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John Zaixin Zhang

 
 
 

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Culler, Derrida on Metaphor  

2008-03-02 22:59:40|  分类: 后结构理论 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Culler, Jonathan. The Pursuit of Signs: Semiotics, Literature, Deconstruction. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1981.

Chapter 10. “The Turns of Metaphor”

p. 189.

       “Ullmann distinguishes two types of imagery: the metaphorical, which is based on a relationship of similarity; and the metonymical, which is based on an external relationship of contiguity.”

p. 191.

       “Of all the figures metaphor is the one that can most easily be defended or justified on cognitive grounds: ‘the child is father to the man’ presents the relation of generations in a new light.” “Doubtless for this reason, metaphor has long been thought of as the figure par excellence through which the writer can display creativity and authenticity: his metaphors are read as artistic inventions grounded in perceptions of relations in the world.”

p. 192.

       For Roman Jakobson, these two poles of language are in a “relationship of competition such that one or the other will prevail in a given discourse. Metaphor is the mode of poetry, particularly of Romanticism and Symbolism, whereas metonymy is the mode of Realism.”

p. 193.

       On Proust’s imagery

       Gérard Genette: ‘Far from being antagonistic and incompatible, metaphor and metonymy support each other and interpenetrate one another’

p. 197.  

For de Man, metaphor in Proust is based on “the accidental association or linkage of the words torrent and activite in an cliché or idiom; and it depends, secondly, on the fact that the juxtaposition of the cliché torrent d’activite with the image of the hand in the water reawakens, as an effect of contiguity, the association of torrent with water. The power and persuasiveness of this text, which celebrates reading and sequestration as a way of capturing essences after the fashion of metaphorical language, turns out to depend on metonymical effects of contiguity.”

p. 198.

De Man: ‘In a passage that abounds in successful and seductive metaphors and which, moreover, asserts the superior efficacy of metaphor over that of metonymy, persuasion is achieved by a figural play in which contingent figures of chance masquerade deceptively as figures of necessity.’

 

Derrida, Jacques. Margins of Philosophy. Chicago: The U of Chicago P, 1982.

        “White Mythology: Metaphor in the Text of Philosophy”207-271.

p. 209.

       “Metaphor seems to involve the usage of philosophical language in its entirety, nothing less than the usage of so-called natural language in philosophical discourse, that, the usage of natural language as philosophical language.”

       (translator’s note: exergue refers to “the space on a coin or medal reserved for an inscription. In French it also has the sense of an epigraph, of something ‘outside the work.”)

p. 210.

       “Almost at the end of the Garden of Epicurus a short dialogue between Aristos and Polyhpilos is subtitled “or the language of metaphysics.” The two interlocutors are exchanging views, indeed, on the sensory figure which is sheltered and used (up), to the point of appearing imperceptible, in every metaphysical concept. Abstract notions always hide a sensory figure. And the history of metaphysical language is said to be confused with the erasure of the efficacity of the sensory figure and the usure [using up] of its effigy.”

       Polyphilos: “I was thininking how the Metaphysicians, when they make a language for themselves, are like knife-grinders, who instead of knives and scissor, should put medals and coins to the grindstone to efface the exergue, the value and the head. When they have worked away till nothing is visible intheir crown-pieces, neither King Edward, the Emperor William, nor the Republic, they say: ‘These pieces have nothing either English, German or French about them; we have freed them from all limits of time and space; they are not worth five shillings any more; they are of an inestimable value, and their exchange value is extended indefinitely.’ They are right in speaking thus. By this needy knife-grinder’s activity words are changed from a physical to a metaphysical acceptation.” [The Garden of Epicurus by Anatole France, trans. Alfred Allinson (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1923), pp. 194-95]

p. 211.

       “The rest of the dialogue confirms this: it examines, precisely, the possibility of restoring or reactivating, beneath the metaphor which simultaneously hides  and is hidden, the ‘original figure’ of the coin which has been worn away (usé), effaced, and polished in the circulation of the philosophical concept. Should one not always have to speak of the ef-facement of an original figure, if it did not by itself efface itself?”

       “The primitive meaning, the original, and always sensory and material, figure… is not exactly a metaphor. It is a kind of transparent figure, equivalent to a literal meaning (sens propre). It becomes a metaphor when philosophical discourse puts it into circulation. Simultaneously the first meaning and the first displacement are then forgotten. The metaphor is no longer noticed, and it is taken for the proper meaning. A double effacement. Philosophy would be this process of metaphorization which gets carried away in and of itself.”

p. 212.

       Polyphilos: “Wherefore I was on the right road when I investigated the meanings inherent in the words spirit, God, absolute, which are symbols and not signs.” 213. “What is this if not a collection of little symbols, much worn and defaced, I admit, symbols which have lost their original brilliance, and picturesqueness, but which still, by the nature of things, remain symbols?”

p. 217.

       Nietzsche: ‘What then is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonymics, anthropomorphisms: in short, a sum of human relations which became poetically and rhetorically intensified, metamorphosed, adorned, and after long usage, seem to a nation fixed, canonic and binding; truths are illusions of which one has forgotten that they are illusions; worn out metaphors which have become powerless to affect the senses, coins which have their obverse effaced and now are no longer of account as coins but merely as metal.’ [Nietzsche, “On Truth and Falsity in their Ultramoral Sense,” in Complete Works of Nietzsche, ed. D. Levy (London and Edinburgh, 1911), vol. 2, p. 180].

p. 218.

       “To determine what a five-franc piece is worth one must therefore know: 1) that it can be exchanged for a fixed quantity of a different thing, e.g., bread; and 2) that it can be compared with a similar value of the same system, e.g. a one-franc piece, or with coins of another system (a dollar, etc.). In the same way [my italics] a word can be exchanged for something dissimilar, an idea; besides, it can be compared with something of the same nature, another word.”

p. 221.

       A poet may use images as ‘ornaments whose beauty bears witness to an exceptional wealth of imagination. In this case, one is hardly concerned with the profound meaning of the metaphor or the comparison, but rather above all with its original brilliance. Now, Platonic images do not recommend themselves solely for their brilliant qualities. Whoever studies them quickly perceives that they are not simply ornaments, but are all destined to express ideas more aptly than would a long elaboration.’ [Pierre Louis, Plato’s Metaphors (Rennes, 1945), pp. 13-4].

p. 222.

       Louis: ‘If we must have a criterion for distinguishing metaphor from comparison, I would say rather that comparison always appears as something external, easily detachable form the work, while metaphor is absolutely indispensable to the meaning of the sentence.’

p. 225.

       Hegel:

‘Every language already contains a mass of metaphors. They arise from the fact that a word which originally signifies only something sensuous is carried over into the spiritual sphere, and many words, to speak generally, which relate to knowing, have in respect of their literal meaning a purely sensuous content, which then is lost and exchanged for a spiritual meaning, the original sense being sensuous, the second spiritual.’

       ‘But gradually the metaphorical element in the use of such a word disappears and by custom the word changes from a metaphorical to a literal expression, because owing to readiness to grasp in the image only the meaning, image and meaning are no longer distinguished, and the image directly affords only the abstract meaning itself instead of a concrete picture. If, for example, we are to take begreifen [grasp, apprehend] in a spiritual sense, then it does not occur to us at all to think of a perceptible grasping by the hand.’ [Aesthetics, pp. 404-5].

p.226.

       “Above all, the movement of metaphorization (origin and then erasure of the metaphor, transition form the proper sensory meaning to the proper spiritual meaning by means of the detour of figures) is nothing other than a movement of idealization.”

       [Michelle B. Walker, Philosophy and the Maternal Body. Plato’s Cave as a philosophical journey: movement from sensory meaning to the Idea]?

p. 231.

       The Aristotelian definition must be recalled, at least the one in the Poetics.

       ‘Metaphor consists in giving the thing a name that belongs to something else, the transference being either from genus to species, or from species to genus, or from species to species, or on the grounds of analogy.’

 

p. 201.

       For Jakobson, “metaphor is linked with la langue and metonymy with la parole, since relations of contiguity are manifested in the actual combinations of speech sequences.”

       But Umberto Eco “inverts the Jakobsonian relationship, apparently because he thinks of systems and codes as spatial. If the system is spatial, then relations between items in the system may be thought of as relations of contiguity and hence as metonymic. Codes connect…. the notion of ‘a beautiful woman’ with the feature ‘a long white neck’; they also connect ‘swan’ with ‘a long white neck’ and thus make possible, through these two relations of contiguity, the metaphorical substitution of swan for woman (or woman for swan). Eco argues that ‘a metaphor can be invented because language, in its process of unlimited semiosis, constitutes a multidimensional network of metonymies, each of which is explained by a cultural convention rather than by an original resemblance.’

       “Though metaphors are often said to be based on the perception of real similarities, even essences, they are to a large extent based on contingent cultural conventions (there is scant physical basis for comparing women with swans), as becomes apparent when one reads poems from a radically different culture.”

       “To maintain the primacy of metaphor is to treat language as a device for the expression of thoughts, perceptions, truth. To posit the dependency of [202] metaphor on metonymy is to treat what language expresses as the effect of contingent, conventional relations and a system of mechanical processes. Metaphor and metonymy thus become in turn not only figures for figurality but figures for language in general. In Eco’s argument, the linguistic system is essentially metonymic; for others, language is essentially metaphorical in that it names objects according to perceived similarities.”

p. 203.

       “Claims about primitive modes of perception—that the first men were poets—this need not be the case, since the act of grouping distinct particulars under a common heading on the basis of perceived or imagined resemblance, which is the central act in any narrative of the origin of language, corresponds to the classical definition of metaphor: substitution on the basis of resemblance.” [De Man, Allegories of Reading, Chapter 7] If language originates in figure and is essentially metaphorical, then what we call ‘literal meaning’ or ‘literal language’ is nothing but figurative language whose figurality has been forgotten.”

 

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