By: Abdur Rahim

Episode 3: Love Metaphor

A metaphor is a figure of speech that implies a connection between two things. It can create a word picture that grabs the listener’s attention and helps that person to see what you are saying. It can also convey the emotions behind your words to clarify your message, making it an effective relationship instrument. The second sentence is related to not only love but also marriage and other relationships metaphors.

Metaphors are how we navigate through life. So, metaphors of love are how we navigate the journey of love and marriage. Metaphor is the main mechanism through which we comprehend abstract concepts and perform abstract reasoning. Conceptually, our metaphor system is central to our understanding of experience and to the way we act on that understanding. Love begins with a metaphor. Love is an emotion which affects so deeply the human being that an endless number of metaphors has been elaborated. It is conceptualized as a journey, plant, fire, unity and so forth. Since heart is the most important internal organs it is always used to express love among human beings. So, love, (symbolized in the heart) is considered as a valuable object. Therefore, we can coin the metaphor “The heart is a breakable object”. As commonly we say my love has broken my heart when love is failed. Being granted the condition of object, the heart can own its typical features and be treated as such, and that it is possible to “possess” someone´s heart or “give it” in a love relationship between two individuals. Some metaphors describe our love as something living, such as “I see our love growing through the years” or “without communication and attention, our love dies.”

 

Love – our hearts yearn for it, we fall into it or out of it, we’ll do almost anything to attain and keep it. Those who have experienced the “power of love” whirl from its embrace. It is delicious anguish, gut-wrenching pain, and intoxicating allure. Nations go to war over it, crimes are committed to satisfy its demands, lives are often ruined because of it, and extraordinary feats of courage and sacrifice are performed in its name. But beyond the cliches, do we really understand what love is, and how it alters the way we think, feel, and behave? Beyond that there are relationships between love and romance, caring, concern, compassion, thoughtfulness, sex, and the many other components that our society jumbles together and their power can give strength to the weakest among us, or turn powerhouses of strength into emotion. Yet, love is such an important part of our lives that we owe it to ourselves to reach beyond overwhelming passion and the roadblocks of illusion to achieve real understanding of this extraordinary human phenomenon. It won’t always be easy, in fact, it’s sometimes quite painful. But the rewards are many for those who will risk exploring their own cherished attitudes about a subject that has held us in its grip for centuries and shows no signs of ending.

 

Love begins with metaphors. Many of these metaphors are familiar ones such as, love as fluid-in-container metaphor, represented as a fluid contained in the body, such that the level of the fluid represents the amount of love; d) love as hidden object metaphor, represented as a hidden object to be sought after; e) love as insanity metaphor, represented as mental illness, such that the person causing the insanity represents the person with whom one is in love, the insane person represents the person in love, and the insane behavior represents the behavior of the person in love; f) love as a journey metaphor, represented as a journey, thus highlighting the aspects of purpose, progress, and problems in the love relationship; g) love as a natural force metaphor, represented as a storm, flood, or wind, thus highlighting the aspects of the intensity of love and the lack of control of those in love; h) love as nutrient metaphor, represented as necessary sustenance; i) love as a physical force metaphor, represented as a force such as gravity, electricity, or magnetism, thus highlighting a conception of love as something over which a person has no choice and for which he is not responsible; j) love as unity metaphor, represented as two complementary parts becoming one.

 

According to Kövecses, the conceptualization of romantic love and emotion in general on a generic level is, to a considerable extent, universally shared. The universal motivation that enables the metaphors to emerge in different cultures is the shared bodily experience. While metaphors tend to be universal or near-universal on a generic level, they are different cross-linguistically. However, the causes of cross cultural metaphor variation on a specific level are mainly differential experience, cultural context, history and experiential focusii. Kövecses claims that conceptual metaphors play very significant role in providing the structure of emotional concepts, such as love. The conceptual metaphors that structure to the concept of love in almost all societies are primarily are the metaphors stated earlier such as, love is a hot fluid in a container; love is a unity of two complementary parts; love is fire; love is insanity; love is a rapture; love are natural and physical forces; love is a social superior; love is an opponent; love is a journey, so and so forth. All these expressions are comprehended through a great number of conceptual metaphors. These metaphors are the expressions, and the ways we talk about love and relationships and make sense of our love experience through everyday language. We, knowingly or unknowingly, are aware of the metaphoric versions that we use for the emotions of love. But I doubt, we rarely understand or describe these expressions consciously. The concept of love in the eastern societies shares most of the metaphorical source domain of emotion and love concepts in general, but may be with variable understanding and spirit compared to western societies that are prevailing today. (To be continued……………)