I Is An Other

I Is An Other

The Secret Life of Metaphor and How It Shapes the Way We See the World

Book - 2011
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Geary's adept explication of the metaphor's role in defining perceptions analyzes how metaphors are used in advertising, scientific discoveries, economics, and politics, as well as how metaphors play in conceptual comprehension and long-term memory.
Publisher: New York : HarperCollins, 2011
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780061710285
Branch Call Number: 428.1 GEA
Characteristics: 296 p. : ill. ; 22 cm


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JCLChrisK Dec 23, 2015

While librarians rarely memorize the Dewey Decimal System as an intentional exercise, common interaction with the numbers makes them stick. The 400s is the realm of language. In the case of public libraries, those shelves are usually small compared to other sections and largely contain reference books like dictionaries and thesauruses. Every so often, however, a really nice prose text is tucked away between the lexicons. I Is an Other is one such work.

The book lays out how we understand the world by way of metaphorical thinking, that it’s nearly impossible for us to comprehend one thing without comparing it to other, unlike things, and we do so instinctively and unconsciously. Those lacking that ability are often placed somewhere on the autism spectrum, and those with synesthesia may be more connected to the heart of most metaphors than the rest of us. Metaphorical thinking presents itself in politics, economics, advertising, science, and more. There are even psychologists who base their therapy techniques on delving into and changing clients’ controlling metaphors.

It is a fascinating meditation for lovers of words, psychologically insightful and potentially pragmatic in many everyday realms, and thoughtful readers will be able to apply the ideas toward becoming stronger, more effective writers.

Aug 01, 2014

Surprisingly attention-grabbing. This book showed quite clearly the ubiquity of the metaphor in our language. I found a short section on the link between autism and metaphors to be particularly interesting.


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JCLChrisK Dec 23, 2015

Metaphorical thinking . . . is the essence of creativity in the sciences as well as the arts. Whenever we solve a problem, make a discovery, or devise and innovation . . . metaphorical thinking takes place. . . .

The paradox of metaphor is that it tells us so much about a person, place, or thing by telling us what that person, place or thing is not. . . . A metaphor is both detour and destination, a digression that gets to the point.

Aristotle identified the mastery of metaphorical thinking as “a sign of genius, since a good metaphor implies an intuitive perception of the similarity in dissimilars.”

JCLChrisK Dec 23, 2015

Metaphor systematically disorganizes the common sense of things--jumbling together the abstract with the concrete, the physical with the psychological, the like with the unlike--and reorganizes it into uncommon combinations. . . .

There is no aspect of our experience not molded in some way by metaphor's almost imperceptible touch. Once you twig to metaphor's modus operandi, you'll find its fingerprints on absolutely everything.

Metaphorical thinking--our instinct not just for describing but for comprehending one thing in terms of another, for equating I with an other--shapes our view of the world, and is essential to how we communicate, learn, discover, and invent.

Metaphor is a way of thought long before it is a way with words.

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