I Is an Other

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

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According to "New York Times" bestselling author James Geary, Elvis Presley was more than just a rock star - he was also a master at metaphor. But as Geary posits in this lively and informative book on one of our most basic forms of language, metaphor does more than provide a good chorus for us to dance to. It also wholly forms how people look at and experience the world and drives invention and creativity. Although most people would assume that metaphor's only place of influence is in literature and song, as Geary argues, metaphors are found in all aspects of life from economics to neuroscience to advertising. The unusual title actually comes from Arthur Rimbaud - a man who would go on to become a businessman, financier, and explorer in the 19th century, but started out humbly as a poet. For him, metaphor was the basis of poetry and in its most simple terms, he stated, metaphor is when I is an other - a simple equation to show when one thing totally represents something else. I Elvis' case, her lips were a volcano.
In "I Is an Other", Geary takes us from Aristotle's equation for metaphor x=y (as in Juliet=the sun in one of Shakespeare's most well known lines, "Juliet is the sun") to showing how metaphors such as a soaring housing market may have contributed to the most recent economic downturn and the rise in foreclosures. For Geary, metaphor is so ingrained in our daily lives, it actually influences how we see, react to, and affect the world around us. With witty prose, relevant arguments, and an original thesis, "I Is an Other" is sure to delight lovers of language. Geary is a master at his subject and his book will open eyes to the power of metaphor in every aspect of our connections.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 304 pages
  • 147.32 x 213.36 x 30.48mm | 408.23g
  • Harper
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0061710288
  • 9780061710285
  • 213,577

Back cover copy

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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Review quote

"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." -- Washington Post "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." -- The Independent "An illuminating study of metaphor in all its guises...Required reading for anyone with even a passing interest in language." -- Time Out London
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About James Geary

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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Rating details

527 ratings
3.86 out of 5 stars
5 27% (140)
4 42% (219)
3 25% (131)
2 6% (29)
1 2% (8)
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