illustrate an iconic representation of a rose, traditional symbol of love. 

However, he places this garden flower in a detached yet dominating position within his fair sky. Although the foreground has a realistic tone, the central position of this suspended rose has a surreal quality. Through this configuration, Dalí stimulates the consciousness of his audience with his visual associations to reality of the rose, the two people and the landscape. Using mainly primary colors, he places the rose above rather than within the landscape, hovering directly above the humans, he creates a form of symbolism representing an overseeing life force that captures a viewer’s imagination. 


Here, Dalí incorporates iconic realism in his painting by rendering an iconic form (the rose) within a realistic setting in which the iconic structure is not traditionally perceived (hovering in mid-air over a desert landscape) in order to bring an audience to a renewed awareness of the significance and transformation that occurs with the primal cultural activity of human interaction.  (Lakatos, The Theory of Iconic Realism: Understanding the Arts through Cultural Context)

15 July, 2016

"Don't Stop Believing" and Iconic Realism

Don't Stop Believing
by Journey


Just a small town girl, livin' in a lonely world
She took the midnight train goin' anywhere
Just a city boy, born and raised in south Detroit
He took the midnight train goin' anywhere

A singer in a smokey room
A smell of wine and cheap perfume
For a smile they can share the night
It goes on and on and on and on

Chorus:
Strangers waiting, up and down the boulevard
Their shadows searching in the night
Streetlights people, living just to find emotion
Hiding, somewhere in the night

Working hard to get my fill,
Everybody wants a thrill
Payin' anything to roll the dice,
just one more time
Some will win, some will lose
Some were born to sing the blues
Oh, the movie never ends
It goes on and on and on and on

(chorus)

Don't stop believin'
Hold on to the feelin'
Streetlight people

The iconic images of the human struggle with emotions juxtaposed with light brings the audience of this classic song by Journey in tune with the perpetual dilemma of humanity's search for meaning.

12 July, 2016

Edvard Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite, Music and Iconic Realism



         A delicate melody flows from a flute. One by one, the oboe, then strings, echo this melody until the orchestra swells with the soft, yet intensely resonating melody. Eventually, every section of the orchestra sings this song of peaceful resolve, as the audience awakens to Edvard Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite Number 1, Opus 46.  Grieg introduces the gentlest instruments of the orchestra and gradually blends in the strength of the entire string and brass sections with a calm resonance a listening audience could associate with morning sunrise. Grieg’s opus illustrates iconic realism as each member of the audience attends to this aural depiction of the dawn of something within its consciousness, interpreting possibility in variation with a theme.

       Iconic structures in music include those resonating mechanisms that represent a specific sound source recognized by a community. These aural sources could include human made instruments, the human voice or natural sounds common within a specific environment. For example, the oboe is a wind instrument that produces sounds very close in frequency and intensity to the human voice. In many baroque pieces of music, which were composed during the enlightenment of human culture, the oboe is a featured instrument, which establishes the iconic nature of the oboe within a musical piece constructed of other wind instruments.

         Since the human voice would not naturally be situated in a musical ensemble, the placement of this icon for the human voice provides the listener an opportunity to attend to this iconic realism within the musical genre of artistic expression and feel the dissonant harmonics that naturally resolve to consonance when the oboe blends with the instrumentation. This aural exercise incorporates resonating sound waves with the listener’s memory, which leads to an interpretation of the sound and thus, the association of meaning to the specific sound. 
(from my book, The Theory of Iconic Realism: Understanding the Arts through Cultural Context)

06 July, 2016

Dante Alighieri's "Paradiso" and Iconic Realism




Photo from Google Images
http://kidslink.bo.cnr.it/ic6-bo/scuolainospedale/num6-2/divcom/Image8.jpg

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. 

20 June, 2016

Robert Frost's "The Oven Bird" and Iconic Realism (Click onto this title to hear and see an ovenbird.)


(Oven Bird photo from Google Images)
The Oven Bird
by Robert Frost
There is a singer everyone has heard,
Loud, a mid-summer and a mid-wood bird,
Who makes the solid tree trunks sound again.
He says that leaves are old and that for flowers
Mid-summer is to spring as one to ten.
He says the early petal-fall is past
When pear and cherry bloom went down in showers
On sunny days a moment overcast;
And comes that other fall we name the fall.
He says the highway dust is over all.
The bird would cease and be as other birds
But that he knows in singing not to sing.
The question that he frames in all but words
Is what to make of a diminished thing. 

Robert Frost's poetry portrays the enigma of humanity through his observations of nature. His poem, "The Oven Bird," is no exception. The high-pitched song of this bird reminds the busy human of the lessons learned through the simplicity of nature.

The iconic structure here is the oven bird, a woodland icon of summer, representing the natural progression of life. In the tenth line, Frost points out, "He says the highway dust is over all." This line, unusual in that it follows vivid, natural imagery, awakens the reader to the conflict between humanity's impact versus the seemingly insignificant bird, singing "not to sing.”

In this verse, Frost illustrates the necessity of a natural sequence, "Mid-summer is to spring as one to ten," and the devastation that can exist when this sequence diminishes. Frost uses this small bird as nature's 'teacher,' indicated in its sweet song.

13 June, 2016

Rodin's "The Kiss" and Iconic Realism

Photo of Rodin's The Kiss from Google Images

August Rodin’s The Kiss illustrates an iconic human act of a loving embrace. However, the two individuals do not touch. The significance of this is the key to understanding the iconic realism in this work of art. These two lovers emulate a common, human activity, yet this embrace, sculpted to express lack of physical contact, creates certain dissonance. The message from this careful configuration could be that humanity longs to embrace life fully, as an act of love; however, certain parameters prevent this occurrence. Other possible interpretations may involve a sense of detachment. Regardless of the interpretation, this sculpture exemplifies iconic realism in that there is an iconic structure, placed in a realistic setting that does not conform to the accepting reality of intimacy. Through this juxtaposition, the artist illustrates cultural liberation, an innovation for the era in which it was sculpted.

31 May, 2016

Harriet Tubman and Iconic Realism


                                                                      (Photos from Google Images)


Harriet Tubman, aka "Moses of the Underground Railroad"

Harriet S. Tubman: Born Araminta Ross, c. March 1822, Dorchester County, Maryland, U.S.A. Died: March 10, 1913 in Auburn, New York, U.S.A.

During the early nineteenth century, when slavery was prevalent in the southern United States, a woman named Harriet Tubman had actually escaped to the north via the “Underground Railroad.” She decided to do something to help the enslaved individuals find freedom in the northern states and even further north in Canada and earned the title of "Moses" of the Underground Railroad. Eventually, she worked as an agent for the Union during the Civil War. (American Biography Channel)

Harriet Tubman illustrates the theory of iconic realism in that she was a former slave, physically weakened by the actions of a former slave owner, yet she rose above her horrific circumstances to become a woman on whom many relied to make their way to freedom. Not only that, but the actual government that established the Fugitive Slave Law of 1793, ended up hiring her as an agent for the Union Army during the American Civil War. 

Here, we have an iconic figure, placing herself in an environment not usually associated with such a woman, placed in that precarious environment in order to bring about a cultural transformation. In this case, that would be freedom for the enslaved. The most current recognition of this amazing woman is that she has been chosen to represent the United States of America on the new 20 dollar bill.  
Click on the link below to view a short biography of Mrs. Harriet Tubman

23 May, 2016

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg and Iconic Realism



But above the gray land and the spasms of bleak dust, which drift endlessly over it, you perceive, after a moment, the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg. The eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg are blue and gigantic—their irises are one yard high. They look out of no face, but, instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a nonexistent nose. Evidently, some wild wag of an oculist set them there to fatten his practice in the borough of Queens, and then sank down himself into eternal blindness, or forgot them and moved away. But his eyes, dimmed a little by many paintless days, under sun and rain, brood on over the solemn dumping ground. F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Chapter 2


In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, The Great Gatsby, the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg peer across the ‘dumping ground’ of American spirit. This example of iconic realism portrays eyes as the ‘windows of the soul’ of a country steeping in corruption and superficiality. Fitzgerald places these eyes on an old billboard, gazing across a field of forgotten possessions, bringing into focus awareness of America’s consciousness to be ever vigilant of the forefathers’ intentions of ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’

12 May, 2016

Bluebirds and iconic realism


The other day, I went for a walk down my street. It felt wonderful to be walking passed the farms again. The goats, sheep, llamas, cows, horses all seemed to perk their heads up and smile at me as I treaded once again upon the familiar path. It was brisk, for I live in New England, and winter doesn't want to give up its stronghold just yet. However, over my head flitted two beautiful bluebirds, their brilliant blue feathers glistening in the bright, early spring sun. At this moment, I realized why these are my favorite birds, and I knew this walk was a blessing.

Then, it occurred to me. These bluebirds were another example of iconic realism, for bluebirds are iconic associations with joy, summer, and general calm. They were flying from tree to tree, realism. Yet, it was so bitterly cold outside. This juxtaposition brought to my attention the cultural dilemma of the importance for us humans to maintain appropriate stewardship of our world. So many beautiful, valuable, fragile creatures' lives are at stake. 

Thank you, oh God, for this lovely lesson!

09 May, 2016

Sydney Owenson's "The Missionary" and Iconic Realism


In her novel, The Missionary, Sydney Owenson presents two religious communities, the Hindu community of 17th century India and the European Roman Catholic community during the Spanish Inquisition. Set in the year, 1620, after the establishment of the British East India Company in the lush jungles and arid desert of Western and Northern India, this tale illustrates a political genesis of European imperialism represented by the two central characters, Hilarion, a 25-year-old Portuguese Franciscan Nuncio and Luxima, a young, widowed Brahmin priestess.  

To some readers of this narrative, Owenson may appear to be telling an adventurous romance in an exotic setting to entertain her aristocratic readers, and this may be partially true. However, her romantic novel illustrates much more, for iconic properties of parochial dynamism reside at the core of each character’s restrictive community. These properties include the intense need for the Missionary to convert non-Christians to Catholicism and the deep conviction of a Hindu’s integration of natural and spiritual beliefs. Furthermore, Owenson creates an unrestrictive, fertile setting, where the Catholic missionary represents dogmatic and imperious Britain and the Hindu priestess, faithful to her own belief and community, represents the fervent hope for freedom of faith found in Owenson’s Catholic Ireland. 

Therefore, in her novel, The Missionary, Sydney Owenson illustrates the semiotic theory of iconic realism by representing two disparate icons, placed within a realistic community, to reveal a cultural reality that strict adherence to an intolerant dogma ultimately leads to the consequence of cultural cynicism.