Towards a reconception of power

Modernising our magical thinking

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  • Published 20200203
  • ISBN: 9781925773804
  • Extent: 264pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

IT WOULD BE disconcerting to wake up one day and discover that everything we thought was real in the world we live in was simply a fantasy constructed out of some flimsy, mismatched old metaphors. Though most of us can go through life without ever noticing, the truth is many of the things we experience as reality, culturally speaking, are thanks to this subversive power of language.

Whenever we think things are looking up (why up, not down?), or when we look to the days and the weeks ahead of us (rather than behind, around, above), we enable language to shape our relationship to the world in fundamental ways. Every time we worry about wasting time doing things not worth our while (as if time is a limited resource that can run out, like money), or give people ideas or power over us (like finite objects or substances that can be lost once transferred), or shoot down their arguments (as if arguments were wars), we rarely see that these things could have been conceptualised differently. New ways of speaking may make us linguistically a little uncomfortable as we become more aware of how reality could work, but that can give us a certain power to act, to change our realities.

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About the author

Chi Luu

Chi Luu is a computational linguist, researcher and writer. She is the language columnist for JSTOR Daily. Her work has also appeared in The...

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