'Oceanic' dedifferentiation and poetic metaphor

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This paper discusses poetic metaphors on two levels: conceptualization strategies, and the elusive perceptual qualities of a certain kind of metaphor. It also offers a cognitive critique of some of the psychoanalytic attempts of handling the issues under consideration. Some psychoanalysts are more inclined to account for a person's playing the flute in terms of the flute's phallic shape than by granting a legitimate aesthetic interest in its sound. It is easier to isolate the 'phallic' shape of the flute than the perceptual features of its unique sound texture. The former strategy constitutes rapid, the latter delayed conceptualization. In certain circumstances, sound-textures too may be related to categories of psychoanalytic interest such as 'Oceanic Dedifferentiation'. These distinctions offer a theoretical framework that may help to account for the elusive instuitions concerning metaphors of the [IMMERSION in ABSTRACTION] form. It is argued that delayed conceptualization results in more adequate responses than rapid conceptualization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)711-724
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Dec 1988


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