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

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Overview

From President Obama’s political rhetoric to the bursting of the housing bubble, from conversations to commercials, James Geary shows that every aspect of our day-to-day experience is molded by metaphor. Geary takes readers from Aristotle’s investigation of metaphor right up to the latest neuroscientific insights into how metaphor works in the brain. Witty, persuasive, and original, I Is an Other explores metaphor’s effects on financial decision making, effective advertising, leadership, learning, and more. ...

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

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Overview

From President Obama’s political rhetoric to the bursting of the housing bubble, from conversations to commercials, James Geary shows that every aspect of our day-to-day experience is molded by metaphor. Geary takes readers from Aristotle’s investigation of metaphor right up to the latest neuroscientific insights into how metaphor works in the brain. Witty, persuasive, and original, I Is an Other explores metaphor’s effects on financial decision making, effective advertising, leadership, learning, and more. Romeo’s exclamation “It is the East, and Juliet is the sun!” may be one of the most well-known metaphors in literature, but metaphor is more than a device of love-struck poets. As Geary demonstrates, metaphor has leaped off the page and landed with a mighty splash right in the middle of the stream of consciousness.

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Editorial Reviews

Time Out London
“An illuminating study of metaphor in all its guises…Required reading for anyone with even a passing interest in language.”
Wall Street Journal
“Geary . . . succeeds in making the case that metaphor is the meat of language and not a sauce.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
Washington Post
"Smart fun for anyone fascinated by the play of language. . . . Geary traces the history of [metaphor] from Aristotle to Elvis."
Wall Street Journal
"Geary . . . succeeds in making the case that metaphor is the meat of language and not a sauce."
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."
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."
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."
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."
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."
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.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061710292
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/24/2012
  • Pages: 297
  • Sales rank: 333,752
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.72 (d)

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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Table of Contents

Foreword 1

Why I is an Other

Metaphor and Thought 5

All Shook Up

Metaphor and Etymology 17

Language is Fossil Poetry

Metaphor and Money 29

How High Can a Dead Cat Bounce?

Metaphor and the Mind 44

Imagining an Apple in Someone's Eye

Metaphor and Advertising 58

Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads in Them

Metaphor and the Brain 76

Bright Sneezes and Loud Sunlight

Metaphor and the Body 94

Anger is a Heated Fluid in a Container

Metaphor and Politics 112

Freedom Fries and Liberty Cabbage

Metaphor and Pleasure 137

Experience is a Comb that Nature Gives to Bald Men

Metaphor and Children 152

How Should One Refer to the Sky?

Metaphor and Science 167

The Earth is Like a Rice Pudding

Metaphor and Parables and Proverbs 179

Mighty Darn Good Lies

Metaphor and Innovation 197

Make it Strange

Metaphor and Psychology 208

A Little Splash of Color From my Mother

Backword 223

The Logic of Metaphor

Acknowledgments 227

Notes 229

Bibliography 259

Index 291

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Customer Reviews

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