Monday, July 19, 2004

Picture his words

Alberto Manguel explores the relationship between words and images in the current issue of Geist.

Perhaps the strongest, clearest exposition of the relationship or conflict was given in the eighteenth century by the German scholar Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. . . For Lessing, words could (or should) fully describe and explore the emotions; images, however, required greater restraint and found the power of the emotions. Lessing pointed out that a poet can depict the emotions of a character at any given moment and allow the reader to follow his or her progress through the narrative; a painter or sculptor is bound to the instant and is therefore constrained to a single expression. For Lessing, one “reading” evolves in time, the other in space; both require the active participation of the audience.

In his lovely anecdotal way, Manguel's essay is an ode to the comic book. Words and images, time and space, serving imagination, politics, absurdity, all.

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