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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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Translating the Symbol: Warburg and Cassirer

Translating the Symbol: Warburg and Cassirer

(p.110) 4 Translating the Symbol: Warburg and Cassirer
Memory, Metaphor, and Aby Warburg's Atlas of Images

Christopher D. Johnson

Cornell University Press

This chapter illustrates why Warburg is keener to underscore the psychological play of polarities than to insist on their resolution into a stable third term—in other words, why and how Warburg cultivates syncrisis rather than synthesis. It begins by contemplating Warburg's affinities with and differences from Erwin Panofsky and Hermann Usener in order then to pursue an extended comparison of Ernst Cassirer's symbolic forms with Warburg's views on symbol and metaphor, which prove significantly less teleological than those of his friend. While both men make the Renaissance the crucible of their ideas about representation and self-consciousness, the chapter shows that only Warburg settles for an “Ikonologie des Zwischenraums” (iconology of the interval), where polar extremes find no lasting synthetic solution.

Keywords:   polarities, polar extremes, syncrisis, Ernst Cassirer, Renaissance, Ikonologie des Zwischenraums, iconology of the interval, representation, self-consciousness

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