Monday, November 27, 2006

Conceptual Metaphors.

What is reading?
There is definitely something to be offered by a study of Cognitive Poetics. I am quite intrigued by Conceptual Metaphor, the basic images beneath how we feel and respond. Behind “The book was like a banquet” or the “The book was a wholesome stew for many readers”—simile and metaphor—is a conceptual metaphor: READING NOURISHES. Conceptual metaphor underlies how we perceive the world, certainly how we read. It is the basis, in many ways, for poetics or making. Peter Stockwell, in his introduction to cognitive poetics, takes up one conceptual metaphor for reading: READING IS A JOURNEY. This notion lies obviously behind such books as The Lord of the Rings or Gulliver’s Travels, where the story, as with a journey, grows with the telling.

Reading is transportation (says Stockwell): we cross into a new land; we track characters; we pursue the bends of a plot. Often, this metaphorical journey influences our immediate responses to a book. “It didn’t really go anywhere, for me.” “I just couldn’t see where the author was going.” "It is a journey that the reader takes on with the main protagonist Ka to his homeland Kars...." (id it is in an interesting review of Orhan Pamuk's Snow.). This way of looking at a book comes to mind readily and suggests something else. Readers store obvious conceptual metaphors and writers who write works outside these frames of reference do so at their peril—at the risk of being seriously misunderstood.
Transportation into another world leads to other expectations: the world and the book will be bridged, there will be minimal departure between this and that, and the bridging will allow the reader to make a participatory resonse through characters—apply this to that.
Reading is inclusion.

Marechera’s novels, however, do not rest upon READING IS A JOURNEY. That it why his absence of endings is seen as a lack: every journey goes somewhere.

Some further obvious conceptual metaphors might be:

THE BOOK IS A MIRROR (which portrays human life).
THE BOOK IS A MACHINE (which is ordered like a clock).

Of which there are deliberate anti-types: Beckett’s The Unnameable; Sterne’s Tristram Shandy.
THE BOOK IS MEMORY. The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, Umberto Eco.
THE BOOK IS A DEBATE. The Trial of Christopher Okigbo, Ali A Mazrui.
But what about stranger ones?

THE NOVEL IS A WEB.
“And the House of Hunger clung firmly to its own: after all, the skeletons in its web still had sparks of life in their minute bones”. Marechera.

THE POEM IS AN ANIMAL. Ted Hughes.
THE STORY IS A BUBBLE. Eskimo myth.

I wonder what conceptual metaphors are behind blogging?

10 comments:

Unsane said...

Have you discovered the link between Black Sunlight and Georges Bataille, yet? And Jazz? And an acid/hashish trip?

As for blogs, I would link them to viral infections.

eshuneutics said...

The answer is "no"...not yet. Viral infection is good. Like the sneezing from the flu I am in the midst of.

Unsane said...

From Wikipedia. Base materialism
Bataille developed base materialism during the late 1920s and early 1930s as an attempt to break with mainstream materialism. Bataille argues for the concept of an active base matter that disrupts the opposition of high and low and destabilises all foundations. In a sense the concept is similar to Spinoza's neutral monism of a substance that encompasses both the dual substances of mind and matter posited by Descartes, however it defies strict definition and remains in the realm of experience rather than rationalisation. Base materialism was a major influence on Derrida’s deconstruction, and both share the attempt to destabilise philosophical oppositions by means of an unstable ‘third term’.


Sorry to hear about your cold. If it helps, I had minor eye(lid) surgery yesterday. Oh woe was I.

Unsane said...

The solar annulus is the intact anus of her body at eighteen years to which nothing sufficiently blinding can be compared except the sun, even though the anus is night. http://www.greylodge.org/occultreview/glor_010/solar.htm

Black Sunlight?

eshuneutics said...

This "active base matter" is reminiscent of the alchemical prima materia brought to life. The "solar annulus" sounds so Marecheran given the context of Devil's End--itself a parody of medieval concepts of a farting and belching Satan: corruption absolute. What an interesting source you have discovered!

Unsane said...

Yes-- and there are whole sections about being swallowed by the base matter and then excreted.

Julaybib said...

I've been exploring various forms of language analysis recently, including these new forms of literary criticism. My problem with cognitive poetics would pertain to problems with cognitive psychology per se - and I speak as someone with an autism teaching qualification, a disorder where cognitive psychology dominates discourse. As a science, it over-rates itself, makes dubious links to evolutionary biology and is extremely bad at explaining the social and emotional facets of reality on its own. My preference is for CDA, but I am as yet an apprentice of this approach.

eshuneutics said...

I understand what you mean: I too would have questions about aspects of cognitive psychology--most aspects of psychology, however, have unforunate links somewhere. It is the nature of the beast. I can't say I found much in the application of cognitive poetics to disturb me. It has grown up a lot since the early days of I.A.Richards and does offer a model for reading...one that makes more sense than that advocated by political initiatives in reading reform.

Id it is said...

Reading's an extrapolation.(with productive outcomes)

Blogging's a...
VENT...
POSE...
CONSOLATION...
AN ESCAPE!
(hehe)
I apologize for any hurt the above may have caused.

eshuneutics said...

Naughty!
But yes, that has to be another key conceptual metaphor: READING IS ESCAPE.

INSPIRATION=to breathe=FLATUS=wind=to inflate=FLATULENCE. There is a lot of this on some blogs.