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[Xmca-l] Re: Imagination

Hi Annalisa,

yes, language is full of dead, dying or dormant metaphors, especially among words imported from other languages. But a metaphor which is unnoticed by most may still be vivid in the minds of some, just as every word will carry a mix of private and known-to-be-public (cultural) associations. To some extent it may be possible to assume that a particular audience will be alert to particular associations (if we know, for example that they have shared a particular experience - reading a book, watching a film, being at tan event) so that we can imagine what they will be likely to imagine when they hear what we say but it is always important to remember that this is far from being a precise science!

A special feature of metaphor, I think, is that it actively invites hearers to draw from their own experiences to flesh out an idea with a more direct, embodied and felt response. If I say that something is 'like' something else I am inviting others to work out what resemblances I have in mind but if I say something IS something else I am inviting others to feel what that might mean. If I say, for example, 'so-and-so is a pig' I can leave it to you to draw from your own personal associations with so-and-so and with pigs to find your own associations. Of course this is all richly enrobed with garments of cultural meaning (pigs have special significance for followers of different religions and how we think of them may depend more on stories like 'the three little pigs' than on first hand experience) but using metaphors still, I think, helps to hold open a (metaphorical) door to let others' experiences wash over our ideas.

When the metaphor is a leap from one crusty 'mindy' notion to another - 'metaphor is synthesis' the associations with embodied experience may be more difficult to follow but I think there is still a sense of openness to personal forms of understanding.

All the best,


-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Annalisa Aguilar
Sent: 15 December 2014 00:42
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Imagination

Esteemed discussants!

In consideration of metaphor as synthesis and considering the word _synthesis_ itself, I looked further into the etymology of synthesis, I missed the "syn-" prefix which means "with" So it is really "with putting, with placing" or better, "putting with, placing with."

I wondered, is it possible that _synthesis_ itself is a metaphor (an older metaphor so that it no longer feels to be a metaphor) from an embodied action of placing or putting something somewhere with something from somewhere else?

"Putting with" doesn't seem so different than "carrying over."

Yet there are subtle differences!

"Putting with" seems to be taking two or more things and putting them together (smash up, anyone?), while "carrying over" seems to me taking one thing and transferring it from one domain to a new one, while still maintaining the memory of how it was once used.

In other words, a synthesis may not reveal its generative properties, while a metaphor maintains its utility in its newer application (meaning, anyone?). And yet, a metaphor's original use (its original domain), may be lost (as in the case _synthesis_ as a word was transferred from the domain of an embodied act, as is done with a metaphor).

There's more! A synthesis could also be the blending of an object with a domain (a thing in a place, a thing *with* a place), not just blending of objects, and this is why a metaphor _can be_ a synthesis.

Hence, could it be that a synthesis is a metaphor and a metaphor is a synthesis?

I like the infinite loopiness of that, with an emphasis on the loopiness! :)

Kind regards,



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