I’m just about to finish “The Way We Think” by Fauconnier/Turner and i can’t avoid the feeling that it feels like a composite of books by continental philosophers that i have read but this time CORRECTLY TRANSLATED. In common with many from the scientific/british/analytic culture I find the writing of Foucault and pals a little wordy and frustrating. It seems like they are getting at things i can agree with, but go round the houses to “say what they mean”. The fun of writing – they even have a word for it for heavens sake! – gets in the way of getting to the point, and the gut feeling is that this “inefficiency” is intended to piss you off. (I’m specifically thinking of a section in one of Foucault’s books where he’s making some obscure point by talking about Velasquez’s painting of that princess which seems to go on for pages for little reward.)

Anyway this book is a popular account of a fundamental principle to influential programmes of cognitive science – that of “conceptual blending”. I can’t do it much justice right now (I’m going to finish AND re-read) but it outlines the format of these blendings, and then explores/surveys increasingly complex types, including both predicate-logic style relations and metaphors along the way. It’s very interesting stuff, relating to creativity, causal thinking, language, “meaning” and belief in general – putting metaphor, and metaphor-like processes at the core – and suggesting an ignition-point at which human language becomes possible. smashing.

Strangely, though i can understand what they are trying to explain, cos they do so clearly, they also go into so many odd/funny/obscure examples (and then model those examples) that it does pick up that elliptical “get on with it” feel from time to time. But this time I GET IT. I particularly liked the (near stand up comedy material) bit where they point out that a double edged sword is actually better for fighting than a single-edged sword, and in fact had someone invented a double-edged sword where one edge consistently hurt the user, it would be discarded in favour of the single-edged sword. (Presumably used facing the right way)

Right, well I don’t know where I’m going with this. But when I finally DO get this, I can go back and finish Ricoeur’s “Rule of Metaphor” and maybe this time I can see what he’s trying to say but without getting dragged down so much.

I know the problem is really with me, not those johnny-foreigner writers, (apols to the likes of byebyepride obv) but a book you can’t get through cos it’s like reading treacle, is intellectually humiliating.

FOOTBALL (will that do?)