October 6, 2012

V for Visual Rhetoric

In Chapter 2 of "Understanding Comics", Scott McCloud explores the ways in which cartooning simplifies an icon--"any image used to represent a person, place, thing, or idea" (McCloud 27)--in order to amplify its meaning and focus our attention on it.  He specifically addresses the abstraction of human faces, noting the universalizing function it serves through viewer-identification, and the ability of this function to merge our identity with our awareness by drawing our attention away from the image and onto the message being communicated. "If who I am matters less, maybe what I say will matter more" (McCloud 37). When we look at a realistic representation of a human face, we see the face of another. But when the image is more abstracted, we see ourselves. “That’s the theory, anyway (McCloud 37).

This concept can be understood by looking at the graphic novel/movie V for Vendetta. The main character V is always seen wearing his trademark Guy Fawkes mask and a straight brown-haired wig. Because the mask is a strong abstraction of a human face, the reader/viewer identifies with it and internalizes the message he is meant to convey. The mask is an icon.

V: Beneath this mask, there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask, there is an idea, Mr. Creedy. And ideas are bulletproof.

Don't want to be "exploited!"

One of the ideas that I struggled with this week is in Bahktin’s theory Discourse In The Novel. In his work, he states, “What is more, all socially significant world views have the capacity to exploit the intentional possibilities of language through the medium of their specific concrete instancing.” This was confusing to me because the term “exploit” usually has a negative connotation. However, upon realizing this I wondered why I felt the world “exploit” had a negative connotation in the first place. What about our society feels the need to add a negative connotation to that word. What about our collective experiences feels the need to make us be wary of “exploit” and what it may mean for us. In Ong’s “The author is always a fiction” Ong states that the author can only ever guess who his reached audience will be. I found this to come into conflict with Bakhtin’s theory of anti-signification because how can an author ever take into account their intended audience’s experiences, which help shape, their connotation of words. It seemed to be a lose-lose situation to me. If an author places these fictive experiences on his intended audience, they’ll almost always be wrong. It seems to me that we can never fully understand what the author is intending to say based on our culture differences and how language exploit those differences. 

October 4, 2012

Is a rose a rose?

Reading McCloud’s “The Vocabulary of Comics” shows the reader in a visual way that pictures and symbols are not what we initially think they are. Drawings and paintings cannot have the actual object; instead you would analyze the picture, as this is a drawing of a picture of this object. Semiotics is the meaning of signs or something that makes meaning. However, a sign is the signifier (anything that signifies) and the signifier (a concept). Since signifiers can be words on a page, a facial expression, a picture, etc.

October 3, 2012

Heteroglossia, Blog Post 10/3

The idea of heteroglossia completely confused me. I stumbled through attempting to define and explain it on the road map for Bakhtin’s Discourse in the novel. The definitive idea that I really came down to was that it is a term used to describe the intricacy of linguistic roots. It explored the idea that social ties from all the linguistic influences that a national language have a strong and lasting impact forever(?). I looked it up on a few different scholarly websites and really didn’t find a whole lot on the term other than what I had already guessed.

October 1, 2012

Questions Before Class < Questions After Class

Class today left me with more questions than I had walked in with. The overall understanding I came in with from the readings was that nothing is original because you base it off past thoughts, ideas works. Contextual meaning is almost as open as looking at a piece of art. The physical content it self sets the stage but it is then open to personal interpretation. It is the “sign” and we bring in all our ourselves and our thoughts into the understanding of the work. There are metaphors that are culturally shared, but they can always be looked into further. Social settings matter. However something I had not thought out was my personal use of metaphors.

Time is Everything

I found that reading this article was extremely different than reading Locke's writing. It seems that they view the use of words and their meanings to be completely different. The example of "Time is Money" is the best example of the view on words and their meaning. It also addresses the issue that words and their meaning can depend on their usage and where they are being used-not just a general complexity. I also think that they show that it is okay for certain cultures or audiences to receive words in a different way rather than it being a social or educational issue when they don't. Time is money is a phrase that is used everyday in the United States, but as stated in the article, definitely not in other cultures where there isn't an emphasis on well, time or money. Time is money is our reality and with that our culture. We focus on accomplishing our goals each day. There is at least one goal set in our mind each day because of our culture. Every night we go to bed, knowing we need to get up in the morning in order to get things accomplished.

Metaphorically Speaking

As English students we have become accustomed to using metaphors to express creative alternatives of literal ideas. Thanks to past rhetoricians we have even discovered the importance and usefulness of metaphors in arguments and discourse. According to George Lakoff and Mark Johnson in their text, Metaphors We Live By, metaphors make thoughts more vivid and structure our perceptions and understandings. They are pervasive in everyday life; not just in language, but in thought and action.

Lakoff and Johnson used multiple examples of metaphors including Argument is War. This metaphor is relevant to our culture due to the fact that our culture's discourse form is structured in terms of battle. "He attacked every weak point in her argument." In our culture we either win or lose an argument. In order to do so we attack our opponents position and defend our own by planning and using strategies. However, this metaphor (like most) is not meant to be taken literally. Argument is not the same thing as war, but the concept, activity, and language are both metaphorical structured in the same way causing the metaphor to make sense in our culture.


By the end of our class today I felt like our class had a weird take on the word "winning".  Some argued that when arguing they are just trying gain knowledge while others are trying to win their argument, maybe even prove that they are more knowledgable. We've all been in this kind of situation in class.

One way or another you are trying to share with the class your persepective. In doing so you are sharing this in order for the class to not only have an understanding but to even agree with you. You may think that you don't care if they agree with you or not but why are you speaking up if you're only gonna get shut down? If no one agrees with you or at least no one stands up to continue the conversation with the same idea do you regret throwing the idea out there or do you hold strong and continue forward? Most of us will stay quiet after saying something that doesnt settle too well in class. Well that's most of us. I think the key is that no one wants to sound stupid, everyone wants to be or appear knowledgable. Most of the time it is usually "appear" over "be."


After reading and attending class lecture on Jacques Derrida's Differance I sort of felt a little weird. Not to say that Derrida's Differance is weird, but the fact that even after an extensive discussion on the essay I still left with the same amount of knowledge that I came in with. I felt that the article itself kept adding on to what already seems like a quite advanced concept that kept getting revised throughout. We are introduced to differance, which should not be confused with its e-counterpart difference because difference is a concept not a word (279). This in itself is a difficult concept to take in since our minds constantly want to rationalize whatever we see and if one sees a word that is extremely similar to another word like difference, which we most likely know what it means.

Words have Power

I really enjoyed the "Metaphors We Live By" article. In one of my classes last semester, Rhetorical Criticism, I had to analyze a GOP candidates speech. What me, and a few other kids in my class, found was that almost all of the candidates used extensive war metaphors in their speeches. Reading "Metaphors We Live By" helped me unpack why that is.

I further enjoyed this idea that metaphors are not universal. We have already explored this idea that words are not universal due to previous experiences, so it could have already been assumed that the same is true for metaphors. But Lakoff then introduced the idea that metaphors can create a new reality of understanding for us. I liked this analysis because I feel like most of what we have previously read was unsure of the impact of words, and whether words just communicated ideas or created new ones. I like that "metaphors we live by" didn't question this concept but rather recognized the power of language.

The Overlooked Metaphor

Lakoff and Johnson discuss how metaphors are encoded into our everyday life and point to the idea that, to a certain extent, we don't even notice them. What I gained from the reading was that they were saying how metaphor is much deeper than most believe it to be, it is a way of "thought and action;" metaphor goes  way beyond simply language by itself. I very much so related to their thought that metaphors help us perceive how we live our days and how we "get around in the world" or even "relate to other people." We spend a great amount of our time comparing things to other things-- we live our whole lives through metaphor. I was much more keen to this thought as opposed to Locke's idea that language is abused by figurative speech. Locke insisted that figurative speech only insinuated wrong ideas, moved the passions, and thereby mislead judgement. Lakoff and Johnson, however, discuss how metaphor helps language, and everyday life in general, because we are able to relate things to other things.  

content of knowledge

Locke believed that ideas are the immediate objects of all thought, the meaning or signification of all words, and the mental representatives of all things. However, Locke questioned where we got all of the ideas which created the content of our knowledge. We decided in class that we thought that Locke would side with those believing that the idea preceded the word, however you still could say that you need the word or sign to express that idea. I would question how Derrida would approach this issue. A deconstructive view would seem to assert that words only refer to other words, so the word wouldn't properly represent the idea. What unit of language would Darrida say carries meaning?

The Overlooked Metaphor

Lakoff and Johnson discuss how metaphors are encoded into our everyday life and point to the idea that, to a certain extent, we don't even notice them. What I gained from the reading was that they were saying how metaphor is much deeper than most believe it to be, it is a way of "thought and action;" metaphor goes  way beyond simply language by itself. I very much so related to their thought that metaphors help us perceive how we live our days and how we "get around in the world" or even "relate to other people." We spend a great amount of our time comparing things to other things-- we live our whole lives through metaphor. I was much more keen to this thought as opposed to Locke's idea that language is abused by figurative speech. Locke insisted that figurative speech only insinuated wrong ideas, moved the passions, and thereby mislead judgement. Lakoff and Johnson, however, discuss how metaphor helps language, and everyday life in general, because we are able to relate things to other things.

The Significance of DJ Flula, And Why Metaphors Are Not Universal

The idea of metaphors as a necessity in our lives is something that I had not given much thought to prior to our reading of "Metaphors We Live By" by Lakoff and Johnson. However, after reading this, I more fully understand the significance of DJ Flula, and what his video reveals about American society. The video we watched in class brings up an important idea: that many of the metaphors we use in our culture are not present in other countries. Lakoff and Johnson also mention this in the line,

"TIME IS MONEY, TIME IS A LIMITED RESOURCE, and TIME IS A VALUABLE      COMMODITY are all metaphorical concepts. They are metaphorical since we are using our everyday experiences with money, limited resources, and valuable commodities to conceptualize time. This isn't a necessary way for human beings to conceptualize time; it is tied to our culture. There are cultures where time is none of these things" (Lakoff & Johnson).

we are intrinsically metaphorical.

I think it's fascinating to think about how language is used everyday. To think about words and how they can either mean nothing or everything is something that's always intrigued me and so when I read through Lakoff and Johnson's piece on metaphors, I was captivated. You hear about the functions of language with their technical terms and their basic examples but to see such an intricately wound language practice that we're not even aware we're using? Absolutely fascinating.

The argument really began to take effect when they emphasized the different war metaphors we're constantly using when discussing arguing:
Your claims are indefensible.
He attacked every weak point in my argument.
His criticisms were right on target.
I demolished his argument.
I've never won an argument with him.


Before enrolling in this course, I always looked at words as having one meaning. However I was taught the word, or how I had previously used it, was its concrete meaning. Through some of the text we've covered (mainly Locke), I've learned that, often times, a particular word can be used many different ways and have several meanings. Although words do have their "true" meanings, the way one person may interpret and express the word may be different than how I would do it.


The article read for today discusses the idea that metaphor is more relative to everyday life than most people actually understand. The general notion of metaphor is understanding as one kind of thing in terms of another.  In the article this idea is conceptualized with "argument is war". This doesn't mean that argument is physically the same thing as a war, we can understand this, there are no casualties and bombings in argument but there are metaphorical casualties and bombings. For example, "he shot down all my ideas", "His criticisms were right on target".

Language is a tool. Only a tool.

In class we discussed the notion that language can be used to construct our reality. It has been said that language is the means in which the human world is constructed and it is because language that things, either working at a high-level or a low-level of abstraction (e.g. high: honor, love; and low: tree, tire, hands), can exist and make sense to man. I believe this notion to be highly problematic. I have heard Dr. Fleckenstein's, one of Florida State's very own, best and brightest, advocate for this notion. Fleckenstein has said, and please someone correct me if I am wrong, that things do not exist in our world into they are spoken into existence, given a term that will work to be universally accepted, and categorized into one of the many categories in which man has constructed through language.


The analysis by Lakoff and Johnson of language as a metaphor had a few wheels turning in my head. As usual, I'm going to apply this concept to the universal language: the arts.

Often times that's what the arts do right? It can be something basic: Red is for anger, blue is for sorrow, etc. Or what about something more intricate? The Screamer is a wonderful collision of colors that evokes a sense of dread; a more specific dread can be seen if you look even deeper into it.

So does RED = ANGER? How about BLUE = SORROW? It sure seems to evoke that feeling doesn't it? Why does argument create a sense of war? Why does TIME = MONEY? It's a way to make a representation hit closer to home. We're all familiar with war, we're all familiar with money, we're all familiar with anger, and we're all familiar with sorrow. In order to grasp a concept such as time, we probably had to associate it with something people generally relate to so that they don't mishandle the value of time.

This is exactly why we hold the "Meta"-arts to a higher value in the realm of high culture. A lot of the times, the best movies aren't just a straight up narrative; they're a movie about movies. Same for other arts: photography about photography, writing about writing, art about art. Not only is art relatable, but it gives the auteur a sense of awareness for the subject they're tackling. It's the ultimate meta-metaphor.


The interdeterminance of words and their context has been something we have been following in class for a while. Unfortunately after these past readings its seems all too similar. To determine the meaning by its surrounding context was in fact, identifying its differences and similarities, but to place their meaning originally through such system seems difficult. "Throughout almost all our life we are treating things as signs. All experience, using the word in its widest possible sense, is either enjoyed or interpreted or both, and very little of it escapes some degree of interpretation." (1270) It was almost elementary, to grasp a thing we identify with an object and to understand abstract we use metaphor to arrive at similarities and differences between things we already know. Then, Richards says: "meaning is rhetorical, they conclude, because language is 'an instrument for the promotion of purspose' and not simply 'a means of symbolizing references.'" (1271). So now I cant seem to understand what the purpose is. Meaning is the instrument by which what purpose is being accomplished? We said passing on information, obtaining knowledge all of these things are our purpose for using language. We symbolize all references in order to perform all those purposes, how can it stand alone?

What came first? The Chicken or the Metaphor?

George Lakoff and Mark Johnson's article, "Metaphors We Live By," in a way in an inspection of the structure of language. Yes, their arguments are structured around the use and prevalence of metaphors in writing/speech, yet it is done so in a way that presumes this practice alters thought (rather than only changing speech). The way I understood the reading was that Lakoff and Johnson feel "that metaphor means metaphorical concept," that metaphors not only alter speech, but also create a conceptual framework around any given situation. They imply that when approaching an argument through the metaphorical lens of "argument is war," someone is more likely to operate according to principles the metaphor implies (warlike tendencies, binary distinction between parties, enemy mentality, etc.).

Beauty! Really is in the eyes of the beholder.

The meaning of a  word do not reside in the word nor the sign, but rather the interpretation of the word. This idea which was expressed in the The Meaning of Meaning, has made me truly think about how abstract words are. This ideal which we have been exploring in the last couple of classes, the idea that words are only really as descriptive as our own level of knowledge will allow. I almost feel enlightened to a certain extent because words such as beauty or trustworthy or love that cannot be described or explicitly defined illustrate this ideal perfectly.

The Metaphorical existance

I have long regarded the use of metaphors in written and spoken language as being fundamental parts of the form and function of language, but until reading "Metaphors We Live By", i had never given much consideration to the credibility of their establishment in regards to being fundamentally rooted within concrete elements of our society. Far from the superficial traits of which i had previously ascribed to the form and function of metaphorical statements, Lakoff and Johnson emphasize the relevance of the construction of metaphorical statements to the fabric of our society itself.

Roses really smell like poo-oo-ooo

When reading Locke's determination of idioms and metaphors I can see the difficulty trying to depict the difference, and the question of whether or not an idiom is a metaphor. Metaphors are defined as a figure of speech, or a symbolic representation of an object. Idioms are representations words or phrases, more relatable to an idea, not an object.

I can't help but think about the Outkast song "Roses." To unpack this song's lyrics, there are a couple lines that can be broken down and defined as either an idiom or a metaphor, in my opinion:

"She needs a golden calculator to divide" symbolizes that 'she' is a brat or high maintenance. I consider this an idiom.

"Roses  really smell like poo" is metaphorically symbolizing that pretty things aren't always pretty on the inside. But technically roses could really smell like poo, but the context the artist uses this phrase is to describe another object.

Metaphorically Speaking (x over/line through speaking) Thinking

Lakoff and Johnson make the claim that we do not just allude to metaphors when they are useful, but that our very thought process is shaped by metaphors. The clearest example used is the all-powerful claim "ARGUMENT IS WAR". Many would attempt to break down this metaphor beginning with the popular phrase "metaphorically speaking, it means....". However, metaphors are not just in speech, they are in our very thought process, and they are not but one way to look at things,  but the main way we look at things. This is why we "shoot down arguments" and "defend our stance". We inevitably - as a culture and society - think of argument as war. Lakoff and Johnson make an excellent point when explaining how differently we would attack approach argument if we instead saw it as a dance.

Popularity contests?

            One thing that always comes up when we deal with the term "meaning" is how it changes or reacts to changes and contexts. In the Rivkin and Ryan Background they discuss this a little when talking about Foucault, " Foucault notices that what counts as knowledge changes with time, and with each change, the place of language in knowledge is also modified" (Rvkin&Ryan, 54). The main idea behind all of these texts on meaning seems to be that not only is meaning contextual but the terms that are being used are usually the most popular and widely recognized terms of times. Richards and Ogden discussed this as well but called it a "naive theory that 'meaning' is just 'meaning' to be popular at the moment" (Richards and Ogden, 1275) We talked about this when we discussed Locke as well. The term "Hot" and how it could mean that someone has a temperature to someone who is attractive. The term has changed based on the period in which we live because, now, if I hear someone say "She looks hot" or "He looks hot" my mind automatically begins to think that they are talking about the person being attractive. But in say, in the 1800's it would have meant that they had a temperature or might have been ill.

Words, Metaphors, and Introspection

“Metaphors We Live By” is a continuation of the themes we’ve covered this week in the Locke and Derrida readings. The basic premise of the texts (and I’m probably going to be using sign/signifer/word incorrectly here) is that we assign certain words to our experiences so that they can be easier to understand. These words are arbitrary. To understand them requires some knowledge of what they stand for, but in analyzing them we may also find that our knowledge of what they are signifying increases. 

Locke has a couple of remarks on page 815: “Complex ideas are not universal[.]” “Words […] carry cultural connotations […] that complicate the relationship between communicated word and signified idea.”

"Shooting Fish in a Barrel"

Metaphors have always been a tricky concept for me; the difference between a simile and a metaphor managed to send my 5th grade mind into utter confusion. Even to this day, poetry and I have our ups and downs.

When it comes to metaphors Lakoff and Johnson explicitly say "the meaning is right there in the words."The metaphor clearly defines what is meant by the phrase and/or term and have therefore seemed to make our language easier to understand. My question is, to what extent does it make language easier? Creating the metaphor is difficult itself, if it were self-explanatory middle school English teachers would not use a week of teaching in order to explain it. A significant amount of thought goes into the process of creating a metaphor. If we think about it, after first being exposed to a new metaphor, we need to break down and find its meaning and then figure out to how to use the metaphor in specific context.

Speaking Metaphorically

Our conceptual processes are reflected through language, where metaphors are commonly used to create parallels and express our conceptual reflections. In Lackoff and Johnson's Metaphors We Live By, we can see that we use metaphors all the time- not just in exaggerated circumstances or poetically. With examples like "argument is war" and "time is money," you can see where these phrases came from and why it makes sense to use these metaphors in our language, especially with its cultural context. Time may not be money in another culture, which is why metaphors in our language directly reflect the culture of that language. I also thought it was interesting that he pointed out the generalizations in orientational metaphors, what words like 'up' and 'down' signified. I always just thought of these as general prepositional phrases, but it makes sense to see how it is actually used metaphorically since such phrases may not even exist in another language. The only thing I was not quite sure about were some of  the conduit phrases-- I still don't understand how a phrase like "your reasons came through to us." I see that it is a transitory phrase, but I wouldn't say it is metaphorical because it doesn't stand in place of something else with a more literal meaning. Overall, I wasn't aware how common metaphors were used in every day speech, and see that they differ between languages based on their perceptions and reflections of their culture through language.

Words Are Tokens of Symbolism

Reading all three of the passages Im starting to wrap my head around the connection between words and their anti-signification. Or possibility for that matter. In Meaning of Meaning they describe the human urge to communicate between others which is something I can agree with. There is an urge to communicate and that wouldn't exist without symbols. In this case words are those symbols which we utilize to communicate with. The problem is, do words mean anything on their own?

The Links of Metaphor

I feel that Lakoff and Johnson are ultimately correct in identifying metaphor as an essential component of defining the sorts of qualitative implications that words have. Metaphors help us establish the essential nature of words and concepts as well as their secondary non-essential qualities (connotations). The metaphors that shape our reality are largely inheritances of our culture and traditions. Metaphors have great rhetorical power because they shape reality by highlighting certain features of an idea while hiding others. Politicians regularly appeal to metaphor by phrasing political maneuvers in terms of them, characterizing their policy on drugs as "at war" for example. Critical audiences would do best to question the depth and usage of metaphors, even commonly accepted conventional ones. It could be the case that the assumptions behind our uses of metaphor are entirely arbitrary or driven by cultural prejudices that do not accurately reflect reality.

Will every term always be contextually shaped?

Although, Richards & Ogden “From the Meaning of Meaning” is at sometimes hard to follow I took away an interesting aspect on how our statements are shaped. The idea that words “mean” nothing by themselves is completely clear but, the reason they are shaped is not so transparent.

Others have posted on how our culture shapes the way a statement or words are thought about and molded. Yet, I wonder if there are disconnects. The simple fact that the way others perceive words and symbols differently will always lead to the inherent issue that there will never be a universal language, deriving my questions. When a “thinker” makes use of words he is deciphering with a previously built upon knowledge, (however right or wrong), how he, more or less interprets, meaning.

This contextual shaping is furthered by Lakoff and Johnson’s “From Metaphors We Live By” which I believe works as a great hand and hand tool with Richards and Ogden’s “From the Meaning of Meaning.” As I understand the phrase, “when we speak, the symbolism we employ is caused partly by the reference we are making and partly by social and psychological factors,” I don’t quite understand the meaning behind the meaning. Words will be constantly shaped due to cultural changes and we will never come up with an accepted explanation for everyone’s thoughts and expressions. So I ask this question, will we ever know the meaning behind the meaning? Or will we be constantly adapting our perceived knowledge through experience, until the end of time?

Users of Language as Agents; Agency through metaphors

George Lakoff and Mark Johnson's "Metaphors We Live By" explores the concept and function of metaphors in language. Whether we are aware of it or not, they say, metaphors play a role in the construction of realities through our conceptual system. While these metaphors are largely unconsciously recognized, they guide our understanding of experiences and influence what we do in every day life. In this way, metaphors can be perceived as the Agency through which users of language (Agents) develop and communicate an understanding of the world around them--based on the cultural context in which they live.

As an extension, metaphors act as Agency for cultures at large, allowing them to develop cultural-specific norms in language that are guided by their leading ideology, or episteme. We live in a society guided by a capitalist ideology, where acquiring money is of central focus and tools or materials that assist us in acquiring money are of utmost importance. Time is "precisely quantified", we are paid "by the hour, week, or year". Therefore, time is perceived as a limited resource, a valuable commodity. The metaphor "time is money" is an example of Western society's cultural principles manifested in language.

Unraveling The Thread

I tried to pick a single reading to concentrate on, but in the end, one thought kept circling me as the accumulation of all our reading up till now, and that is: “Language shapes our reality”. I’ve heard this phrase before, but I think I am now beginning to truly comprehend it in a way I never had before. First we have Locke discussing the failings and frailties of language and the debate of whether words or ideas came first. In class, this question was jokingly, but very aptly, compared to that of the “chicken or the egg”, a phrase which is also ingrained into our cultural lexicon as a well-worn idiom (or is it a metaphor). Now I question how that phrase was spawned and how we have adapted it to so many other situations. I think Locke was very right about use the word ‘frail’ to describe language. It’s like picking at a thread; the more you examine it, play with, the more it unravels.

Everyday metaphors

I found George Lakoff and Mark Johnson’s take on metaphors and what role it plays in our society and culture today to be very insightful and something I had never thought about. They propose that instead of metaphors being used for simple rhetorical and literary thought and speech, people use metaphors every single day whether they realize it or not, in their speech as well as their actions. Down to the simplest of tasks from going to sleep at night and being “dead tired” or so hungry you could “eat a horse”, individuals use metaphors everyday. Straightforward the way they put is that “the essence of metaphor is understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another”. We define our experiences and actions in relation to past or related experiences we’ve had. By creating these culturally metaphors they are able to be past down in society.

Words and Ideas

In class, when we were discussing John Locke's essay, we debated whether or not we think words or ideas come first.  I think the class' consensus was that ideas come first and from them we create words.  This got me thinking about the origins of language and how people connect words with ideas and meanings. I do agree with the class consensus that ideas come first and we then attach a word to them but I did wonder how these words came to be.  I then considered that maybe words do come first and then preexisting ideas can be attached to them.  Locke talks about words and language and their meanings in his essay.  I gathered that Locke felt it was important that words and their meanings be connected and somewhat simple in their relation to each other.  That is why I think that the discovery of words and ideas and how they connect to each other can happen simultaneously.  Basically, it helps to have words similar in sound to the meanings that it represents therefor words and the ideas that represent them may happen at the same time as opposed to one happening before the other.

Language and Knowledge

There was a question in class whether or not language could construct knowledge or merely convey it, and while the crux of what simmered by the casual toss of semantics had to deal with "the chicken or the egg" paradox (whether or not to consider the signifieds as empirically "prior" to the application of sound images), there is perhaps a possible "portmanteau" of text that might help answer that question by example.

Locke and Richards and Ogden agree that language has no "standard in nature," rather that they gain meaning through sedimentation (something Campbell said?) and for Richards and Ogden, "It is only when a thinker makes use of them [words] that they should stand for anything, or have 'meaning' (Richards and Ogden 1274). In this way, this new line of thought runs counterpoint to the metaphor of language as vessel of meaning (Lakoff and Johnson). It also seems to lean towards way language as incompetent; unable to promulgate knowledge. Yet, for Locke, this predicament may lay inlaid in the discourse of philosophy, of which he bundles in practice such as science, and law. To use a somewhat flimsy example, take the concept of murder.

Thoughts coming from no where?

I like how Lakoff and Johnson incorporate the idea the metaphors are engraved into our daily speech and lives: "They also govern our everyday functioning, down to the most mundane details. Our concepts structure what we perceive, how we get around in the world, and how we relate to other people. Our conceptual system thus plays a central role in defining our everyday realities. If we are right in suggesting that our conceptual system is largely metaphorical, then the way we thinks what we experience, and what we do every day is very much a matter of metaphor."

September 30, 2012

On the fence about metaphors? Me too!

To me Lakoff believes metaphors have the power to create images and ideas. This has the possibility of suggesting wrong ideas or even mislead judgment. So because of this Lakoff begs us to consider leaving out these distractions in order to understand the true idea of what one is trying to convey. To an extent I can see where metaphors, tropes, and figures may cause what we are really trying to get across to one another to take a back seat. Although hilarious I found the video shown in class about shooting fish in a barrel to be a very effective way to help Lakoff’s argument. The it will be like shooting fish in a barrel to me means it is going to be a piece of cake to get what ever task completed. Yes, I know I used another metaphor to explain a metaphor, but it was the first thing that came to my mind as I was typing my response. So there in lies another pro of Lakoff’s position on metaphors, and how they are mainly filler and take us farther and farther away from our initial truths. Lakoff and Johnson consider metaphoric structuring to be systematic, because of this, “when focused on one aspect of a metaphorical concept, it can keep us from focusing on other aspects of the concept that are inconsistent with that metaphor.” I feel as though that is what happened to me so I will attempt to explain the phrase once again. To me that phrase means the task at had is going to be exceptionally easy to complete little effort is needed and whatever needs to be done will basically come to them.

Are Idioms Metaphors?

First off, I totally agree with Lakoff and Johnson, metaphors are everywhere. They've become engrained in our culture and speech, we can't escape them. That's fine though, they make conversations more interesting. However, as I read "Metaphors We Live By" it brought up the questions, "Are idioms actually metaphors?" The OED defines metaphor as "A figure of speech in which a name or descriptive word or phrase is transferred to an object or action different from, but analogous to, that to which it is literally applicable; an instance of this, a metaphorical expression."

Meaning. Metaphors. Culture.

When I was looking over some class notes to draw parallels with Lackoff and Johnson’s discussion of metaphors, something I jotted down about Locke jumped out at me.  “For Locke, knowledge could be arrived at by experience, question, reason, investigation, observation (not merely revelation); human nature could be regarded the basis of critical judgment.”  That last sentence in particular I felt truly coincided with what Lackoff and Johnson were trying to present.  In my own words, what I believe these theorists are trying to communicate is that as humans we create meaning in the world around us by defining our own experiences in relation to one another.  We find comradery through understanding one another, and by creating a norm for universal understanding on a cultural level, we are able give these experiences (concepts, words) meaning that anyone who is a part of that culture will understand.



Differance is A Sign

At first I thought difference with an “a” was a real word, but the more I read the more I realized that it was not. It intrigued me that Derrida called differance a “graphic difference (280)” because “it is written or read, but it is not heard (280)”. Could this mean that the meaning can be interpreted however the reader wants to?  If something is “inaudible” then it cannot “exist and operate (281)” as having a definite meaning. Word can be interpreted anyway, but this becomes an imperfection in language according to Locke because words cannot be communicated. Derrida’s main argument is that a sign is silent and words are a sign. Therefore, it cannot mean anything or say anything to communicate unless both people communicating understand it the same way.

The "Jello in a Basket" Metaphor

In class on Wednesday we discussed the question: Does language construct meaning or does it merely convey it? I prefer to think that language "carries" meaning.

Imagine language as a basket which can be transported between individuals and in which is contained the contents which the individual wants to convey to another individual in order to communicate. Within the threads of the basket are particles and foreign threads woven into the structure of the basket. This signs of an individual's meaning are placed into the basket. I would like to think of these signs as jello jigglers, with a different shape representing different words.

metaphors and the meaning of our language

I thought it was interesting the way Lakoff and Johnson discuss metaphors as an idea but also as a concept in the way we think. I school we all have been taught what a metaphor is an how we use it in our writing but I have never thought of the idea that we use metaphors to describe our daily lives or how we are thinking or feeling. The idea that a metaphor changes an act, especially in different cultures, is an interesting idea to think of. The whole process of the arguments as war and arguments as a dance literally changes the entire way we go about thinking of an act, or how he describes time as money.

Metaphors as Symbols

Lakoff and Johnson discuss metaphors and how we live be them. To some extent, this is correct because we do constantly use examples to aid our discussions. The example of “Time is Money” is clear enough to understand; when having discourse with someone, and we are rushed for time, we might use the metaphor, “Time is money.”  If you notice, my use of “we are rushed for time” is also a metaphor. Lakoff and Johnson state, “That metaphor is pervasive in everyday life, not just in language but in thought and action.”  This is very true because we always compare our life situations to other symbols and objects.

Borrowing Experiences Always

This week I connected to Metaphors We Live By because I agree with the concept that we all live our lives throughout metaphors due to the fact that it’s how we’re able to connect with people and events in our life. We base everything off of comparison with other things so that they will be able to make sense more clearly in our mind. We compare these new events to old memories we have to see how we can make sense of them. In the lines “The normal way for us to talk about attacking a position is to use the words "attack a position." Our conventional ways of talking about arguments presuppose a metaphor we are hardly ever conscious of. The metaphors not merely in the words we use--it is in our very concept of an argument. The language of argument is not poetic, fanciful, or rhetorical; it is literal.