Cognition & Reality

Friday, 6 August 2010

The Motive for Metaphor

Filed under: Uncategorized — drtone @ 7:51 am

One of my favorite poems:

The Motive for Metaphor
By Wallace Stevens

You like it under the trees in autumn,
Because everything is half dead.
The wind moves like a cripple among the leaves
And repeats words without meaning.

In the same way, you were happy in spring,
With the half colors of quarter-things,
The slightly brighter sky, the melting clouds,
The single bird, the obscure moon—

The obscure moon lighting an obscure world
Of things that would never be quite expressed,
Where you yourself were never quite yourself
And did not want nor have to be,

Desiring the exhilarations of changes:
The motive for metaphor, shrinking from
The weight of primary noon,
The A B C of being,

The muddy temper, the hammer
Of red and blue, the hard sound—
Steel against intimation—the sharp flesh,
The vital, arrogant, fatal, dominant X.

__________________________________________

In recent times, linguists, philosophers and cognitive psychologists have become interested in metaphor as a chief mode of both expression and learning, as exemplified in the work of George Lakoff. It could be said that metaphor is at the heart of our understanding of the world. For example, Piaget made much of the equivalences his children made among and between objects and parts of the body. In my practice, I frequently offer a metaphor as a way of elucidating a situation or understanding a problem. Through metaphor, we  build a bridge (a metaphor!) between phenomenal experience and noumenal reality.

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