Where Words and Images Collide: Will Maclean’s Intertextual Collaborations

Lindsay Blair, Donald Blair

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


We are going to address the issue of word and image, the much-contested possibility of the generation of meaning from a combination of these two different types of representation. The words of Michel Foucault in The Order of Things epitomises the perceived and generally accepted dichotomy:
[T]he relation of language to painting is an infinite relation. It is not that words are imperfect, or that, when confronted by the visible, they prove insuperably inadequate. Neither can be reduced to the other’s terms: it is in vain that we say what we see; what we see never resides in what we say. And it is in vain that we attempt to show, by the use of images, metaphors or similes, what we are saying (Foucault 1970: 9).
Yet, Foucault’s analysis of Diego Velasquez’s Las Meninas as metapicture — as though pictorial representation were a form of discourse on the nature of representation itself — is now well known (Foucault 1982: 3-16). In addition, his extended conversation with Magritte on words and images in This Is Not a Pipe is imbued with the resolution to re-define the ‘reality’ to which words and images refer (Foucault 1982). W. J. T. Mitchell in his comprehensive Picture Theory seems to go along with Foucault, so that both, in their different ways, are committed to finding ways to speak about word and image: Mitchell’s text is an extended analysis of the ways that images and words collide (Mitchell 1994).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationScottish Writing After Devolution
Subtitle of host publicationEdges of the New
EditorsMarie-Odile Hédon , Camille Manfredi, Scott Hames
Place of PublicationEdinburgh
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9781474486200, 9781474486194
ISBN (Print)9781474486170, 9781474486187
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2022


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