Visualisation versus Visual Metaphor : a problem


At what point does the causal relationship that can be expressed visually become visual metaphor.

…and what is the difference? And what dangers are there for the visual “reader” (See Maria Popova on Susan Sontag’s thoughts on reductionist aphorisms).

Discussing the work and theorising of Hart Crane (modernist poet – American), Dembo suggests:

“…the logic of metaphor theory is reducible to a fairly simple linguistic principle: the symbolized meaning of an image takes precedence over its literal meaning; regardless of whether the vehicle of an image makes sense, the reader is expected to grasp its tenor”.

Dembo (1960) p. 34

In his book Semiotics and the Philosophy of Language, Eco wrangles with his own definitions relating to metaphors that are extended from the written/spoken linguistic into other [at first] non-linguistic forms, beginning with what he poetically terms “oneiric images”, he goes on to ask:

it is not a matter of saying that visual metaphors also exist, or that there perhaps [almost certainly – GS ed.] also exist olfactory or musical metaphors. The problem is that the verbal metaphor itself often elicits references to the visual, aural, tactile and olfactory experiences.

Eco (1984) p.89

No doubt because because to an upright, eyes facing forward, visually oriented, pattern-recognition sensitive creature, these metaphorical assertions, the substitution of “symbolically like” for “physically and literally diverse”, are the first truly conceptual (i.e. of or relating to concepts or mental conception) responses we began to make; Smoke is to Fire what Fresh Spoor is to Prey, Wolf Shadow is to Wolf, What etc.

And without spoken language, or the child of that tool, the written word, we had to resort to what we already had developed. The tool we devised to communicate to our fellow mirror-neurone users, and to record our thoughts about the things that seem to us “in sympathy” with each other; these metaphoric conceptualisations of the relationships, and “shadow” relationships of the phenomena of everyday life (whether in the cave or in the city).

And that earliest of metaphoric tools would be?

The visualisation.

See previous post for examples of visualisations.

~ by hesir on June 24, 2013.

3 Responses to “Visualisation versus Visual Metaphor : a problem”

  1. Gareth

    Am working on an article for Journal of American Studies,( title is ‘Thinking Narratively, Metaphorically and Allegorically through Poetry, Animation and Sound’) and a new film about Hart Crane, investigating his ‘logic of metaphor’ through his Proem ‘The Bridge’…..amazed to see your post!!

    • Haha… cool.

      Well, you guys taught me to read around my subject… it should be no surprise that we should end up in the same aisle of the library at some point. Laughs.

      Well good luck with yours… I’m beginning to think I’m talking myself into a mad house, my previous post was a doozy and I’m not sure whether I’m making headway or just making vaguely the right noises… 🙂

    • Hey, have you read the chapter on Metaphor by Eco, in Semiotics – I referenced it in the additional piece I added above?

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