The figure in the icon is not meant to represent literally what Peter or John or any of the apostles looked like, or what Mary looked like, nor the child, Jesus. But, the orthodox painter feels, Jesus of Nazareth did not walk around Galilee faceless. The icon of Jesus may not look like the man Jesus two thousand years ago, but it represents some *quality* of Jesus, or his mother, or his followers, and so becomes an open window through which we can be given a new glimpse of the love of God.
Pop is about speaking everybody's language. The imagery and iconography we instantly recognize. When you can rely on things that the public already knows, you're dealing with Pop.
But what is the use of the humanities as such? Admittedly they are not practical, and admittedly they concern themselves with the past. Why, it may be asked, should we engage in impractical investigations, and why should we be interested in the past? The answer to the first question is: because we are interested in reality. Both the humanities and the natural sciences, as well as mathematics and philosophy, have the impractical outlook of what the ancients called vita contemplativa as opposed to vita activa. But is the contemplative life less real or, to be more precise, is its contribution to what we call reality less important, than that of the active life? The man who takes a paper dollar in exchange for twenty-five apples commits an act of faith, and subjects himself to a theoretical doctrine, as did the mediaeval man who paid for indulgence. The man who is run over by an automobile is run over by mathematics, physics and chemistry. For he who leads the contemplative life cannot help influencing the active, just as he cannot prevent the active life from influencing his thought. Philosophical and psychological theories, historical doctrines and all sorts of speculations and discoveries, have changed, and keep changing, the lives of countless millions. Even he who merely transmits knowledge or learning participates, in his modest way, in the process of shaping reality - of which fact the enemies of humanism are perhaps more keenly aware than its friends. It is impossible to conceive of our world in terms of action alone. Only in God is there a Coincidence of Act and Thought as the scholastics put it. Our reality can only be understood as an interpenetration of these two.
Fascinated by the great symbols of the collective history, I use them as an alphabet to communicate.
The West, for many centuries, has been dominated by a highly rationalistic mindset that presumes to express and explain the nature of God through words. The East has only recently begun to express its understanding of God in those ways. For the most part, Eastern Christianity has always recognized that it can only say so much about God in finite, human ways before it must go silent before the mystery of the Infinite and Unspeakable. Instead of defining ultimate reality in theological concepts, the East has relied upon its artists, musicians, and poets to proclaim what can only be understood in the heart.