» Image versus Literary Images

The relationship between image and text seems to be one of the most complex and at the same time most productive philosophical and aesthetic questions. Is the very line, the stroke of the pen which gives rise to the letter, an image already? In what other ways could the visual world be shared than through language?

In the history of western thought, the worlds of visuality and literature were a popular instrument of creating antipoles. While the world of the image, within the classic line of thought, was linked with a sensual grasp of the world and seen as symptomatic for the “less developed” forms of society and for groups of illiterate persons, the world of writing belonged to educated people and thus often representatives of social elites and politics. Aesthetics also taught us for a long time that literature is an art capturing the phenomenon of time, since it is able to mediate its passing, while visual arts can embrace space which can be unfolded or materialized by painting or sculpture.

However, as is known since the times of Kant, space and time are inseparable phenomena, so literature and visual arts, too, coexist together, taking up more or less distinct hybrid forms. Visual poetry can be seen as one of the most explicit examples of such natural connection. Even the renowned teaching of iconology tells us that images are not mere physical expressions, clearly delimited codes of visual communication, but they also exist as our dreams, our memories. Images are therefore found not only in the field of visual arts but also in literature, spoken word, and even music; for they are a tool of our thought.

What forms can image in literature take up then?

JOSEF FULKA, philosopher (Institute of Philosophy of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic) Word-motion, or what image can and cannot do

PETRA KOČOVÁ, curator (Gallery of West Bohemia in Pilsen), Image and Word in Czech Art of the 1960s

FRANTIŠEK BURDA, cultural theorist and founder of Ars Poetica

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