Summer 1987 • Vol. IX No. 3 Nonfiction |

Paul Klee and the Fantasy of Synthesis

The desire to merge images and words is haunted by the fear that if the two are brought together, either might misrepresent, misplace, or even victimize the other. It is not unusual, therefore, to catch echoes in critical commentary of prejudice against iconography or to discover literary episodes in which an image, like that of Medusa's head, ruins those who gaze upon it and renders them impotent by destroying their verbal powers. Consider, for example, the death of Actaeon (Ovid, The Metamorphoses, III) and how it follows his visual knowledge of Diana. The sight of her nakedness initiates his metamorphosis into the shape of a deer and destroys his ability to fashion words and, thus, to save himself from the pursuing hunters. It is also not uncommon to find instances that reverse the blame and accuse words of misplacing or contaminating the visual image. Occasionally, artists have declined to title their works because they believe that words are intrusive and carry the impurities o

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