The Semeiosis of Poetic Metaphor by Michael C. Haley

By Michael C. Haley

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If, in the presence of semantic tension, we cannotwith any confidencelocate an icon (or icons) whose presence in the frame seems to be a focus of the tension among the metaphor's referents, then we cannot proceed confidently with interpretation. This describes precisely a condition of "false metaphor" or simple anomaly. " whose morphemic structure was understood to be square + circle. Given this linguistic information about the word, we would understand the conventional symbolic referents of the two morphemes (a circle and a square); we would further recognize as existing between them a state of semantic tension, very much like that of a metaphorical index, inviting us to look for a figurative interpretation.

What strikes me about this example is that < previous page page_31 If you like this book, buy it! next page > < previous page page_32 next page > Page 32 Peirce discussed it not in the traditional vocabulary of deduction but in terms of sexual procreation: The unspoken conclusion is suggested as the embryonic "offspring"; the major premise, in supplying "the sphere" for that "new symbol," is treated as the female; the minor premise, by injecting "the content,'' becomes the male. This is no mere ornamental analogy; it may very well be, in Peirce's words, a "great analogy" to human reproduction (W: 497).

Why has something of the same sort not been said about Peirce's hypoicons? If there is an isomorphism between the two trichotomies of signs (as would be natural to expect, given Peirce's habit of delineating parallel trichotomies), we should find "degenerate" metaphors in which images dominate (imaginal metaphors), "degenerate" metaphors in which diagrams dominate (analogical < previous page page_35 If you like this book, buy it! in which the very principle of metaphoricity itself dominates. Given the possibility of it, what might such a "principle of metaphoricity" be?

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