November 4, 2012

The Hypericon and Appeal

What makes a hypericon a hyper icon?

To put it bluntly, the main qualifying characteristic of these multi-stable images is their promiscuity; their ability and willingness to get down on all literary fours to satisfy the needs of the literary user. For Derrida it would have been, "icon" and for McCloud, the hypericon would have endangered his 3 main categories of icon, possibly belonging to the realms of ideas/philosophy, practicality, and physical representation(McCloud 27) . Using the "Dabbit" (duck-rabbit) as an example, it practically shatters those boundaries, for looking at the image not only calls attention to its "more iconic" physical representations (as both duck and rabbit) but its various philosophical, psychological, contextual relationships that actually make up the hypericons meaning as a singular, multi-stable image.

Promiscuity then, in a Derridian sense, would be best evident by the hack-slash; the duck rabbit's referential and negative power as a sign would be amorphous, and in those contexts that is has been presented, doesn't limit itself to a singular expanding knowledge of reference, but an ever-shifting epicenter whose casual links are as unpredictable as cancer.

Mitchell also points to this promiscuity, although, that particular word is not mentioned; its salacious nature is dressed in a slender silver(lining) skirt:

"Most notable, perhaps, is their [metapictures] ability to move across the boundaries of popular and professional discourses. The metapicture is a piece of movable cultural apparatus, one which may serve a marginal role as illustrative device or a central role as a kind of summary image...that encapsulates an entire episteme, a theory of knowledge" (Mitchell 49).

It should be noted however, that these links to episteme or theories of knowledge do not, like genre, have to stay resolute in their fixings; the hypericon's best ability is, as Mitchell says, mobility.

What does this have to do with appeals?

Well for one, it is appealing, so there must be some link. The other explanation is equally obvious; the prompt and circumstance of being in a university setting that is encouraging such abstractedness. I would suggest, that in relation to appeals in their Killingsworth worth, that this before mentioned promiscuity also extends itself to breach all four of his categories; that a hypericon's trope is their function as metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, and irony.
First, metaphor.

As Killingsworth notes, the metaphor is identification (Killingsworth 123). A process of linking two dissimilar objects. One might instantly jump and say that the "Dabbit" does this by showing the duck and the rabbit as one.


But seriously, no. The metaphor, while still identification, is clarified to link conceptual gaps from the abstract to the concrete; such examples that relate to the human body. The metaphor then, in the case of the "Dabbit" would be its rooting of vision psychology to the metapicture. This is of course a bit problematic for Killingsworth because the "Dabbit" itself is not rooted, it's multi-stable. Yet, this can be further defeated with the claim that metaphor points to the "rhetorical aim of whole discourses" (Killingsworth 124). The "Dabbit" gives clear indication to what vision psychology is concerned about.

As for metonymy, this is up for grabs. By the qualifications that Killingsworth gives as necessary-"substituting a thing for a closely associated thing" (Killingsworth 127) it doesn't really work. One could argue that it does relate to art, and by its nature as a metapicture its associated to visual work lends it its interpretive frame, but even this is a loose link. However, it does have the same function as metonymy does, to be reductive, and to depersonalize (Killingsworth 128); in other words, to encapsulate. This has already been evident by what Killingsworth has referred to as the hypericon.

Synecdoche bears a similar problem, the "Dabbit" physical appearance has no "internal part necessary" (Killingsworth 130) to what is trying to convey or mean. However, like the metonym, it functions the same way; "It is a device of emphasis" (Killingsworth 131) by which it focuses the attention on how the picture works, how vision manifests itself, and how this particular metapicture can serve a single representation for an entire subset.

Irony itself is used to distance, and create a new community of knowledge that separates us from our own naive selves. The "Dabbit" while not overtly winking at us, is still "ironing" the situation through its self-referentiality. The attention it calls to the role of perception, of beholder, of perspective, bring to light the inner-workings of how we form/are formed as an audience. Upon enlightenment we reach a new "community of understanding and feel distanced" (Killingsworth 134) from our past mentality.

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