I is an Other: The Secret Life of Metaphor and How It Shapes the Way We See the World

I is an Other: The Secret Life of Metaphor and How It Shapes the Way We See the World

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by James Geary
     
 

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From President Obama's political rhetoric to the housing bubble bust, James Geary proves in this fascinating and entertaining book that every aspect of our experience is molded by metaphor.

"It is the East, and Juliet is the sun!" This is one of Shakespeare's most famous lines and one of the most well-known metaphors in literature.

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Overview

From President Obama's political rhetoric to the housing bubble bust, James Geary proves in this fascinating and entertaining book that every aspect of our experience is molded by metaphor.

"It is the East, and Juliet is the sun!" This is one of Shakespeare's most famous lines and one of the most well-known metaphors in literature. But metaphor is much more than a mere literary device employed by love-struck poets when they refer to their girlfriends as interstellar masses of incandescent gas. It is also intensely yet inconspicuously present in everything from ordinary conversation and commercial messaging to news reports and political speeches. Metaphor is at work in all fields of human endeavor, including economics, business, science, and psychology.

In I Is an Other, James Geary takes readers from Aristotle's investigation of metaphor right up to the latest neuroscientific insights into how metaphor works in the brain. Along the way, he demonstrates how metaphor affects financial decision making, how metaphor lurks behind effective advertisements, how metaphor inspires learning and discovery, and how metaphor can be used as a tool to achieve emotional insight and psychological change. Geary also explores how a life without metaphor, as experienced by some people with autism spectrum disorders, significantly changes the way a person interacts with the world. As Geary demonstrates, metaphor has leaped off the page and landed with a mighty splash right in the middle of our stream of consciousness.

Witty, persuasive, and original, I Is an Other showcases how a simple way with words, which in the past was considered a tool only for poets, is really a driving force in our society. This book will open your eyes to the secret life of metaphor and its role in swinging elections, moving markets, and powerfully influencing daily life.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"Metaphorical thinking is the way we make sense of the world" and neurological research shows that humans experience pleasure when performing the "cognitive gymnastics" of deciphering metaphors to connect two dissimilar things, asserts Geary (The World in a Phrase) in a delightful examination that borrows for its title from a poem by Rimbaud, whose writing aimed to "upset conventional orders of perception." Tests on people who do not understand metaphors, such as those with Asperger's syndrome, uncover the roles that "mirror" and "Gnostic" neurons play in conceptual comprehension and long-term memory. Geary also analyzes how metaphors are used in advertising, scientific discoveries, economics, and politics. "Metaphors, once forgotten or ignored, are easily mistaken for objective facts," he warns, showing how metaphor "surreptitiously infiltrates our purchasing decisions." Voters, consumers, and investors interested in knowing how their decisions may be influenced by well-planned metaphors will be fascinated by Geary's adept explication of the metaphor's role in defining perceptions. (Feb.)
New York Journal of Books
“The author further manages to weave together a fascinating amount of information. . . . I Is an Other really shines when it focuses on the simple yet profound . . . you’ll never look at a metaphor the same way again—metaphorically speaking.”
Wall Street Journal
“Geary . . . succeeds in making the case that metaphor is the meat of language and not a sauce.”
Washington Post
“Smart fun for anyone fascinated by the play of language. . . . Geary traces the history of [metaphor] from Aristotle to Elvis.”
The Independent
“Enchanting...It is [its] playful celebration of meanings that makes this book optimistic. And though the subtitle has a whiff of conspiracy about it, the sheer ubiquity of metaphor in everyday life makes the book feel urgent....addictive...Geary writes with clarity and power.”
Time Out London
“An illuminating study of metaphor in all its guises…Required reading for anyone with even a passing interest in language.”
David Brooks
“In his fine new book, James Geary [shows that] metaphors are not rhetorical frills at the edge of how we think. They are at the very heart of it.”
Ben Schott
“This book is a prism, refracting the white light of language into a kaleidoscopic celebration of its images and etymologies.”
Jay Parini
“This book is for everyone interested in the subtle operations of language and thought....I is an Other is one of those ‘must-read’ books for this year, for any year. It deserves a wide audience, and it will find one.”
Michael Dirda
“Sherlock Holmes could glance at a bowler hat and tell that its owner’s wife had ceased to love him. In this brilliant book about metaphor James Geary is no less astonishing....You’ll scarf down every page of I Is an Other and then ask for more.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061710285
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
02/08/2011
Pages:
296
Sales rank:
1,421,642
Product dimensions:
8.44(w) x 5.74(h) x 1.08(d)

What People are saying about this

Jay Parini
“This book is for everyone interested in the subtle operations of language and thought....I is an Other is one of those ‘must-read’ books for this year, for any year. It deserves a wide audience, and it will find one.”
Michael Dirda
“Sherlock Holmes could glance at a bowler hat and tell that its owner’s wife had ceased to love him. In this brilliant book about metaphor James Geary is no less astonishing....You’ll scarf down every page of I Is an Other and then ask for more.”
Ben Schott
“This book is a prism, refracting the white light of language into a kaleidoscopic celebration of its images and etymologies.”
David Brooks
“In his fine new book, James Geary [shows that] metaphors are not rhetorical frills at the edge of how we think. They are at the very heart of it.”

Meet the Author

James Geary is the author of Geary’s Guide to the World’s Great Aphorists and the New York Times bestseller The World in a Phrase.

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