Sunday, August 22, 2010

metaphor and knowledge

There are two forms of knowledge, or presumed knowledge-- that which we can explain and is based on reason, and that which we cannot explain rationally which is often based on fear, conjecture and emotion or conversely, trust and love. And while inexplicable knowledge may actually be false, it tends to seem even more real to those subject to its effects.

An example is the "ground zero mosque" which isn't at ground zero, but rather two blocks away and isn't planned as a mosque, but a community center. The project has been used to stimulate huge public outcry against the Muslim faith. The term "ground zero mosque" is being used as a metaphor to incite unreasonable emotions to gain control of the electorate. While it is all a despicable example of American politics, the situation is a good one to illustrate the relationship between the explicable, inexplicable and the metaphor used as bridge between the two.

3 comments:

cbolyard said...

This is not just American politics....but also muslim politics....the community center, or whatever anyone calls it, would never have been planned to be built there if we had not lost our twin towers. This is not a residential area, it is a business area and it does not need to be there. It is a political move started not by Americans, but by leaders of the muslim world who want to discredit this country any way possible.

Doug Stowe said...

I guess I opened the door to some discussion of this by my choice of metaphors to use as an example.

The imam building the community center is a sufi, the Muslim equivalent of Quaker, the most peace loving, non-violent of faiths. I'm not sure how you got your particular insight into his motivation, but we really do need peacemakers from all faiths, and to confuse him with Bin Laden and that kind of radical extremist is the kind narrow minded thinking that those coming up with the metaphor intended to incite.

I don't know how much time you've spent in New York, but even in what appear to be business zones, the upper floors are often residential or industrial. Are you familiar with that specific neighborhood? I've been there, and there are grocery stores, and other busineses built on there being residents, so why not a Muslim community center? My daughter's dorm at Columbia University is above restaurants. The whole of Manhattan is surprisingly residential.

When you run into metaphors observe how they make you feel, and also see if you can figure out who is trying to make you feel that way and why.

Metaphors can offer valuable insight, but they can also be used to deceive, distract and manipulate, which was part of the point of my post.

Doug Stowe said...

Also, I would not say we "lost our twin towers" but that they were destroyed by terrorists. It is important to know specifically who those terrorists are. Do we spread a wide net as was done by the Bush administration while letting the terrorists escape? Do we blame all Muslims and assume they are all guilty? Our nation was founded from the get-go for the free practice of religion and by those fleeing persecution of their religious faith. And so despite the angry rhetoric I hope we all cool down and set a better example for the world with regard to how we can show respect for each other.