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Polysèmes is a biannual academic journal of intertextual and intermedial studies. It was founded in 1989 by SAIT (French Society for the Study of Arts, Images and Texts). It seeks to explore the relationships between different works of art, different forms of art, from writing to painting, from music to literature. A text can conjure up a painting, just as music can resonate with words. Texts interact with each other. Whether they be verbal, visual or musical, the signs used in all arts echo one another. A book may point to or hide other books. It may evoke paintings it cannot paint and music it cannot play.

Latest issue
18 | 2017
L'immobilité vive

Intense Immobility
Edited by Isabelle Gadoin and Pascale Tollance

This issue proposes to pursue its scrutiny of the dialogue between text and image, by looking into these shards of time that the « sister arts » offer us, these moments in which stasis and movement combine, since the Latin « momentum » means both motion / impulse and weight / importance. With the still life (Stilleven, Stillleben), painting offers a perfect example of the synthesis between the passing of time and its inscription in space. But the moment finds many other forms of expression in the visual arts: we can think of the moments of surprise produced by an encounter or a revelation, moments of terror and fright, moments of fascination and rapture, or moments of grace. The image seems to be able to counter its fixity and accommodate time, or conversely exhibits its power to freeze things in order to mark a point of intensity which bears the trace of an event. Whether it emphasizes motion or petrification, vacillation or stasis, the image deploys the full spectrum of its power to convey « intense immobility », « une immobilité vive » in the words of Roland Barthes (Camera Lucida). Texts too have many ways of expressing the tension between movement and stasis. This issue looks at the way in which texts use images, whether real or virtual, literal or figurative, to suggest moments of time, or even claim the power of the image, in the process which Jean-Luc Nancy calls « faire image » ‒ by which he means « to highlight, to stress, to underline, to make present ». « Faire image » can describe the suspension, obliteration or collapse of meaning, a point where the visual and the aural dimensions fuse, as Pierre Fédida writes in « The Indistinct Breath of the Image ». With this definition of the image as « a freezing of language, the moment of failure of the word » (Fédida), one should also be able to look into the questions of metaphorical displacement and of the figural, in its connection with, or independence from, the visual field.

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