René Magritte's The Reckless Sleeper as Widesite
But perhaps we have merely not yet lived in a world where thinking men and women really stop to listen to each other or to take long and loving looks at each others’ images. Is this impossible? (Gruber 1978)
This question was posed by Howard Gruber at the end of his analysis of recurring images in Charles Darwin's work. It immediately came to mind when, at the Art Institute of Chicago's new exhibit Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926–1938, I stood in front of the artist's 1928 painting, The Reckless Sleeper, on loan from the Tate. At the top of the image is a sleeping man; below, a monolith displaying six icons.
I cited this quote before when describing Wide Images, figures that repeat in the different discourses that format our intellect. Magritte used The Reckless Sleeper to ask the same question, this time with a mysterious and foreboding tone.
Magritte, always the dutiful Surrealist, proposes that our Wide Images form a collection housed in the topos that the unconscious mind navigates through our dreams.
Gruber, Howard. 1978. "Darwin’s ‘Tree of Nature’ and Other Images of Wide Scope." In On Aesthetics in Science. Ed. J. Wechsler. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.