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Memory, Metaphor, and Aby Warburg's Atlas of Images$
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Christopher D. Johnson

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780801477423

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801477423.001.0001

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Atlas Gazed: Mnemosyne—Its Origins, Motives, and Scope

Atlas Gazed: Mnemosyne—Its Origins, Motives, and Scope

(p.1) 1 Atlas Gazed: Mnemosyne—Its Origins, Motives, and Scope
Memory, Metaphor, and Aby Warburg's Atlas of Images

Christopher D. Johnson

Cornell University Press

This chapter first adduces parallel instances of visual and literary memory to frame Mnemosyne, afterward describing the scope and contents of the Bilderatlas and adumbrating some of the main issues discussed in the book. It then considers Aby Warburg's idiosyncratic terminology in light of the opening panels. Their cosmological content leads to a reading of Warburg's 1923 talk on Hopi ritual dances, a talk strongly informed by Jean Paul's thoughts on metaphor. The chapter ends by introducing Warburg's crucial notion of the “how,” or perhaps even the “way,” of metaphoric distance (“das ‘wie’ der metaphorischen Distanz”) by which he would mediate between the viewer and the things he views.

Keywords:   Mnemosyne, Bilderatlas, Aby Warburg, metaphor, metaphoric distance, visual memory, literary memory

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