New metaphors can create new realities Lakoff and Johnson, coauthors of “Metaphors we Live By”, speak of a newly arrived Iranian student who had mistaken the constant refrain he heard from other students that “the solution of my problems” meant that they were talking about a metaphor that was unfamiliar to him but sounded very intriguing. This Iranian student was very disappointed when he discovered that these other students were speaking in frustration rather than of a new and wonderful metaphor. He had mistaken this ‘solution of my problems’ was some kind of chemical mixing bowl, “which he took to be a large volume of liquid, bubbling and smoking, containing all of their problems, either dissolved or in the form of precipitates, with catalysts constantly dissolving some problems (for the time being) and precipitating out others.” The authors see this as an accidently developed but marvelous new metaphoric means for viewing problems and their solutions. The normal metaphor for problem solving is usually the puzzle metaphor, ‘problem is puzzle’. This new problem metaphor, ‘problems in solution’, offers a deliciously new and useful slant on the nature of problems and the nature of solving problems in life. ‘Problems in solution’ metaphor would entail: • Problems never completely disappear • Solving one problem may precipitate another • Since we have little control of what goes into he pot we constantly find new ones and old ones under another guise • A catalyst for solving one problem my promote another • A temporary problem solution may be the most we can hope for • Problems are part of the natural order of things The ‘problem is puzzle’ metaphor leads us to believe that there is an ultimate right solution whereas the ‘problems in solution’ does not. All this does not mean that it is easy to change metaphors that we live by but it does point up the importance of metaphor and how metaphors affect our world view and our daily mundane existence. Can you think of a new but marvelous metaphor? Can metaphors help save us from our self? Is ‘war and terrorism’ a useful metaphor? For whom is it useful?