Sometimes completely unexpected connections leap out and smack you in the face. Not too long back I wrote a little on Proven By Science about certain kinds of brain damage that cause aphasias related to ways of seeing. Last night I read the trade paperback comic book by David Mack, Daredevil: Echo – Vision Quest. Today I picked up my current art book in progress, Robert Rauschenberg by Sam Hunter. I wouldn’t have expected these things to link up in any way, but they do.

The character called Echo in the comic was born deaf. Much of this comic is about how she developed her own way of communicating and interpreting the world, form and content matching as we are given a comic largely presented in art resembling collage (it’s very post-McKean – and I don’t know that there is any actual collage involved, as it looks as if it’s almost all painted and drawn), supposedly from her own notebooks.

I learn from the Hunter book that Rauschenberg, probably my favourite living artist, is badly dyslexic, and this is convincingly tied in to his own use of collage. The theory presented is that his way of seeing text is directly related to the way he picks images out in his combine works, their rotations and reversals, but also as a suggestion that dyslexia imposes a different way of seeing and organising ideas – it’s argued well, and quotes from Rauschenberg show that he agrees with this idea.

Another incidental pleasure in reading this Rauschenberg book is the captions for the images, the statements of the physical composition, the medium, of the work: we are used to seeing things like ‘oil on canvas’ under a picture, but of course with Rauschenberg it’s rarely so simple. Perhaps his most famous work, Monogram, for instance, gets “oil, paper, fabric, printed paper, printed reproductions, metal, wood, rubber shoe heel, and tennis ball on canvas, with oil on Angora goat and rubber tire, on wood platform mounted on four casters.” Whoever writes these throws their hands up at times and just writes “combine painting” or “painting and assemblage”.