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The Power of Metaphor in the Age of Electronic Media.

Raymond Gozzi, Jr., The Power of Metaphor in the Age of Electronic Media. Cresskill, New Jersey: Hampton Press, 1999.

In his new book Raymond Gozzi, Jr., an associate professor of communications at Ithaca College and the editor of the "Metaphors in Action" feature in ETC, offers forty-four compelling and provocative essays that deal with the subject of metaphor - a subject of vital interest to general semanticists since metaphors play a key role in the creation of human worldviews.

The author argues here that metaphors are increasing in power due to the prominence of electronic media. For example, we envision new technologies and define our relationship to them in figures of speech such as the "information superhighway," the "computer virus," "hot and cool media," and "cyberspace." Through the use of these metaphors we both illuminate and cast shadows on our understanding of new technology (e.g., cyberspace is not space - in fact it annihilates space).

Neil Postman, who wrote the foreword to this book, believes that The Power of Metaphor in the Age of Electronic Media should be read with care because the role of metaphor in how we construe the world is rarely taken seriously in school. He writes, "For the most part metaphor is taught as an ornament to poetic expression, which is to say, something that is used only by poets in order to increase the vividness of their imagery." However, Postman believes the use of metaphor is far more central to our existence and argues that if every teacher were to read Gozzi's book, the very nature of education would be radically altered (perhaps the U.S. Department of Education ought to consider funding such a project).

This book also contains an introductory section which clearly describes theories of metaphor from Aristotle to contemporary linguistics; it gives a history of metaphor in oral, writing, print, and electronic cultures; and it provides guidelines on "How to Do a Metaphorical Analysis" - a four step process that involves identifying the metaphors, exploring their implications, suggesting alternative metaphors, and examining who uses them. If you are interested in mastering the ins and outs of metaphors, and do not want to be mastered by them, please do yourself a favor and read this excellent book. If you'll permit me a metaphor, on this very important subject, Gozzi's book is "cutting edge."
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Title Annotation:Review
Publication:ETC.: A Review of General Semantics
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Dec 22, 1999
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