cover image The Language of Vision: Meditations on Myth and Metaphor

The Language of Vision: Meditations on Myth and Metaphor

Jamake Highwater. Grove/Atlantic, $23 (342pp) ISBN 978-0-8021-1518-8

Using the 22 pictorial cards of the Tarot deck as springboards for his forays into myth, art and metaphor, Highwater ( The Primal Mind ) offers an adventurous, often profound meditation on the relationship of art and culture. He considers the transformation of art from a sacred into a secular, often commercialized activity and efforts by visionary, avant-garde writers, painters and dancers to tap spirituality. Highwater contrasts a mechanistic Western worldview rooted in soul/body dualism with the ``primal'' outlook of indigenous people for whom art often expresses a communal mentality. He draws on a diverse range of referents, from Mesoamerican codices and the Nazca lines incised in the Peruvian desert to Balinese trance-dances, Dante and the outsider status of literary homosexuals Wilde, Rimbaud and Gide. Advocating a humane, tolerant multiculturalism, Highwater excoriates advertising and mass media as brainwashing efforts inducing people to betray both their individual and group identities. (July)