Divine Madness: On Interpreting Literature, Music, and the Visual Arts Ironically

Divine Madness: On Interpreting Literature, Music, and the Visual Arts Ironically

Divine Madness: On Interpreting Literature, Music, and the Visual Arts Ironically

Divine Madness: On Interpreting Literature, Music, and the Visual Arts Ironically

Synopsis

This book provides a theory that enables the concept of irony to be transferred from the literary to the visual and aural domains. Topics include the historical roots of the concept of irony as modes of oral and literary expression, and how irony relates to spatiality.

Excerpt

In the beginning the Word already was.

—The Gospel according to John

When God created the world, he transformed chaos to cosmos. In chaos no distinctions exist. Everything is everything and nothing. However, when heaven is separated from earth, when light is separated from darkness, day from night, good from evil, and woman from man, order arises: cosmos. In the Christian cosmogony this figure of thought is thoroughly developed, but also in many other religions and cultures the basic pattern chaos– separation–cosmos is of the utmost importance. The separation of heaven from earth is the cosmogonic germ not only within Christianity, but also in Babylonian, Egyptian, Indian, Greek, and Icelandic myths.

The cosmic order is therefore built upon separation. Yet, how is this done? The answer is, with the aid of language. In the Old Testament one reads about a God who speaks. It is the articulation of divine words that transforms chaos into intelligible units and hence creates order. First God, and later on Adam, gives names to phenomena, things and creatures. In the opening sentences of the Gospel according to John we even read that God “is” the word: “In the beginning the Word already was. The Word was in God’s presence, and what God was, the Word was. He was with God at the beginning, and through him all things came to be; without him no created thing came into being.” According to this view, a view that has stimulated many Christian and Jewish mystics, language and divinity are practically one and the same, and furthermore inseparably connected to the “act” of separation. Language and the world as one knows it, as one sees it, and as one describes it, are fundamentally connected—if not literally “the same,” they are at least not possible to imagine without each other. Without language, no world. Without the world, no language.

Consequently, the cosmogonic myths are in a way also meta-

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