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Consequently, the image would have been incapable of carrying a narrative, which is the province of poetry alone because its consecutive presentation of elements exists sequentially in time (Lessing 101).The core of Lessing’s argument can be empirically falsified.The only real difference is that poetry theoretically follows a predictable beginning-to-end pattern, whereas visual images invite all sorts of scansion patterns (Rosenberg & Klein).However, really savouring a poem entails a kind of retroactive re-elaboration in which a reader revisits parts of a text to make sense of them.The Beatles are striding over a zebra crossing, and a curious onlooker on the right turns to see what is happening.The girl on the front of the Genesis gatefold is playing croquet, while a nurse arrives in a hurry.This position renders the Rorschach inside/outside contention suspect.Second, we take intertextuality for granted, so it seems unlikely that a visual image can somehow be hermetically sealed from whatever explicatory contexts that can be brought to bear upon it.
This simultaneity allegedly makes it impossible for them to serve as vehicles of narratives.Third, and arguably most important, we routinely consume cultural objects that are not limited to one mode of presentation.For example, we have no trouble understanding the simultaneous presentation of visual images and non-diegetic music in the cinema, leading to what one theorist calls the “audio-visual surreal,” by which he means means that the experience of music is not just auditory but also cinematic, spatial and visual (Richardson).So, too, are the parts of an image consecutively considered.
People investigate images over time, just as they scan the lines of a poem to make sense of it.
In that regard, the consumption of poetry is actually quite like that of pictures.