Sunday, June 28, 2009

Language and Life as Metaphors, and also the Question

Corradi Fiumara's inquiry into metaphoricity, The Metaphoric Process: Connections between Language and Life, hereafter Metaphoric, assumes a reciprocal interaction between language and life, as she works towards 'pursuing the quest for a language not only conversant with intraepistemic deductions but also capable of interepistemic communicative efforts" (pp. 7-8, my emphasis). She defines language as embodied in persons; it is the derivative of personal logic and an unbreakable bond of listening and speaking, writing and reading (p. 8). She moves between speaking of a personal logic and emphasizing the relevance of interpersonal contact. "Once an ontogenetic, life-dependent, perspective is adopted, a more interactive communicational dimension is inevitably disclosed in which language appears as a process rather than as a system—a process which helps us focus more holistically. We can thus incline toward appreciating the complexity of linguistic dynamics rather than positing a 'system' that communicators would allegedly employ in cognition" (p. 6). The possibility of an asystemic holistic processualism asks to be noticed, asks to be further elaborated. We should also wonder about a connection between the unbreakable and the process. I think what is meant is that the unitary process of, say, writing and reading, is composed of processes so intertwined that to consider one without the other distorts our view of language. But are such processess literally unbreakable? This might be a thesis worth challenging, though intuitively it conforms to my worldview. Why is the question of the autology of reading, for example, not being asked? Are we fully inquiring into language and life, or are we still dealing with inchoate concepts?

When a question is being posed, or a problem identified, it is our philsophical right to ask why just that question is being asked. That there cannot be an explicit, appropriate or consensual reply is no reason for not continuing to inquire why a certain question is being asked in the sense of being privileged with respect to other possible questions. That meaning grows out of use is an increasingly accepted and often sloganized point even though its practical implications are often unsuspected; for, indeed, as contexts of use are invariably contexts of life vicissitudes, it becomes necessary to ask what people are trying to do and why, in whatever context. This line of inquiry may open new perspectives on the creative and metaphoric roots of our cognitive concerns.

(p. 10, Corradi Fiumara's emphasis, my bold)

By Corradi-Fiumara's reasoning we're also compelled to ask about who quests after a more conversant language. "We commonly admit that it takes the whole person to do creative research work, but we are not to ask just how inquiry interdigitates with the live personality of the scholar" (p. 11). Why, for instance, would Fido the Yak investigate imagination as coessential to the structure of rationality? Why do I desire that the question be reimagined, as akin to aerobics as much as procedural law and knitting?

Leondar remarks that a configuration half-perceived, a relation faintly grasped, or a concept newly emergent must be, first, named metaphorically. Of course once such a newly discovered phenomenon is well understood and extricated from its originating context, the metaphor will vanish into the literal lexicon, its heuristic work completed. Through a growing awareness of the pervasive use of metaphors we may come to perceive our imaginative construction of reality (with its derivative structures of meaning) as distinct from the claim that a successful empirical test (with its feedback loops) is what conclusively warrants the acceptance of our basic view of the world. An easier acceptance of this differentiation may enable us to explore a continuity in model-making which connects an expanding variety of different domains.

(p. 12)

The question is like tree pose (vrkshasana). It forces us to balance ourselves on one leg, and so it calls routine equilibrium into question. Equilibrium becomes a problem, a problem that, through practice, can be sustained as a method of pursuing a path of fuller self-awareness, a vital aspect of inquiry, by drawing the problem into the body, the breathing. Now, don't solve the question by breathing, but pay attention to the spaces between the question. Let it come and go freely. Switch to your other foot.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 4:24 AM.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tree pose - I picked up a v. cheap copy of Feldenkrais' 'The Potent Self' on Abebooks, it sums up his work and was the last bk. V. interesting and imho worth more than a ton of 'phil'. Hatha yoga has its own "issues". Ultimately an ascetic tradition....but can be used interestingly - I still do surya namaskar now and then. Btw, (gosh) I have been reading Lawrence Gardner's 'the grail enigma' - confirms a lot of stuff I had read elsewhere and is quite a history lesson - worth a glance. (How Jesus had children etc - and how Joseph of Arimathae was his brother James...ha rama (of the height) and theo (relating to god. It is a descriptive title...the mind boggles...and as Feldenkrais argues the 'mind' does not exist apart from action, just as velocity does exist apart from mass.

June 29, 2009 12:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Paul - Beth here. Our internet access is disrupted due to the move. Shawn can read stuff on my Blackberry but can't respond, so here I am from the outside world. Here's what he would have said himself: We do yoga for exercise, relaxation, and peace of mind. The asceticism of it is really more in the method that we don't really think about too much. We're pretty agnostic.

July 01, 2009 10:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

always good to hear from the outside world (smile) Hope the move is going ok. The 3 most stressful things: death of a loved one, divorce, moving....
I practiced yoga for many years when I was younger - in fact I learnt the moves in Mysore in the late 70's. I found it quite empowering - it was also a helluva work out - a v. dynamic style. The advanced stuff looked dodgy. Nowadays I stick to salutations and swimming?

July 01, 2009 1:58 PM  

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