Responsive Textabation #5 — Metaphor and the binary as structures understanding the abstract (so freaking true)

Because I cannot leave well enough alone, I will discuss two quotes. The first quote is included because it is the essential framework for the essay to be communally comprehendible and fulfills the assignment. The second quote is chosen because it can be easily mapped over culture and the position of artist/theorist as a dissonant function of that culture, followed by the culture practices within the academy to control, reintegrate and normalize the artist/theorist and the resultant deformations to the system caused by dissonance. This mapping seems relevant to the inclusion of interdisciplinarity routes for art and theory within the academy.

“… that metaphor is the inescapable means by which we map knowledge across the domains of physical embodiment and abstract conceptualization:

Metaphor pervades our normal conceptual system. Because so many of the concepts that are important to us are either abstract or not clearly delineated in our experience (the emotions, ideas, time, etc.), we need to get a grasp on them by means of other concept that we understand in clear terms (spatial orientations, objects, etc.). This need leads to metaphorical definition in our conceptual system.

Lakoff and Johnson have argued that metaphors tend to cluster … “image schemas,” such as CONTAINERS, PATHS … FORCES … BALANCE …”

— Straus, Joseph Nathan. “Disability Within Music-Theoretical Traditions.” Extraordinary Measures: Disability in Music. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2011. 107. 

In this quote referencing the work of Lakoff and Johnson, Straus establishes the essential need for and function of metaphor in understanding abstract ideas and experiences such as music. He presents ideological clusters—containers, paths, forces, balance—based on similarities of metaphorical constructs that he will use to explain the uniformity, variation and risk that occurs in music. Further, the metaphorical construct of the human body and the correlating ideological clusters of container, paths, force and balance, Straus indicates are already implicit in the language and practice of music. He goes on to discuss ideas extrapolated as a result of mapping the human body metaphor over music—that the form of music like the body is categorized into binaries—normal and abnormal, formed and deformed, mobile and paralyzed, balanced and imbalanced, enabled and disabled. So Straus specifically identifies the metaphor, the metaphorical language and binaries and the pros and cons of their use in how they have traditionally been applied to music theoretically and practically. His entire essay hinges on the reader understanding these terms and relationships. Additionally by quoting Lakoff and Johnson, Straus frames his application and unpacking of metaphor and the resultant language in a pre-existing peer vetted knowledge base versus being a manifestation of his mere opinion. Straus legitimizes his essay with this move and other similar references within the piece—BAM, scholarly and not an opinion, editorial or touchy feely piece.

—-the end of the requested—-

That we cannot pin down the abstract experience and thus produce knowledge and apply it through systems of parallel almost equivalents and opposition relationships is profoundly interesting. We are limited to only understand “this” from “that” and definitely the not “that.”

—-Kathy’s blah, blah, blah, reactive need.
Second quote (paragraphs 2 + 3 of page 118)—Waaaa, too tired to show how artists are the cultural abnormalities—blockages, perforations, dissonance—within the body of culture and the academies role to harness these deformations to prevent cultural implosion or paralysis. So the academy functions as the cultural bodies normalizing system thus allowing for a degree of artistly dissonance, absorption of what is useful, and regulating/repressing/remedying the disability. Within the academy additional dissonances began deforming the already normalized domains, this in “Turn” has been regulated through the creation of interdisciplinary studies the regulate and normalize evolving Theory and differences expressed as cries of oppression from otherness. This is purely my opinion in response to the metaphor of the reading and not scholarly justified. I’ve a Bonaventure paper to finish that has to establish Immersion (Piss Christ), The Dinner Party, and A Fire in My Belly as an inherently beautiful things that leads one back into union with divine mystery, God, despite congressional and religious right moral uproar. Dang straight, it is doable, but I’ve got to get it written up in a coherent and scholarly fashion as I parrot congressional documents, spew sacred texts and justify St. Bonaventure. Sigh.


There may be no better example with which to think about the aesthetics of human disqualification than the medical photography.

—Tobin Siebers, “The Aesthetics of Human Disqualification,” in Disability Aesthetics (2010), 44. 

[My bad, I have addressed Tobin as female, he is male] This statement comes late in her essay after she has effectively linked a sequence of relationships—human disqualification based on disability by assumed inferences of inferiority, philosophical aesthetics as structured on an acceptance and rejection of object/other based on wholeness and difference (defect), biology as a disqualifier being a cultural construct. Seibers has cogently made a case for her argument “that … disqualification is justified through the accusation of mental or physical inferiority based on aesthetic principles” in her discussion of the philosophy of aesthetics, Hitler’s tauting of Great German Art vs Degenerate Art, and the public reaction to Alison Lapper Pregnant: “Why Shouldn’t My Body Be Considered Art?” The quote from page 44 of her chapter highlights as important and leads into her final support for her argument. Though she has already fully supported her argument and driven the point home with her previous examples, this statement claims that this will be her strongest support yet—“no better example.” Unfortunately, this section appears highly forced to fit into her established aesthetic argument structure. The topic is a viable application of cultural production of the positioning of disabilities as a qualifier for inferiority and thus a human disqualifier, but she does not link it adequately to her aesthetic argument. It is common in an argument to work in three examples of support. Medical photography is one of her three and her inability to structure cogently with the previous portion of her argument weakens the entire chapter. The intended function of this quote as highlighting her final argument’s support as being the strongest instead weakened her previously established ideas.

 Crap, I do this all the time when trying to manipulate that initial notion or important point I thought belonged at one time to fit into my current structure in which it no longer fits.

 …a writer writes … he intended several urgent and vivid points, many of which he sacrificed as the book’s form hardened … The part you must jettison … was to have been the very point … (perhaps it was) the passage on which the rest was to hang, and from which you drew the courage to begin.— Annie Dillard, The Writing Life.


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