Sign and Metaphor Yi-Fu Tuan Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 68, No. 3. (Sep., 1978), pp. 363-372.

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they respond to their environment with feeling and thought. Calif. Printed in U. to the contrary. Tuan is Professor o f Geography at the University o f Minnesota in Minneapolis. however. No. and the symbol.SIGN AND METAPHOR YI-FU TUAN ABSTRACT. by studying this process. September 1078 363 . 3. This feeling. If the town were abandoned by its present inhabitants and resettled by people o f totally alien culture. images. An answer is to be found in the idea that the capacity to feel deeply-to see the world vividly-and the capacity to innovate are closely linked. 1968).ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN GEOGRAPHERS O 1978 by the Assoc~ationof American Geographers. ANNALS OF THE. If there is a pedestrian mall or bridge. Inside the buildings.: Stanford University Press. one generation will pass and another take its place. and ideas.l In the course of time. ROUTINE BEHAVIOR AND SIGNS Innovation presupposes a background of stability and order. 116. This is the natural emphasis of humanist scholars. A comprehensive human geography will need to embrace the whole spectrum of human awareness. may simply reflect the narrow focus of individual experience. which some people like to describe as almost a jungle. they are propelled to feel and think? The second question is: what is the nature of a people's affective and thoughtimbued response to environment? Phrased differently. we can safely predict that most people will walk on the right side even though the law does not require them to do so. 68. and making decisions. another in a large department store. human geography we sometimes treat peoINple as though they have little or no awareness. Both approaches are valid. Both presuppose a mind that is able to apprehend and create the affective sign. Even the modern city.A. tive behavior is manifest in multiple ways during the ordinary course of living. A bird's-eye view of the city will show streams of cars moving on the right lanes. Vol. they would require 198 instruction books and/or training programs to reconstitute the behavior environment o f Midwest. thinking. there will be changes in environmenFor a county seat (population 830) in eastern Kansas. Humanist geographers. the metaphor. though each is limited by its own restrictive view of the person. M N 55455. a third in the public library. the metaphor. Ecological Psychology (Stanford. are there means of exploring the nature and process of the human imagination so that we can better understand what lies at the heart of humanistic geography-the felt quality of the human world? I shall address myself to the second question. willing. will better understand the "felt quality" of environment and the problems of design. people behave at times almost like automata with hardly a hint of conscious awareness. On the other hand.S. This is the approach of sociophysicists. at other times. p. We feel at times that ours is a chaotic and constantly changing world. and the symbol. displays order-the order of routine and predictable activities. Synesthesia. Environment is vivid because the stimulus a person receives from one source can generate multiple and unexpected sensations. The capacity to feel deeply about the environment and the ability to innovate-these two primary concerns of the humanist geographer-are closely linked. Roger Barker has identified "198 standing patterns o f behavior and milieu with noninterchangeable programs. and symbolic thought are different modes of this process: they differ in the degree of conscious awareness and in the content of articulable ideas. From the standpoint of a comprehensive human geography. stopping when the traffic lights turn red. metaphorical predication." Roger Barker. two questions may be raised concerning human awareness. but that which lies at their root is the uniquely developed human power to apprehend and create the affective sign. people will behave by and large in standard patterns: one pattern in the dentist's office. we sometimes postulate a world in which people are always feeling. and so 0n. One is: what are the circumstances under which people behave like automata and what are the circumstances under which. In fact. InnovaDr.

1955). For example. In short. 1953). know how to interpret appropriately the signs in their respective environments: they must in order to survive. one in which the signs are unan~biguousin their call for specific types of behavior. 68-74 and in the paper "Images and Mental Maps. p. Langer. and complexity of signs to which each species will r e ~ p o n d Such . 5 On the schematic nature of the animal world. ~ worlds. 1977). We answer bells. 60. Feeling and Form (New York: Scribner's. N. N. 1958). is the most elementary and most tangible sort of intellection. No one. . are often little more than automatic "speech acts" prompted by successive signs such as a colleague standing by the elevator and the secretary behind her desk. . I see the hands of the bedside clock ~ o i n t to six and I get up. A world in which human beings respond unthinkingly to environmental signs makes for that essential order or stability without which innovation cannot arise. like the traffic signals. Price. 1969). and is an aid to thought and day-dreaming. Vol. Words and Things (New York: The Free Press. pp. and the system is maintained by a co-ordination of conditioned reflexes ." Susanne K. 96. Seamon. see D. pp. An affective sign elicits an imaginative and emotion-tinted response. Langer. I get into my car. . drive down the road and when I see the Esso gas station I turn right. p. 1972). A symbol encapsulates and nurtures an idea or a set of ideas. pp." Herbert A. ~is not surprising that the scientist's abstract models should often prove adequate to the explanatory description of these schematic worlds. Mass. Roger Brown. human beings respond more or less automatically to signs in the environment. 1) . 1949). that is to say. pp. pp."he dif2 A. I have explored this theme in Space and Place: T h e Perspective of Experience (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. pp. 39-42. is quite simple. and it is occasionally used for thought (Fig. 65 (1975). BEYOND SIGNS In routine activities. and equally obvious criteria of truth and falsehood. Animals presumably do not distinguish between natural signs and artificial o r fortuitous signs. 26. but they use both kinds to guide their practical activities. my social speech is made up of clichCs that fit snuggly into the repertoire of customary gestures."G All animals. Clark University. . ference lies mainly in the number. There will be no foresight." On another page: "Only human pride argues that the apparent intricacies of our path stem from a quite different source than the intricacy of the ant's path. 1977. type. 3 "The interpretation of signs is the basis of animal intelligence. An environment in which people are at home is one wherein they have established a routine. 1970). that has Human beings respond not only to signs but also to affective signs and symbols. T h e Organization o f Behavior (New York: John Wiley. We d o the same thing all day long. Whitehead. 71-72. ~ b this t stable world of reiterative patterns is little different in its fundamental. Affective signs are within the experiobvious biological uses. obey warning signals. . because they are uninformed or only weakly informed by imaginative feeling and thought. tend to be ~ c h e m a t i cIt . T h e Sciences of the Artificial (Cambridge. intelligence vanishes. The apparent complexity of his behavior over time is largely a reflection of the complexity of the environment in which he finds himself. are programmed machines without human occupants. Thinking and Experiencing (London: Hutchinson University Library. 52-53. 4 "A man. but what must impress the objective observer is their stability: cars still stop or go when the lights change as though the cars. Simon. but contains fresh metaphors. A sign is an aid to action. Hebb. unpublished doctoral dissertation. . 205-13. . pp. which seem to call for thought. A. 1968). need understand the system as a whole. It "serves to make one conceive the idea it represents. including human beings. psychological characteristics from the worlds of animals. Even the words I use. H. from President t o miner. Movement. Philosophy in a Ncw Key (New York: Mentor Book. but there will be complete success in the maintenance of routine. Rest. and Roger Muchielli. Avon Book. follow arrows . a feeling. I define "sign" as that which triggers off a movement or act rather than a mood. consistently clichbridden. 93-94. p. The interpretation of signs . I see a toothbrush in a tumbler and I brush my teeth. 0." Annals. Susanne K. Their speech is not mere verbal gesticulation.: MIT Press. Association of American Geographers. and so on to the end of another day. But when the adequate routine is established. On the schematic nature of the human world-the lack of conscious awareness in routine behavior-see David R. Adventures of Ideas (New York: Mentor Book. viewed as a behaving system. or a train of thought. Whitehead put it this way: A system will be the product of intelligence. the kind of knowledge that we share with animals: that we acquire entirely by experience. and Encounter: A Phenomenology of Everyday Environmental Experience. . H.364 YI-Fu TUAN September tal setting and adjustments in behavioral patterns. 168-270. watch the clock. Introduction to Structural Psychology (New York: Equinox.

the cross may well play an unintended role-that of a sign." . Humanistic geography is concerned with the worlds of affect and of thought. a mere landmark for ori- entation in the city. How would an intelligent animal. but it will not be for him a symbol that conduces to thought. The human world is one in which individuals behave (act). The scientific method is best adapted to studying the world of signs (behavioral geography). it differs in important ways from the animal world.a c t i o n W'orld: R o u t i n e . feeling to affective sign. but he cannot see it as a symbol for the idea of law and' order. and the greater the problem of design. and not just signs. I may see it as a symbol of law and order in society. I n a dark foggy night. the glowing red eye may evoke an emotion-tinted response and vaguely stir the imagination. however. Again. AFFECTIVE SIGN AND METAPHOR My speech may be full of tired phrases. affective sign. and think. Synesthesia. thinking to symbol. say. Under certain conditions he may respond to it in dread as to a threatening presence. metaphor. Behavioral field geography ' Aesthetic Affective Humanistic geography \ 1 Sym bolic-abstract Conceptual-exploratory (Study o f ideas a n d concepts) \ V S t a b l e w o r l d : design is feasible . Consider the traffic light. The human world. a dog may be taught to react to a cross in a see~ninglyreverential manner. 1. mere verbal gestures to smooth the social intercourse. Another example is the cross on top of a church. I shall illustrate the meaning of sign. and symbol with two examples. ence of both animals and humans.p r a c t i c a l A c a d e m i c . and simile are way stations to sy~nbolicthought. The greater the awareness the less stable the world becomes. for instance. Symbols exist solely in the human world. The traffic light then becomes an affective sign. Unlike the traffic light. but occasionally I coin a fresh metaphor such as "the red eye of the traffic signal. Engineers put it there for no other purpose. Behavior responds to sign. however. T o many people. The main arrow points in the direction of increasing awareness. It can also be a symbol. or as a symbol around which he can organize his thoughts concerning Christianity. is capable of radical change induced by large shifts in awareness. feel. Because the human world contains affective signs and symbols. A Christian may respond to it as to a sacred objectone that evokes a sense of dread. but to a unique degree among humans. a dog respond to a traffic signal? H e may take it as a sign-perhaps for relieving nature. the cross is meant to be an affective sign. T o motorists it is a sign and calls for suitable action.Behavior (action) Feeling Affective s i g n Thought 3 Sign 4 I Symbol Space: S c h e m a t i c . despite its weight of routine. ' Unstable (innovative) world: design is p r o b l e m a t i c V FIG.

taste or smell) are called forth when stimuli of another sense modality (e.. Odbert. Metaphor and Reality (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 50." for instance. footnote 7. Synesthesia is the blending of sensory experiences. S. rather it is to combine two dissimilar appearances or ideas. and say "that's life." It is a diaphor in the sense that it derives its tensive meaning through combining 7 Philip Wheelwright." The h u ~ n a nresponse to an affective sign is invariably touched by an idea. In human speech. 8 Wheelwright. and that idea when clothed in words reveals its metaphorical structure. We can. But occasionally it functions as an affective sign: it can stir my feeling and imagination. The fortress is an affective sign pointing to. is not clearly understood. 1). The diaphoric meaning of landscape lies not in one image (concretely known) pointing to another. SYNESTHESIA AND METAPHOR How is it possible that stimulus from one object or idea can evoke another image or idea that is only distantly related by analogy? If we have an answer. however. "domain" and "scenery. from "river" to "life"." The body of water here does not call for practical action-"stop. When I am in a fortress I feel God's presence. cit. 2 (1938). To a few-perhaps less than ten percent of any large population sample-this capacity is developed to an exceptional degree. ." Psyclaological Monographs. which lies at the basis of human imagination and thought. It is an individual and personal perspective from a position on the ground." God is an important but fuzzy concept.366 YI-FU TUAN September My habitual relationship with the traffic signal is unimaginative: the signal merely triggers reflex actions. p. Another common association is between the pitch of a sound and the size and shape of an image. The fortress anchors one facet of God-his strength. although of greater worth or importance. strives for the creation of meaning through juxtaposition and synthesk8 Its role is not to point from one thing to another. on the other hand. For example. The other example is "the river of life. or hinting at. A domain or an estate can be surveyed and mapped. is less known (the semantic tenor) ." The epiphor strives for the outreach and extension of meaning through comparison. acquire an insight into the metaphorical process by looking at a physiological and experiential process that resembles it and probably lies at its roots: this is synesthesia (Fig. a message that humans as well as animals understand-but rather it serves as an affective sign. op. 73. The river is an apt epiphoric vehicle."' Consider two rather commonplace examples: "A mighty fortress is our God" and "the river of life.g. hearing or vision) are p r e s e n t e d . Take the word "landscape. Put in another way. is an aesthetic term. we would have solved the problem of human thinking and creativity." Domain belongs to the vocabulary of political and economic discourse. high pitched sounds are small. a vehicle for the outreach and extension of meaning. 3. Kanvoski and H. We look at a stream winding its way to the sea or petering out in a waste of sand. of which the tenor is divine power. 1962). Vol. V.." a condition wherein the hearing of a sound induces the visualization of a certain color. The most common variety of synesthesia would seem to be "colored hearing. Scenery. Thus. Still more common is the association of the pitch of a sound with the brightness of an image. and thunder produce dark images. NO. p.. It looks alive and if I had to describe the appearance I would have said that "the red light looks like an angry eye. in distinction to the epiphor. the fortress is an epiphoric vehicle. p. 72. but rather in both-equally important-imaginatively synthesized. "Colormusic. violins and soprano voices produce white or bright images. dependability." Nothing is closer to us than our own life and yet it seems elusive because we cannot see it. The metaphorical process. drums. vowels are able to evoke colored images with remarkable consistency. whereas squeaks. F. It occurs when "sensations from one sense modality (e.g. two dissimilar entities. What is a metaphor? Philip Wheelwright recognizes two parts in the concept-"epiphor" and "diaphor. something of greater importance. Its essential mark is "to express a similarity between something relatively well known or concretely known (the semantic vehicle) and something which. and protective might. low pitched sounds such as deep voices. " V e all have some capacity for synesthetic experience. it can be viewed objectively from a theoretical point high above. The diaphor.

. 5. that despite differences in language and culture they show similar synesthetic tendencies. blue 0. metaphorical language? Or is he doing both? We have no answer for this particular instance. 1967). S. l-uria. round. op. "The Cross-cultural Generality of Visual-Verbal Synesthetic Tendencies. "heavy" is down." the meaning of an affective sign-its connotative significance -may be transcultural. and yet the "feeling tone" of their worlds may have much in common. green U." Psycholo g y T o d a y . it has such a sharp. No. p. Vol. and if not a specific color for most of us. 11 "You vowels. synesthesia is a probable condition for understanding and inventing metaphors. Charles Osgood notes. 199. The Mind o f a Mnernorzist (New York: Basic Books." Behavi o ~ uS l cicr~cc. cit. footnote 9. Likewise. "Synesthesia. Indeed. T o use a related term "affective sign. the association of verticality and solidity with a sense of demand. Extreme synesthetes are mnemonists of a high order..1° Synesthesia can be highly individualistic and specific. furthermore. p. open pavilions with flexibility or openness. Highly specialized gifts of nature can be a mixed blessing. 1 (1975). then at least the pitch of a sound does suggest images of brightness or darkness. Vol. on the other hand. and Lawrence E. in his study of Anglo-American. H e hears a sound and sees a color as well. here's this fence. 24. of closed solids with fixity or rejection. random alphabets are easy to recall because they are not only shapes but also colors. "A" is black. footnote 14. cit. pp. 38. footnote 7. yellow voice you have. a minimal talent for calculating numbers in the head is a condition for doing mathematics at more advanced levels. and blue color with coldness and passivity. op. 1968). light and rectangularity with adequacy. 152-53. Quotation in Philip Wheelwright. 9. 48-52. p. dark. Morse Peckham. A sound is not only a sound but also a color. To the poet Arthur Rimbaud.13 The human world is richer for our synesthetic tendencies. Navaho. His vivid and phantasmal world resembles in some ways that of a small child. Synesthesia aids memory. has difficulty in appreciating metaphors. or is he speaking in a poetic. was once asked whether he could find his way home from the institute where some tests on his remarkable memory had been conducted. replied: "How could I possibly forget? After all. Marks. which may be an appearance or an idea. Man's Rage for Clzaos (New York: Schocken Books. As a child grows older. whereas low pitched sounds are dark. Culture and language differ among human groups. sian synesthete and mnemonist. "quiet" is horizontal and "noisy" is crooked.. and diffuse. The feeling tone of a phenomenon. deep axis with energy release.. but an exceptional computational gift may hinder the birth of original mathematical ideas. although only his auditory organ has been stimulated by an outside source. is its connotative significance. cit. although-in extreme form -it leads to fantasy. children are known to show stronger synesthetic tendencies than adults. with the resources of language the child can explore the world in imaginative ways without confounding the products of his imagination with reality. piercing sound.ll Synesthesia can also be general and widely shared: for instance the association of red color with warmth and activity. once told the linguist L. Some day I will reveal your hidden identities. It has such a salty taste and feels so rough. but the vividness of direct experience in an extreme synesthete can be an enchantment that hampers the mind from exploring analogies at the level of ideas. For example. Moreover. R. pp. p. it enables the child to get a firmer hold on his world. Luria. 2 (1960). A biological advantage of this capacity is that. here simply reporting on his sensations. op. known to experimenters as S. The Russian mnemonist S. A the black. or between sensations and actual experiences of events. 160.angular and sharply edged. Thus. One person informed Francis Galton that to him the letter "A" is always brown. and Japanese groups. and massive. by aiding memory. No. finds it difficult to distinguish one sensation from another. A person like S. for all three groups."14 The world of an extreme synesthete may be rich but it also tends to be hallucinatory. but we do know that S. the idea "fast" is seen as thin. bright. Vygotsky: "What a crumbly. and near."15 Is S. 1 2 Charles E. Osgood. he depends less on the services of synesthesia and more on the resources of language for a firm grasp on the world and for finding it rich and stimulating." (Arthur Rimbaud). pp. S. E white. 76..12 Morse Peckham postulates a relationship between certain architectural dimensions and human feelings that appear to be synesthetic in character and may also be transcultural: for example. The RusKarwoski and Odbert. People tend to assume that poetry calls 1 4 A. T o them.

At the other extreme we have the learning of language and familiarity with literature. Karwoski. 122. that the pronouns of social life (the "I. All people appear to associate the visually large with the auditorially loud." T. No. is a process that has for millennia turned to the animal world. infants and college coeds play with stuffed animals." before they can become subjects to themselves. They are nervous chickens one moment and ravenous beasts of prey the next. or idea to another is dependent in varying degree on conjoint experience. Put a rose side by side with a woman. calm. and nurturing power." "it") are inchoate unless they are predicated on some affective sign. the extension of an image or idea is a playful leap of the mind. 2 (1974). James Fernandez. Animal and human metaphors are cases in point. "The Mission of Metaphor in Expressive Culture. whether ideas have in fact played a role. In the exchanges of daily speech." A synesthete or a small child may well find this expression nonsensical. and Charles E. am I registering unreflectively a synesthetic event or does my experience depend o n the prior input of formulated ideas? I cannot be certain. they seem constitutive of human nature. "it is-simply a characteristic of the physical world that as a noise-producing object approaches or is approached. It can be difficult to tell.September for the most graphic kind of imagination. H e notes that the human sense of self is elusive. At one extreme we have the case of the individual who sees 1 6 Osgood. Odbert. already given. Such coupling can be the product of invariant experience rather than of some neurophysiological process. increases in visual angle are correlated with increases in events lo~dness. But this is clear: when I look at a landscape and see a reclining human female or mother figure. Even in our machine-dominated society.17 Between them lie intermediate cit."~~ynesthet ic of this kind occur without preparatory thought. At one end.. with all of the sensory analogies there suggested. a few fresh metaphors may emerge but most are shopworn. 15. image. this predication upon the pronoun. F. universal synesthetic tendencies also exist. but also as transcending ." Jozlrnal of General Psyclzology. Boys engage in "horse play. covers . p. footnote 12. when I look at a landscape and see peace. In fact. . We say of a lovely young woman that "she is a rose. the general tendency to associate frontal space with illuminated space and future time may be more explicitly acknowledged in some cultures than in others. and where is the resemblance? A rose is much closer in appearance and constitution to a cabbage than to a young human female. p. Strong synesthesia in an individual is a unique gift. For instance. some metaphor. the outreach from one sensation to another is an automatic physiological process made possible by an interlacing of nerve fibers. Vol. a person can seek to enrich and deepen the meaning of an image by marrying it to another: he attempts metaphorical thought. Pronouns must become objects by taking the point of view of "the other. Some metaphors are so old and univ&sally employed that." Fathers teasingly pretend to eat u p their the various colors of billiard balls when he hears numbers from one to fifteen. wherein the translation from one sensation. By mastering these roles they learn to see themselves as having the characteristics of these animals. yet such is the force of the metaphor that many people will find its coupling with the latter more natural. and individual talent." "he. Vol. culture. James Fernandez argues for their universality. a very wide range. this taking the other. Osgood. . Finally. As Osgood puts it. 11. they are the vehicles of meaning. 26 (1942). 17 "Learning states. piercing sound" as well is a synesthete. S. The Role of Form in Visual Responses to Music. on the other hand. H. "This becoming an object. of synesthesia as the result of conjoiit experience is the coupling of the visually large with the auditorially loud. UNIVERSAL METAPHORS It may be that strong synesthesia and metaphorical thinking are two ends of a continuum in human capacity. They are not the result of an active imagination." "you. An example. at the other. the metaphors in poetic language evoke not so much images as ideas: the images are not the meaning. "Mother earth" is a metaphor. For example. Culture operates at a more conscious level: it extends and elaborates a synesthetic disposition. . 215. however. "Studies in Synesthetic Thinking. imagination is at work."1s Children learn their identities by playing animal games. his capacity is inborn-a function of his neurological endowment. p. A person who looks at a fence and hears a "sharp.them." Current Anthropology. like certain kinds of widely shared synesthetic experience. 168. op.

Many such zoo-metaphors have long since lost their original power to stimulate. E. viewed since ancient times as antithetical ways of life. As we move on to thought. he proceeded to build on it a towering schema of correspondences harmonizing the components of the universe from the very small to the very large. The human mind is extraordinarily fertile. it is an aid to day-dreaming and to thought. It permits an extended excursion in analogic reasoning. no 2 2 T. A few are kept alive as part of a continuing tradition. Hulme." and then proceed to think explicitly and in detail in what ways society is. "Autumn." Quotation in Wheelwright. In moments of ambiguity or conflict. Richards.21 Using human beings or animals as predicates of nature is an ancient practice. for example. 1973). Like a red-faced farmer. METAPHOR AND SYMBOL Synesthesia provides a foundation for the development of metaphorical thought. T. the shoulder of a valley. soil is flesh. continue to appear. and then offer them piggyback rides. E. 74-75. of course. He wrote: 22 A touch of cold in the autumn night I walked abroad And saw the round moon lean over a hedge. p. for example. see T. and the metaphors of language derive therefrom. digging up the earth in the past aroused unease and called for ritual propitiations and sacrifice. p. in turn. the label will stick. McLuhan.. Although Western man does not look upon pebbles in a stream as "toes" (like the Dogon of West Africa). The association is strong enough so that to some nonagricultural American Indians it is sacrilege to tear up the grass for the purpose of planting crops. And round about were the wistful stars With white faces like town children. and is not. known in diverse cultures in widely different parts of the world.20 Even to some agricultural peoples. 94. He did not. 21Victor W. New metaphors. we feel more reassured if we can liken the opposing teams to hawks and doves. we both know that a precise accusation has been made and that. is explicit in its analogy: "wistful stars are like white-faced city children. and proceeds by comparison. Nature's Work of Art: The Human Body as Image of the World (New Haven: Yale University Press. The answer would seem to be yes. but nodded. . pp. Discursive and systematic thought rests. rest with the metaphor. Vol. we never become so confident of our identities as to escape altogether the need for animal metaphoric predications. in distinction to the metaphor. Hulme. however. 1975). the spine or brow of a ridge. ed. lyricism. and they may still affect the ways people treat nature. 1971). volcanic neck. likewise. the idea of rain impregnating the earth." The symbol goes beyond the simile. on the human ability to create metaphors. but the images they call forth have gone stale. We may well ask whether the moon and the stars can still inspire new anthropomorphic images. that is. Touch the Earth: A Self-Portrait of Indian Existence (New York: Outerbridge & Dienstfrey. A. "Symbols in African Ritual. op. his topographical vocabulary does contain anatomical metaphors: for example.19 "Sky father" and "earth mother" are old metaphors. Clearly. the tail of a drumlin. I did not stop to talk. footnote 7." I. 1 9 Fernandez. p. footnote 18." Science. simile.24To take a more current example. cit. Innovative conjunctions of ideas continue to emerge. seeing the earth as mother is not just a literary conceit. C. moreover. Turner. The Philosophy of Rhetoric (New York: Oxford University Press.. like an organism. the impact of the original affective sign or metaphor tends to lose its emotional power. A church. The simile. reach from one image or idea to another and perceive their joint Metaphor. pp. 1104. and the mouth of a river. was able to 122." We take: the next step and say that "society is like an organism. I say of a colleague that he is a jelly fish. op cit. 2"eonard Barkan. headland. It is an old and common habit of thought to see the earth in terms of human anatomy: rocks are bones. 23 "Thought is metaphoric. we may begin with the direct apprehension that "society is an organism. foothill.small children. As adults.. Although neither of us has seen a jelly fish. 179 (16 March. 20 For samples of American Indian evoke fresh images and ideas by linking the heavenly bodies of perduring human concern to the country and the city. and the plant cover the hairpiece of a cosmic being. 1936). and the full articulation of ideas form a continuum: one moves from the implicit to the explicit (Fig. 17-18. It is an abstracted affective sign that has lost its direct link with a human subject in a specific context. 1 ) . Plato accepted the microcosmic metaphor of his time-the idea that man's body is a likeness of the cosmos.

DESIGN IMPLICATIONS The categories of perception here sketched have implications for design: they suggest why designers can make successful plans. which the symbol allows and which the affective sign. . 1 ) . The epi- phoric function of landscape seems to have waned: we rarely respond to a landscape as to a numinous presence. We think and talk about it more. memorials and stone coffins of the illustrious departed. take the English landscape in the eighteenth century. for the church's teaching on the relationship between God and man. The strip as a whole and in its parts symbolize for them the least appealing sides of American life-its vulgar thrust for quick success. The commercial strip of new and rapidly expanding American towns provides. One duty of the planner is to ensure 25 We articulate our feelings and ideas far more than do people in traditional societies. Consider how one might experience the interior of an old cathedral in a Latin country. being direct and implicit in its effect. 27 Raymond Williams. there are flickering candle lights. 2 V h e harmony and loveliness of the English countryside are a result of this momentary balance. On the other hand. "Analysis of Ritual: Metaphoric Correspondences as the Elementary Forms. Fernandez. a contrary example. they choose not to respond to the lights and colors as affective signs-metaphors of dynamism and vitality. are often deprecatory. the feeling inside the church is not morbidness but hope. A Land (London: Cresset Press. a sense of thrusting power against the darkness and gloom of the surrounding countryside. however. Bright illumination and colors are affective signs that evoke cheer. in fact. Signs may be clear or ambiguous. The Country and the C i t y (New York: Oxford University Press. Children appreciate the lights and so did teen-aged youngsters who used to drive their resuscitated vehicles up and down the strip." Landscape is epiphoric insofar as it is a vehicle for something more important and less tangible than itself such as divine presence. it depends on the habit of responding to environmental signs in an appropriate manner.27The point of the illustration is two-fold. p. blood-covered effigies of the dying Christ. facilitating action in the one case and handicapping it in the other. 143." We have seen that it is a diaphor in the sense that it combines and synthesizes two dissimilar ideas-"domain" and "scenery. A particular scene can thus serve as a symbol for the idea of ecological health. Yet. Sophisticated adults. One is the consciousness of choice. this seemingly fragile web of articulated ideas can overcome the impact of affective signs that work directly on the senses. it can acquire more explicit connotations and become a symbol. We may. for whom the gross disproportion in scale between the cottage and the mansion is a symbol of social injustice in eighteenth-century England. however. 1973). women in black. Designing for other people is feasible because human behavior." Science. 1951). 106. 2"acquetta Hawkes. The difference between the affective sign or metaphor on the one hand and the symbol on the other is one of degree: the symbol carries a greater proportion of articulable ideas. its insensitivity to established values. like that of other animals. choose to see the same landscape through the eyes of Raymond Williams. The strip is brightly lit at night. instead they interpret the appearances symbolically. 1366. From a numinous presence it becomes a symbol for the Christian doctrine of salvation. The language of signs is explicit and leaves no doubt in the motorist's mind as to where he can stop to refuel and to eat. its blatancy and crassness. does not.370 YI-Fu TUAN September longer commands awe." James W. They are all affective signs of woe and death. p. in a sense. They forget the convenience of the signs which tell them what to do.23 As an illustration of multiple symbolic meanings. But to someone who is aware of Christian symbolism and has profound sympathy for the story it tells. We may now choose to see it through the eyes of Jacquetta Hawkes. for whom it is a moment when a precarious balance was achieved between the shifting forces of nature and of m a n . Vol. Landscape may lose its affective and metaphoric power and become a mere unit of space. shows that it is usually quite difficult to obtain the significata of symbols. p. Empirical research. The other is the possibility of using the landscape as a material symbol around which ideas concerning ecological health or social injustice can accrue. But the symbolic meaning of landscape has increased. "While exegesis of anything and everything is the order of the day in university culture. it is much rarer in traditional cultures. It is dark and musty. 182 (28 December. and also why plans often fail (Fig. is routinized. 1973). Consider "landscape.

Vol. Just as a writer can stimulate the reader with a new literary conceit. "Complexity and Ambiguity in Environmental Design. 210-21. A fresh metaphor may cause incomprehension rather than enlightenment. Synesthesia and the root metaphors of a culture give stability to a people's emotions and thought so that they are. 1966). for example. A designer knows that a certain stimulus will evoke a certain feeling and even a rudimentary idea. Cornplexi~ and Contradiction in Architecture (New York: The Museum of Modem Art.that the signs achieve maximum clarity. Innovation even at the humblest level risks failure. Even within the shared culture of a family. We can all think of a pedestrian mall. but it ultimately must embrace human discourse. in real life the context is given: it is whatever concrete situation we happen to find ourselves in. have the power of speech. Red color is "warm" and "active. discursive thought-increasingly prominent in modern society-can deeply affect our perception so that a landscape formerly admired for its harmonious lines and ecological health may now symbolize social injustice and economic exploitation. a residential area. Thus architects should plan office buildings so that people can find their way from one bureau to the next without the endowment of a sixth sense." .g. with mere words he is able to conjure "life" out of a pile of stones. At nightfall. Kantor. however." But an imaginative designer can do much more than the following of such simple rules. or that he has a razor-sharp mind. as I climb into the car in preparation for the long drive along the coast of New Jersey. or a reconstructed urban center that has succeeded far beyond the utilitarian functions it primarily serves.28 We have moved from signs that trigger standard behavior to what approximates a discourse between the imaginative designer and his responsive-imaginative client. and vice versa. so a planner or architect can stimulate his client with a new architectural or spatial conceit: he might. juxtapose two dissimilar elements or deliberately introduce ambiguity in his design so that a client is challenged to perceive his environment anew. There are rules that govern affective and imaginative responses. and its image suffers. People whisper in our ears that so-and-so is a jelly fish. our view of a particular individual is altered. Planning for human beings can often be objective. the traffic signal) may be read as affective signs or symbols. a friend says: "By the way. pp. for instance. and highway engineers might be able to design a route system such that motorists can drive from one city to another with minimal mental and emotional stress. however slightly: he becomes a more vivid personality-someone for us to despise or admire. Objects intended as signs (e." Journal of the American Institute of Planners. accidentally beheaded on his job. 33 (1967). Unlike the professional writer. words have surprising influence even if they are not used in any strikingly original way. to a degree. who has to conjure with words an image of the context where talk occurs. Differences in individual personality and of culture. And here we encounter fundamental difficulties in design. The reason why one can plan such environments is that a "grammar" of affective signs exists. folks here believe that the marsh flame you will see from the turnpike is the lantern of a railroad man. All human beings." verticality and solidity evoke a sense of "demand. including the use and appreciation of language. member cannot be sure that his pun or practical joke will produce the desired effect. Given a real locale. a 28 Robert Venturi. We all can and do make the world around us more present and vivid by giving utterance on appropriate occasions and in suitable settings. searching for his head. can detract or enhance the reputation of a neighbor.. A casual metaphor. Clearly this power of speech applies not only to people but also to aspects of our material environment." I say slyly of a proud businessman's mansion. Thenceforth. There exist no rules that guarantee successful human discourse. We well know that a deftly told ghost story can radically alter a man's perception of the lonely road. "A gingerbread house. are not readily overcome. an architectural conceit may baffle and distress rather than stimulate and refresh. predictable. for reasons already given. SPEECH AND REALITY A talented writer can evoke the mood and personality of a place. Moreover. Amos Rapoport and Robert E. Planning an environment that affects our emotions and stirs our imagination is also possible.

Nor is it merely a stable attribute that can be elicited through the use of restrictive questionnaires.372 CODA YI-FU TUAN September The world of competence and habit consists of signs that do not command focused interest. in a nutshell. create and recreate their multifaceted and kaleidoscopic worlds. Such approaches have evident value. However. As the result of attaching an elaborate ghost story to the flame. This. but they must be supplemented by studying a people's speech as it appears naturally in the course of day-to-day living and on more dramatic occasions. A task for humanist geographers is to understand better how localities and environments come to be imbued with feeling and thought. From time to time. Humanist geographers want to know how a people. a particular object-such as the marsh flame in the dark night-catches my attention and evokes a mood. and not as mere signs? How are the symbols maintained by ceremonial acts and discursive speech? What themes tend to dominate the inhabitants' conversation? What are their favorite metaphors? The felt quality of a place can never be fully revealed by describing the physical structures and noting the ways people move in them. Driving along the highway I must be able to interpret them correctly with a minimum of conscious effort. a feeling. . Given a setting we ask: what are its affective signs and symbols? Under what cir- cumstances do the affective signs function as such. occasionally vivid. Even commonplace words have power if they are uttered in the ongoing situations of life. not only through imaginative action but also through enlivening speech. the marsh flame can generate more than just a passing mood or idea. and not extracted by formal survey. or a rudimentary idea. It is then an affective sign. Words serve to maintain routine and also to shatter it. an affective sign becomes a powerful symbol able to create an eerie scene in the mind's eye of anyone who has heard the story. is the felt quality of our environment-mostly gray and unseen.

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