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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!

24 May, 2017

Attack of the Georgia June Bugs

I had to remove the photo of the June Bug. 
It just gave me the creeps.

With warm days behind and ahead of us, my mind immediately traveled to a memory of one laundry night, many years ago, when I lived in Atlanta, Georgia. If you have never encountered a Georgia June bug, well, let me tell you... you are fortunate indeed. The darn things are about two inches long and click and sputter around lights at night all summer long. ugh! ugh! (worth 2 ughs!) Anyway, here's the poem:

Attack of the Georgia June Bugs

Snugly against my right hip,
I carry laundry, clean and folded,
in a wicker basket
on a hot, southern night.

Georgia June bugs
encircle my head.
Zipping to and fro, their wings roar
like ghosts of B-52 bombers.

I run to escape 
their clicking laughs;
laundry jostles 
over the edges of the basket.

Quickly. I swoop 
to retrieve escaping bras and panties
before anyone sees me 
or those bugs get nearer.

“Don’t you dare fly into my hair!”
Ah, at last! 
I’m inside my apartment.
Only one goal: to chug a cold beer.

© Jeanne I. Lakatos

21 May, 2017

Praying Mantis

The praying mantis doesn't usually bite the head off of her man while copulating. Apparently, some scientists had at one time starved some of these creatures, and the femme fatales decided the only recourse was to snap off the heads of their men. 

Photo from Google Images

Mantis Religiosa

I, the Praying Mantis
prey upon lesser species
with ultimate finesse.
My wings provide swift flight. 
My auditory channels
hear the smallest whimper,
and I attack my prey
with a lust that must
be satisfied.

When I am famished,
I thrust my acidic sap
upon the male of my species,
and while copulating,
I internally debate
his future. (Oh, I can multi-task.)

Occasionally, magnificently
I’ve been known
to snap his head right off
and masticate his splendid juice
blending our vital fluids
to finish off my day 
with a cocktail of divine love.

Then, I bestow the gift,
my majestic beauty,
as I wrap our offspring
in a glutinous cocoon
nestled upon a woody limb
to endure winter's strife,
and the cycle prevails:
we, the preying mantid. 

© Jeanne I. Lakatos

15 May, 2017

Sydney Owenson's Application of the Semiotic Theory of Iconic Realism

The following is from the first chapter of my book: 

Woven from the threads of disenfranchisement and enchantment, Owenson's writing captures the semiotic essence of the philosophically and politically inspired Romantic era, in which the grand is intentionally written to be grander in terms of style, topics and themes, where literary characterizations align with political forces to challenge the core of that which comprises a civil society.

The field of semiotics defines the significance of meaning in terms of its relative interpretations by Owenson’s audiences. Based on its historical and philosophical frames of reference, an audience assigns a variety of interpretations to any piece of literature. As Mario J. Valdés asserts, “The meaning we construe to any statement or any text is tentative; indeterminacy is controlled by a system of signs we accept as determinate in order to establish a temporary identity to the text.” [1] 

In alignment with this thought, Owenson’s readers interact with her as author and interpret the material independently of each other, yet in a way that is inclusive of the history and culture of all parties. These inclusive qualities of specific communities comprise the basis for the establishment of certain elements to be identified as iconic.

Iconic representation of literature within any community develops from that community’s awareness of the connection between the writer’s endeavour and human consciousness. When the community understands that each writer is contributing to the possible transformation of consciousness, fresh ideas offer the possibility for growth in the potential for change. 

Reformation occurs when the community also understands the historicity of the artists’ renderings in correlation with the current status of the community’s mind-set. Eventually, the cultures within a community, inclusive of the writers and those who comprise the audience, form a semiotic alliance that incorporates the language, philosophy and history of the culture. Once these elements align, a tolerance emerges that provides opportunity for innovation.... (pp.18-19)

[1] Mario Valdés,  Hermeneutics of Poetic Sense: Critical Studies of Literature, Cinema, and Cultural History (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998) p.15.

12 May, 2017

Happy Mother's Day!

I've posted this poem on both of my sites. This doesn't have anything to do with iconic realism, but realism, yes. It's a verse that, hopefully, illustrates the flowing bond of memory and emotions between Mother and Daughter. 

Sleeping Mother with Child by Christian Krohg, 1883


Behind her sleeping eyes,
a youthful face remains within
the gentle embrace of her heart,
impish blue eyes, trying her patience,
the quiet soft puffs of sleeping breath.

She smiles, wondering
what this wee one dreamt,
so small, so peaceful,
then erupting passion
and the sighing relief in its passing,
growing, knowing that surely
there will return a forgiving kiss.

Eyes closed, she remains
in cherished supplication
wafting on the quiet breath
of the one who calls her Mom.

© Jeanne I. Lakatos

06 May, 2017

Dandelion Wine Recipe

2017 is shaping to be an excellent year for the dandelion crop. Below is a recipe for dandelion wine I copied from my mother's recipe box many many years ago, but I've no idea of the origin of this recipe: 

Dandelion Wine Recipe
1 quart dandelion blossoms- packed solidly
1 gallon water-boil water for 10 minutes
Add blossoms to water and cook for 10 more minutes. 
After cooking, strain off the blossoms
Add 3 1/2 lbs. sugar to juice and 2 packets of dried yeast
Add about 4 oranges whole and 5 lemons whole
Add 1/2 lb. raisons
Soak one week with raisons. 
Stir well at least once a day while soaking during the 2 weeks.

26 April, 2017

Sydney Owenson (Lady Morgan) and Diverse Characterizations in The Missionary

From my book, pp. 33-34: 

In her 1811 novel, The Missionary, Sydney Owenson (Lady Morgan) uses realism in conjunction with an icon to illustrate her views on cultural adaptation. In the following passage, she describes the realistic nature of Hilarion as a young, conflicted priest, who sacrifices earthly pleasures to honor his faith:
All that could touch in the saint, or impose in the man breathed around him: the sublimity of religion, and the splendour of beauty, the purity of faith, and the dignity of manhood; grace and majesty, holiness and simplicity, diffusing their combined influence over his form and motions, his look and air. (The Missionary, p. 82)
In contrast, Luxima, the Hindu Priestess, embodies beauty with spirituality as she interacts with the Missionary through her “dovelike eyes and innocent hands…raised in same direction, for gazing on the glories of the firmament, a feeling of rapturous devotion, awakened and exalted by the enthusiasm of the Missionary, filled her soul.” (The Missionary, p. 121) Not only do her characters contain realistic qualities that independently represent their iconic associations, but her setting this tale in India, provides the other realistic aspect of Owenson’s novel, for in the seventeenth century, India is the focus of European nations, who are seeking new economic and political territories to whet their imperial appetites. Moreover, the Catholic Church, having made so many dissenters from its powerful stance, needed to expand its philosophical territories, so the emergence of missionaries became a reality in India during the early seventeenth century. Portuguese missionaries do travel to India for the purpose of religious conversion of the non-Christian Hindus. Owenson draws upon observations from the historical documentations of Francois Bernier (1625-1688) to provide anthropological references as a means to create realistic characterizations, as she brings two people together in a Garden of Eden to form the genesis of a consciousness that alerts her audience to the possibilities of overzealous proselytizing of any stalwart community.
            Owenson represents iconic realism with the placement of Hilarion, the Franciscan Priest, an icon of Jesus Christ and European philosophy, physically and spiritually immersed with Indian culture through his interaction with an Indian Priestess, the icon of 17th century Hindu community and victimized follower of a faith and culture that is targeted for conversion. As Thomas Kavanagh points out:
The signified meanings, instead of being accepted as such, instead of taking us outside the text as text, become themselves the signifiers of the iconic signs, of a continuing movement, of a second temporality definable only within the parameters of the text.” [1] 
Hilarion is a Catholic Missionary because he is the nephew to the Archbishop of Lisbon. Although her description of his qualities is quite flattering, under his cloak of religiosity, his true nature is simply that of an ordinary man. As a true follower of Jesus Christ, he transfigures into a real person with real emotions and real anxieties regarding the bureaucracy of his organized religion. In Owenson’s portrayal of him as an icon set within the realism of seventeenth century India, he signifies two elements: the Catholic Church of the Inquisition period and imperialistic England, whose dogmatic government maintains its own mission to convert the Irish to the British consciousness. John Locke, in his essay on the “Powers of the Commonwealth” refers to this form of bureaucracy in government and religion:
For no man or society of men having a power to deliver up their preservation, or consequently the means of it, to the absolute will and arbitrary dominion of another, whenever anyone shall go about to bring them into such a slavish condition, they will always have a right to preserve what they have not a power to part with, and to rid themselves of those who invade this fundamental, sacred, and unalterable law of self-preservation for which they entered society. And thus the community may be said in this respect to be always the supreme power, but not as considered under any form of government, because this power of the people can never take place till the government be dissolved. [2]
Thus, the hierarchy of authority within human society creates significant conflict of interest for those whose consciousness differs from the status quo. Owenson demonstrates this conflict through her diverse characterizations.

[1] Thomas Kavanagh, “Time and Narration: Indexical and Iconic Models” in Comparative Literature, MLN, 86. 6 (1971), p. 832.

[2] John Locke, in Howard R. Penniman (ed.), John Locke: On Politics and Education (Roslyn, New York:  Walter J. Black, Inc., 1947), p. 152. 

18 April, 2017

Fractal Force

A few years ago, another blogger gave our poetry group a line prompt to use for our weekly poetry read. The line was as follows: "I am a crooked line." Well, the first thought that came to my mind was FRACTALS! To view more fractals and listen to some ambient music, click HERE.

Photo from Bing Images

Fractal Force
I am a crooked line.
My course
parallels spirit
weaves between
giving and receiving
on the fringe of

© Jeanne I. Lakatos