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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Quest, chaos, creativity: 'Memorandum: a story with paintings'
Author:Rossmann, Jean
Periodical:The English Academy Review (ISSN 1753-5360)
Geographic term:South Africa
About persons:Marlene Van Niekerk (1954-)ISNI
Adriaan Van Zyl (195X-2006)ISNI
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/10131752.2015.1086157
Abstract:This article explores chaos or 'mania' as a leitmotif in 'Memorandum: a story with paintings' by Marlene van Niekerk and Adriaan van Zyl (2006. Cape Town: Human & Rousseau). The author argues that 'mania' is an evocation of the Dionysian forces in life and art: what Friedrich Nietzsche relates to the destructive-transformative power of primordial creative energy, and the urge to cosmic interconnectedness. The tale of Johannes Frekerikus Wiid is a Nietzschean quest in which the protagonist's reconstruction of an overheard conversation - a 'word and allusion mania' (2006, 35) - unexpectedly becomes the catalyst for his transformation into a creator and artist. This article focusses on the death of Wiid's interlocutors (Messrs X and Y) and how their breaths become divine 'afflatus' for Wiid's imagined conclusion to their conversation: an allusive and enigmatic dialogue of their final passage across a personalized river Styx to their cosmic nest. This dialogue is intermediated by Van Zyl's 'Hospital Diptych III', a painting of an empty hospital bed alongside a painting of a tempestuous sea. This visual text is positioned at a critical point in the written narrative and invites a discussion of the relationship between image and text. The mutual interdependence of image and text in Memorandum is exemplary of Peter Wagner's notion of the 'iconotext': 'an artefact in which the verbal and visual signs mingle to produce rhetoric that depends on the copresence of words and images' (1996. Icons, texts, iconotexts: essays on ekphrasis and intermediality. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 16). In conclusion, the author considers the reciprocity between image and text, and how this contributes to the significance of Wiid's quest. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]