Sketchplanations

Explaining the world one sketch at a time

Primary metaphor - Sketchplanations

Primary metaphor

One of the few books I've read all in one sitting is Metaphors We Live By, by George Lakoff. It was so fascinating learning how some of the most fundamental concepts we use to govern our lives are understood through metaphor. For example, one understanding of time is through our experience of space, so it seems natural to say, the hard times are behind us, or, I'm looking forward to the future. Or that Ideas Are Objects so you can give someone an idea, or toss a few ideas around. Or that Understanding Is Grasping, so you can get the idea, or get to grips with a concept. Primary metaphor is a theory of how these metaphorical understandings may form when we're young as we associate abstract ideas with direct experience. So it's natural that, when we're young, important things are often big and can exert control over us, leading to Important Is Big — Tomorrow's a big day, it's just a little thing, It was a huge deal. Or experiencing warmth when we feel affection leading to Affection Is Warmth — he greeted me warmly, she gave me the cold shoulder. Or how sometimes to know something is to see something, such as when we find out what's in a box by seeing what's in a box, leading to Knowing Is Seeing — I see what you mean, that's clear to me know, I'm feeling in the dark on that, let's shed some light on the matter. Other examples of primary metaphor from Philosophy in the Flesh by Lakoff and Johnson include: More Is Up — from seeing things increase in height when there is more of them eg the prices are rising Difficulties Are Burdens — from difficult things literally being harder to deal with eg I'm feeling a bit weighed down at the moment States Are Locations — from associating experiences with actual places eg I'm in a rut right now, but I'll get out of it. Bad Is Stinky — from bad things actually smelling bad eg that movie stinks Purposes Are Destinations — from achieving goals when we get somewhere such as having a drink eg I'm going to be a star but I'm not there yet There are many more, plus the whole world of metaphor guiding how we construct our place in the world is fascinating. The theory of primary metaphor is from Joseph Grady. If the gif is annoying here are individual static images (and prints) for: Primary metaphor (print), Knowing Is Seeing (print), Affection Is Warmth (print)
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Settlement patterns - Sketchplanations

Settlement patterns

I like these common settlement patterns — look out for them. Nucleated settlements, or clustered settlements, gather around one or more central hubs like a church or a square. Linear settlements form alongside roads or landscape features like waterways or shoreline. Dispersed settlements are common in agricultural areas where houses or farmsteads are spread out but form a loose settlement area. Isolated settlements are the loners in the most magical and isolated wilderness by themselves.
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Be open to be changed - Sketchplanations

Be open to be changed

It's all too easy. Someone's talking with you and you make a connection to a story to share or a solution to give. From that point on it's so easy to switch off from what they're sharing with you and just be waiting for your moment to jump in and regale your story, or share your solution. You might have noticed it when it's happened to you — it didn't seem to matter what you said, they didn't really seem to take in what you were saying and why it was important, it just bounced off. It's not very satisfying. The alternative is to really listen, perhaps to listen with the same passion with which we want to be heard. It can be a little scary. You might not have an answer, and what you hear might challenge your beliefs or teach you something you didn't really want to learn — it might change you — and it requires effort. But it's surely a better way to relate to each other. I don't get this right all the time, but I did at least become aware of it when learning improvisation with Dan Klein and the second rule of improv: be spontaneous.
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Brilliance bias - Sketchplanations

Brilliance bias

Brilliance bias is the tendency for people to think of 'brilliance' as generally a male trait. With fewer women generally recorded in the history books, the brilliant people that come to mind from a young age tend to be men. Underrepresentation has consequences. Careers that are generally understood to require 'brilliance' to succeed such as maths, physics, or philosophy, are likely to have fewer women working in them. Even at school age, attitudes start to shift in both girls and boys. For example, having interest in games that require you to be 'really smart' or whether, when asked to draw a scientist, we draw a woman or a man. We need to stop teaching brilliance bias and we need to celebrate the many female role models we have. My sister shared with me a page on drawing famous faces that showed 49 men to draw, and an example of the board game Guess Who having as many women to guess as it has men with facial hair as an attribute. I learned about brilliance bias, including the examples here, from Caroline Criado Perez's eye-opening book Invisible Women.
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