The Literary Sign

The "Little" Tower of Babel
Pietr Brueghel · 1563
Kunsthistorisches Museum · Wien

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Contrary to the sciences, which attempt to describe an experiential world as close as possible to the physical environment, the arts can neglect this attempt at univocal correspondence. Literary manifestations with a realistic bias try to depict the subjective universe as faithfully as possible; they try to make the object of experience conform as much as possible with the thing that exists outside experience, so to speak. Literary manifestations that lean toward the fantastic, on the other hand, do not let themselves be bound by a supposed correlation with the world of experience. They make the creation of mind-dependent beings their distinctive trait, as opposed to the so-called realistic literature. The capacity literature has to refer to what depends totally on the mind to exist and to what can exist independent of it - the purely objective as opposed to the objective and subjective - ensues from the relational character that language has as a sign system.