- Bill Harrison
- New York, NY
- United States
This conversation is closed.
"Language is fossil poetry," said Emerson. Can we use metaphor to de-fossilize thought?
For many people, language is too often habitual thought. We can speak and write intelligently and coherently without necessarily seeing vivid pictures in our mind's eye, or feeling the strong feelings words are meant to convey.
Yet, TEDster James Geary has persuasively argued that language, and in particular, metaphor, plays a strong role in shaping the way we think, and by extension the way we feel and behave.
Geary elaborates upon this idea in his book, I is an Other, which I recommend highly:
In his book, Geary suggests that the formula for metaphor, X = Y, is an effective method of communication, because "neurons that fire together wire together," so our brains make new connections as we compare/contrast two ideas in our minds, which "shakes up" unconscious fossil poetry.
My question is, can you apply the formula X = Y to connect two ideas/disciplines or "shake up" the way you and other people see/experience the world? What makes the metaphor interesting and effective?
"All men are brothers." If you think of how you see family members and how you see strangers, it's an interesting dichotomy, given that people everywhere are far more similar than we are different. Various religious traditions (and the UDHR, and Martin Luther King, Jr.) use the language of "brothers and sisters" or "brotherhood" in order to expand an in-group (those we easily empathize with and care about) beyond immediate family.
You can use the word "brother" or "sister" unthinkingly, unconscious of the meaning, or you can think of the relationship you have with a sibling and juxtapose that with the way you see a stranger, a member of a different race, or a person with whom you disagree vehemently.
Maybe that's a bad example. But can you use X = Y to come up with a creative metaphor and/or analogy to improve how we see/experience the world?