I Is an Other
James Geary / Harper / 2011-2-8
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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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