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Meaning, Mind and Communication

Explorations in Cognitive Semiotics

Jordan Zlatev, Göran Sonesson and Piotr Konderak

This volume constitutes the first anthology of texts in cognitive semiotics – the new transdisciplinary study of meaning, mind and communication that combines concepts and methods from semiotics, cognitive science and linguistics – from a multitude of established and younger scholars. The chapters deal with the interaction between language and other semiotic resources, the role of consciousness and concepts, the nature of metaphor, the specificity of human evolution and development, the relation between cognitive semiotics and related fields, and other central topics. They are grouped in four sections: (i) Meta-theoretical perspectives, (ii) Semiotic development and evolution, (iii) Meaning across media, modes and modalities, (iv) Language, blends and metaphors.

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Chapter 22. “A Light in the Darkness”: Making Sense of Spatial and Lightness Perception (Marco Bagli)

Extract

Marco Bagli

Chapter 22

“A Light in the Darkness”: Making Sense of Spatial and Lightness Perception

1. Introduction

This chapter reveals and confirms the implicit association between space and lightness by looking at the correlation between these two domains in two narratives (Demian, by Hermann Hesse and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, hence TRHPS, by Jim Sharman). In both texts there is a strong association between the two domains used to create meaning in the unfolding of the plot. Space is described in terms of lightness, and lightness is given a spatial connotation, following a seemingly recurring pattern where the spatial semantic categories of in and out are associated with the perceptual categories of light and dark. Both kinds of associations are possible, as both are experientially motivated, i.e. the implicit association of in with light and out with dark and vice versa; the association of in with dark and out with light. For instance, the first association (in with light and out with dark) is motivated by an experience such as a lit room at night, when it is light inside and dark outside. It is not uncommon though that the opposite situation be activated (in with dark and out with light). This can be the case of a daytime experience looking out of a room into the sunlight, or the case of a tunnel, where we are in the dark and can see the opening of light at the end....

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