Communication as ... analogy

Analogy is a core feature of human cognition. We think in analogies. For small children first acquiring languange, every round object is a “ball” until they learn to discern the differences amid the similarities: baseball, basket ball, orange. Analogy may be defined variously as the search for similarity amid otherness, the quest for proportion between object that are different, or the practice of making the strange familiar. Analogy has much to offer an iconophilic communication theory. In visual analogy consciousness as the art of conneting, art historian Barbara Stafford describes analogy as “a general theory of artful invetion” and “a practice of intermedia communication”.(1999,p.8). She suggest that analogy does not critically emphasize similarity to the exclusion of differences, but rather it teaches discernment (such as learning to tell the difference between a baseball and an orange). We treat visual communication analogically when we recognize conneting even in the midst of disjuncture.
Consider one last time our hypothetical photograph. What would it mean to engange this photograph from a point of view that frames communication as anaogy? Its would mean searching foe conneting amid the differences we might locate within the image, as well as between the image and our experiances of the world. Unlike an orientation to surveillance that emphasized the disconneting of the police officer from the unemployed men, attention to analogy might entail recognizing how all the men (as well as the photographer and viewer) are implicated in broader questions about poverity. Attention to analogy might entail recognizing the unemployment line in something more than an image; it might even remind the viewer if the similar place located near where he or she lives. It might entail making associations with ways that poverity and state power have been illustrated in other media, both past and present. Ultimately, attention to analogy openss up, rather than closes off, avenues for interpretation because it leaves space fo the agency of the viewer. The viewer is neither the suspicious or oppresed viewer of the surveillance metaphor, nor the passive viewer of the spectacle metaphor. Instead, the analogical viewer is an engaged vierwer who sees connection, who uses her or his own knowledge and experience to make sense of what he or she sees and to put thins together. Unlike surveillance or spectacle, the metaphor of analogy does not discates the parameters of the viewing experience but rather makes it possible for the viewer to construct the viewing experinces for herself or himself.
While the other metaphor I have disscused construct a disempowered or passive audience for communication, analogy requires active, discerning, creatives audiences. Framing communication as analogy does not ignore aspect of surveillance and spectacle, but it is not limited to (or by) them. As a practice of “intermedia communication” analogy offer communication theory a way to liberity itself from the ichonophobia often found in communication scholarship on the visual. Visual communication conceived analogically is not something that happens to audiences (surveillance) or aparth from them (spectacle), but rather in communion with them. To paraphrase Dewey, analogy is a “participator”.
Indeed, analogy is more than a mere metaphor for communication. It is a perceptual process tied directly to how humans come to know and learn. It is a core part of communication scholar Ann Marie Seward Barry (1997) has called “visual intelligence”.
We must also that the principles of perceptual process are the keys to creative thinking as well—reaching out beyond our past and into the future, and in doing so to recognize in relationship implied in analogy, metaphor, and symbol the means to pennerate the mysteries of the universe.(p.67)
The editor of this volume undestand the foundational role of analogy, for the very desire the explore diverse metaphors for communication is analogical an impilicit search amid difference.
Perhaps the biggest drawback to relying upon analogy as a metaphor for communication is its potensial misapplication. Tipical views of analogy treat it solely as the search for similary. Arguably, one danger of emphsizing communication is analogy might be that our communication theories could devolve into pie-in-the-sky quests for possitive connetion at the expense of understanding differences, disjuncture, or seek to “overcome” it. Rather, it recognize difference and attempts creatively to negotiate it by juxtaposing it with point of connetion and similarity; “seeing is about being struck that something is, or can be conneted to somthing else” (stafford, 1999, p.138). if we are to have a communication theory that allow us to “see,” that accommodates the ful range of communicative phenomena, then we need theories that offer richer conceptions of the visual. Of the three metaphor for vision that I have presented here, analogy best allows for such as a conception.

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