Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Any idea how influential images are?

Details. I'm a man of details. I pick the images or metaphors I use in my communication  - in case you missed it - with great care. I do not only pick them with great care I also 'play' with them. Surprised? Any idea how influential images are? Did you know that every language has it's own historical biased set of metaphors? Did you know that in Dutch there are a lot of images who can be traced back to the Dutch 'Golden Age' of the 17th century? Did you know that the explorations of the 15th and 16th century have left their traces in  Portuguese and Spanish?

Let me use an example, we all are very familiar are with, to explain what I am pointing at. Images of 'love':
  • river: floating and never the same
  • game: win or lose
  • prison: feel locked up and always longing for being somewhere else
  • alpha and omega of life: begin and end
  • unit of raising kids: bond between man and wife to reproduce species 'homo sapiens'
  • other half of me: your 1/2 and my 1/2 = 1
  • hunting: hunter and prey
What's my point? If we look at love from an 'Other half of me' point of view we live our lives expecting to find her one day. Who? The one who will make my 1/2 soul 1. If I can't find her I'll be disappointed and frustrated. If my present love will have it's downs (ups are never the contraint) I'll conclude that she in retrospect was not the '1' I was looking and longing for. The relation will not last.

If we look at love from the 'Unit of raising kids' image of Desmond Morris we will learn that  man and wife join together to get procreated. Morris also tells that a good relation evolves from pair forming sex  (high intensity) to pair binding sex (less intense). If you expect to always have pair forming kind of sex any relation will be a disappointment.  

What has all this to do with you? I try to make you sensitive for the fact that we sometimes are trapped in the image we use for something. The image we use is like a prison - this is a metaphor too. It  tell us what we see and don't see. It predicts what makes us happy and sad. It even defines our definition on happiness.

The bible, Matthew 7:24-29 says: "built your house on rock and not on sand". At first sight we'd better not built our house on sand because it's not rock. But! If we look at sand like a 'sea of sand' a window of opportunities is opened. A houseboat is perfectly capable to navigate on any dessert. 

Tell me. When was the last time that you realised that you could escape from a "trap" by using another metaphor?

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