Monday, October 31, 2011

Donne and Killingsworth

I am just pumping out John Donne posts for this week, so if you don't like him I apologize.
Killingsworth had the idea that metaphors help us identify ideas and concepts. He also writes, "According to Lakoff and Johnson, the cognitive power of metaphor...has to do with the tendency of all metaphors to connect the world to the body, to relate unfamiliar things to the familiar experience of physical existence" (124).

I see this concept certainly talking place in "Valediction". Donne uses a few metaphors that all relate to the experience of life/death.

First Donne writes, "As virtuous men pass mildly away/And whisper to their souls to go/ Whilst some of their sad friends do say/The breath goes now, and some say; No/". This is cumbersome, but it seems that Donne is saying that virtuous men die so peacefully that people cannot tell whether or not he has passed on. He continues, "So let melt, and make no noise, No tear floods, or nor sigh-tempests move" Essentially, he relates how the two lovers should part peacefully in the same way that virtuous men die. Killingsworth says that metaphor is an "attempt to bridge conceptual gaps" (123). Metaphors are essentially vehicles for transmission of thoughts, had Donne just said "Let's part without crying and making a huge commotion" it wouldn't have been as effective. Why?

I think that good metaphors do lead us back to the body, or more importantly just something that is highly familiar because it makes it personal. Over the pass couple weeks, I've been wondering the place of pathos in literature. I've blogged about some of the negative aspects of this, but I feel like this is one of pro's of pathos. Without it, these metaphors mean nothing, but with them they strike emotional responses that link two separate logical ideas.

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