Kaysen: imperfect images

In “Mind vs. Brain,” Kaysen refers to an image that can be viewed as either a face or a vase, or both–another example of ekphrasis in action. This is what she has in mind. Here are some other versions of what is known in psychology as bi-stable illusion. This one interested Freud. And this one the philosopher Wittgenstein.

And, of course, there is the extended ekphrasis we get at the end, returning to the Vermeer painting at The Frick Museum in New York City, from which she gets her title. This is what she has in mind.

Notice how these fitful, imperfect images speak to her argument. One version of a “thesis statement” could be the following from “Mind vs. Brain”: “No doubt, no analysis” (141).

What might these images tell us, or to use with the metonymy of images, what might they illuminate about: Kaysen’s project–what she’s doing in this essay? any essay, as memoir?


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