Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I is An Other: The Secret Life of Metaphor and How It Shapes the Way We See the World by James Geary

Perhaps I've interpreted metaphor in too narrow a light or perhaps I've seen the use of metaphor in divers places and not named it metaphor. Geary's book is a journey into the pervasive use of metaphors in all areas of communication.

In the first few chapters Geary explores the meaning of metaphor and the implications of that meaning. Having taught children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, I found his explanation of why these children and adults cannot understand metaphors or figurative language illuminating.

His explanation of why young children only comprehend simple metaphors is also a succinct look at how we grow into metaphors. You must have experiences in order to make connections.

" And, just as the appropriate set of associated commonplaces must be in place in order to understand a complex conceptual metaphor, you must know something of an analogy's source if you are to understand how it informs, or misinforms the target."

And he reminds the reader that, "Metaphors, whether in poems or advertisements, only work with our active collusion. Metaphors are born plotters and we are their eager co-conspirators."

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