I Is an Other
I Is an Other
The Secret Life of Metaphor and How It Shapes the Way We See the World
HarperTorch, Hardcover, 9780061710285, 296pp.
Publication Date: February 8, 2011
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.
“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.”
-David Brooks, New York Times
“Smart fun for anyone fascinated by the play of language. . . . Geary traces the history of [metaphor] from Aristotle to Elvis.”
“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.”
-New York Journal of Books
“Geary . . . succeeds in making the case that metaphor is the meat of language and not a sauce.”
-Wall Street Journal
“This book is a prism, refracting the white light of language into a kaleidoscopic celebration of its images and etymologies.”
-Ben Schott, author of Schott’s Original Miscellany and Schott’s Almanacs
“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.”
-Jay Parini, Professor of English and Creative Writing, Middlebury College and author of Promised Land: Thirteen Books that Changed America
“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.”
-Michael Dirda, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic and author of Book by Book and Classics for Pleasure
“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.”
“An illuminating study of metaphor in all its guises…Required reading for anyone with even a passing interest in language.”
-Time Out London