virus: Lakoff lecture part 3

Eva-Lise Carlstrom (
Wed, 12 Mar 1997 01:04:13 -0800 (PST)

Lakoff and Mark Johnson (later coauthor of _Metaphors We Live By) were
teaching a seminar on linguistics and performance art that could only have
been taught at Berkeley. On the day they were supposed to discuss
metaphor, a woman in the class arrived distraught and said she couldn't do
it, she had a metaphor problem with her boyfriend, and maybe the rest of
the class could help her out. This being Berkeley, they said sure. her
boyfriend had said to her, "Our relationship has hit a dead-end street."
What did it mean? The class realized that we have lots and lots of
expressions of the general metaphor "Love is a Journey". As part of the
general metaphor, lovers are travelers, their relationship is the
vehicle, the destination is their common goals, and difficulties are
physical impediments. There are lots of special cases (involving cars,
boats, trains, planes), but the generalizations are consistent. But,
says the woman, that's fine, but my boyfriend is thinking in terms of this
metaphor, and he's breaking up with me! The metaphor maps our knowledge
of real-world travel experience onto our ideas about love. The metaphor
is in the concepts in our mind, not in the individual words or sentences.
This is in opposition to the Aristotelian view of metaphor, in which
metaphor is located in special uses of individual words. Lakoff and
Johnson have found hundreds and hundreds of general mappings like "Love is
a Journey" in English and other languages. This shows that reason is not
transcendent, but based in bodily experience.

(examples of more such mappings and their implications and derivations
tomorrow, but I'm going to bed now)