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Journal of Pragmatics 26 (1996) 809-822

A note on film metaphor

NoEl Carroll
Department of Philosophy, University of Wisconsin, 5185 Helen C. White Hall, 600 North Park Street, Madison, 141153706-1475, USA

This paper is an attempt to identify a straightforward case of metaphor in film, to argue why it should be counted as a case of metaphor and to elucidate its structure.

The purpose of this note is to propose a theory of what I take to be the most straightforward type of film metaphor. What has provoked me to compose such a theory is the fact that in his recent, excellent study - Metaphor and Film - Trevor Whittock (1990) advances a series of useful analyses of a whole battery of cinematic tropes, none of which, oddly enough, is the most obvious and clearcut example of filmic metaphor. Moreover, an examination of the relevant literature convinces me that the structure that I think is the best candidate for the title of film metaphor has not been identified as such by theorists of the relation of metaphor and film) Consequently, this paper will attempt to construct a case for a central type of film metaphor, one which heretofore has been untheorized. It is probably useless to haggle over the term 'metaphor'. It has been used to describe a wide range of phenomena in film. Thus, I shall not claim that other theorists are wrong in their applications of the term nor that my usage is the only correct one. Instead, I will simply claim that what I am calling film metaphor is a central case - if not the most central case - of film metaphor, as well as the case which has the most compelling credentials for the title. What is the type of metaphor that I have in mind? Let some famous examples initiate the conversation. In the third scene of Fritz Lang's silent film Metropolis we see a huge machine through the point-of-view of the son of the ruler of Metropolis. There are two enormous turbines at the foot of the machine and an awesome stairway, rising between rows of work stations, leads up to an open space dominated by some sort of pumping levers. The machine explodes and the scene is swathed in smoke; as it clears, we not only see maimed workers but - again through a point-of-view shot - we see the machine

The literature that I have in mind includes: Clifton (1983), Gianetti (1972), Pryluck (1975, 1976). 0378-2166/96/$15.00 Copyright 1996 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved PH S0378-2166(96)00021-5


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transformed into the monster Moloch. Via superimposition, the stairs become M o l o c h ' s tongue, while the space at the top o f the stairs is M o l o c h ' s mouth and throat. In one shot, the turbines are replaced by M o l o c h ' s paws, though in subsequent shots we see the turbines as turbines, suggesting, perhaps, modernist versions o f outsized votive candles. The machine, or at least parts o f it, have been transformed into parts o f a monster, Moloch. Nevertheless, the machine is still recognizable as a machine. The monster elements and the machine elements are co-present - or homospatial - in the same figure. Moreover, the co-present monster elements and machine elements interanimate in such a way that we grasp the point o f the image to be: that the machine is Moloch, or, more broadly, that such m o d e m factory machines are man-eating monsters. That is, we take the m o d e m factory machine to be the target domain in the structure, and M o l o c h (or man-eating monster) to be the source domain in the structure, and then we selectively map aspects o f what we know about the source domain onto the target domain - or, more colloquially, we see m o d e m machinery as maneatersfl Or, yet once more, we use what we know o f man-eating monsters - that they devour people - to selectively focus our understanding o f m o d e m machinery. Further, famous examples of this structure in film include Vertrov's superimposition in Man with a Movie Camera o f the eye over the camera lens - thereby propounding the metaphor that the eye is a camera (or that the eye should be a camera); 3 and Eisenstein's suggestion in Strike, through gradual dissolves, wipes and superimposition, that one o f the spies is a m o n k e y and that another is a fox. In Man with a Movie Camera, the point is that what we know (or, what Vertov thought we knew) o f the camera (or cinema) - that it is the microscope and telescope o f time serves as the source domain through which we filter our understanding of what the human eye (or consciousness) either is now or (more likely) is to be - viz., that which is temporally transcendent; while in the case o f Strike, Eisenstein proposes that one o f the spies is a m o n k e y and that another is a fox, thereby encouraging us to apply what we know o f the source domains - monkeys, foxes and their associated commonplaces - to focus and filter our understanding o f the objects in the target domain - the two spies, respectively. 4 T h o u g h the examples cited so far have all involved superimposition, the structure under discussion can be contrived by other means. Think o f all those Popeye cartoons where after Popeye eats his spinach, the fact that he has regained his strength is signalled by images where his biceps b e c o m e an anvil or his fist becomes a ham2 For a discussion of the distinction between source domains and target domains, see Lakoff and Turner (1989: 38). This image is recognized by Clifton, but he categorizes it as "inclusion:superimposition" (1983: 160). He does not count it as a metaphor, probably because it does not have to be 'completed' by the spectator (1983: 87-88). Nor does he recognize the image of the pistons superimposed over men stoking furnaces from John Grierson's Drifters as a metaphor; it also counts as inclusion:superimposition. The notions of focusing and filtering above are adapted from Max Black's classic article 'Metaphor' (1954-55). 4 I have added the qualifier generally above since some commentators have argued that some metaphors are literally true. One example that has been proposed is 'Business is business'.

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mer. Clearly these are metaphors. His muscles are an anvil; his fist a hammer. In both cases, the source domains suggest that we selectively reconceive Popeye's muscle and his fist to be incredibly hard; or, to put the matter more technically, we map an attribute on the source domain - the hardness of anvils or that of hammers - onto the target domain - Popeye's muscle or his fist. Likewise, make-up can also be used to provoke this variety of metaphorical comprehension. For example, if you believe that the relevant scenes in David Cronenberg's Videodrome are hallucinations, then the scene in which the character played by James Woods has a video cassette inserted in his body propounds the metaphor that people are video cassette players. However ungainly this metaphor sounds in spoken language it is nevertheless appropriate in the film Videodrome where it is an element of an overarching theme that insinuates that modern societies are being programmed by TV. In effect, Cronenberg's visual metaphor says "people nowadays are no better than video recorders, their minds being video tapes produced elsewhere". Furthermore, there are techniques beyond superimposition, drawing and make-up including video-image processing, computer generated imaging, set design, costuming and so on - which facilitate the production of the sort of film metaphors exemplified above, For what the previous cases have in common is that they are all composite figures - machine/monster, eye/camera, fist/hammer, person/video-player - and one can construct composite figures by means of an indeterminate number of techniques. But what is it about such composite figures that leads us to call them metaphors? To state my case succinctly: first, verbal metaphors are most frequently advanced by grammatical structures that propose identity relations - such as the 'is' of identity or, apposition - and the film metaphors I have introduced likewise depend upon visual devices that portend identity - viz., what I have already called 'homospatiality'. Second, verbal metaphors generally turn out to be false when taken literally, whereas what I am calling film metaphors have an analogous property, viz., physical noncompossibility. 5 That is, it is not physically compossible with the universe as we know it that muscles be anvils, that people be cassette recorders or that spies be foxes. To expand: just as verbal metaphors most often signal some sort of identity between the objects they relate or some intersection between the categories they mobilize - e.g., ' m a n is a wolf unto m a n ' - the relevant composite images in film deploy homospatiality to suggest identity; disparate elements (calling to mind disparate categories) are visually incorporated or amalgamated into one, spatially bounded, homogeneous entity. Elements are fused in a composite, but nevertheless self-identifiable construct, thereby visually indicating that these elements are ele-

5 Note that the requirement here is that the physically noncompossible or disparate elements be literally co-present in the same object. This is to exclude certain cases that people may be tempted to call film metaphors, like the famous boot sequence in Chaplin's The Gold Rush. Due to Chaplin's miming, one may be inclined to entertain the thought that Chaplin's shoe laces are spaghetti. However, since the lace elements and the spaghetti elements of the image are not literally co-present in the object, the image is not strictly the sort of metaphor that I am talking about. For no spaghetti elements are ever actually fused with shoe lace elements.


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ments of the self-same entity. 6 Verbal metaphor proposes identity by means of various grammatical devices. Film metaphor rides on the proposal of identity as well by means of homospatiality which, in turn, may be secured by an indeterminate number of devices, cinematic (e.g., superimposition) and otherwise (e.g., make-up). The elements in such metaphors are features of the self-same entity in virtue of inhabiting the same space-time co-ordinates - in virtue of inhabiting the same body - i.e., being within the same continuous contour, or perimeter or boundary. The elements in the visual metaphor - machine parts and monster parts - are fused or superimposed or otherwise attached as parts of a recognizably integrated or unified entity. Homospatiality is a necessary condition for the type of film metaphor about which I am talking. Homospatiality provides the means to link disparate categories in visual metaphors in ways that are functionally equivalent to the ways that disparate categories are linked grammatically in verbal metaphors. Where verbal metaphors appear to assert identity between distinct, nonconverging objects and/or categories, visual metaphors, 7 of which film metaphors are a subclass, suggest categorical identity by presenting nonconverging categories as instantiated in the same entity. Indeed, it is the way in which homospatiality plays the role as a visual equivalent to the appearance of asserted identity in verbal metaphors that supplies us with one of our reasons for speaking of certain kinds of film image - such as machine/Moloch as film metaphors. Through homospatiality a figure is presented that is a recognizably unified entity, but, nevertheless, in film metaphors certain of the elements that comprise the structure come from discernibly disparate categories - in fact, categories that are not physically compossible in the same entity. A human arm could not support that big hammer that has become Popeye's fist. You can't replace a camera lens with a human eye and get a working anything. Moreover, there is a consensus among researchers in the field that, generally, verbal metaphors are either false or not literally true. Film metaphors, of course, cannot be false or literally not true because they are not propositions. However, our film metaphors do possess a feature that roughly corresponds to falsity or apparent falsity. Namely, through homospatiality, our film metaphors identify disparate objects and/or link disparate categories that are not physically compossible, in terms of what we know about the universe, in the sorts of entities thereby concocted. While verbal metaphors are generally marked by falsity or apparent falsity, film metaphors represent homospatial entities comprised of features that are not generally physically compossible. In addition to homospatiality, the physical noncompossibility of the elements in the putatively unified figure is also a necessary condition for film metaphors of the

6 Of course, there is a relation between Chaplin's miming and what I call visual metaphors. In both cases, two or more objects are 'superimposed'; but in visual metaphor the fusion is literal, whereas in the Chaplin case, it is not. Rather than calling the Chaplin case one of visual metaphor, I prefer to call it a case of mimed metaphor. For an analysis of mimed metaphor, see Carroll (1991). 7 I present my theory of visual metaphors, of which the theory of film metaphor in this article is an application, in Carroll (1994).

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sort that I am isolating. And, of course, the analogy between the falsity or apparent falsity of verbal metaphors, and the physical noncompossibility of the elements of the kind of film metaphors I am talking about provide me with another important reason to call these filmic figures metaphors. Indeed, it is in virtue of these close structural affinities between images of the machine/Moloch variety and linguistic metaphors that I am led to claim that these images have the most compelling claim to the title of film metaphor. With verbal metaphor the palpable falsity or apparent falsity of the putative assertion, among other things, encourages the listener to reassess it in order to make it relevant to the rest of a conversation. One strategy is to take the utterance as a way of getting the listener to use it as an opportunity to rethink the target domain - to focus and filter it - in light of a source domain. Or, to put the matter more directly: confronted with an obviously false statement the listener searches for some other significance that it might have - such as metaphorical or ironical significance - in accordance with Gricean-type principles of co-operation in conversation. 8 Similarly, since the homospatially linked elements in film metaphors are physically noncompossible, the spectator of such a symbol explores alternative strategies to render the image intelligible, apart from relying on the laws of physical possibility. In the cases at hand, I conjecture that the spectator entertains the alternative that the physically noncompossible elements in the filmic array refer to the categories to which they belong and that those disparate, nonconvergent categories (or, to be more exact, members thereof) have been fused or connected in a way that defies physical possibility, not in order to represent a state of affairs in the world of the fiction, but to interanimate the categories the image brings to mind. That is, the viewer or, at least, the ideal viewer considers the possibility that the categories in question have been introduced in order for her to focus on aspects of one of the categories in terms of aspects of the other category. And when doing this is rewarding i.e., when an intelligible correspondence obtains - the viewer regards the filmic array metaphorically. The physical noncompossibility of the homospatially fused but disparate elements in the visual array entices the ideal viewer to comprehend the image not as a portrayal of some physically possible state of affairs, but as an opportunity to regard one of the categories as providing a source domain for apprehending something about the other category, the target; or as an opportunity for regarding each of the categories as mutually informative (as alternatively the source and the target domain for each other). And, of course, it is the ease with which the composite, homospatial, physically noncompossible film examples discussed previously can be assimilated into the model of metaphor as a mapping from source domain to target domain that provides me with yet another reason for calling these images film metaphors. Given the way in which the play between physical possibility and physical noncompossibility figures in the communication of film images, I suspect that film metaphors must be what I call visual images - i.e., intentionally made, human arte-

8 This notion is adapted from Grice (1975). See also Bendix (1971).


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facts of the sort whose reference (or putative reference) is recognized simply by looking, rather than by some process of reading, decoding or the like. Watching Moby Dick, the spectator looks at the screen and recognizes that a whale is represented; the spectator looks at the top of the whale and recognizes that the whale has been jabbed with harpoons. Visual images, needless to say, are symbols. But they are a special type of symbols insofar as their comprehension does not require codes nor could there be anything like a dictionary which would enable one to decipher or read such images. Rather, the audience looks at the screen and recognizes that which the images represent - at least whenever the spectator is capable of recognizing the referents of the image in what might be called standard perception (i.e., perception not mediated by coded symbols). Because film metaphors are visual images, the audience is initially geared to taking the putative referent of the image to be some physically possible thing or state of affairs. Encountering something that is physically noncompossible instead, the spectator is encouraged to search for or to explore some other way in which the symbol before her may be taken in order to make sense. And this leads her to test various metaphorical interpretations of the array. So far, I have argued that a film metaphor is a visual image in which physically noncompossible elements co-habitate a homospatially unified figure which, in turn, encourages viewers to explore mappings between the relevant constituent elements and/or the categories or concepts to which the constituent elements allude. Nevertheless, more is required than these features, if we hope to identify a film image as a film metaphor. A film metaphor is a visual image. This means that the figure as a whole is recognizable perceptually - recognizable by looking - and that the elements that the spectator uses in her metaphorical interpretations must be recognizable perceptually as well. But, obviously, in order to grasp a film metaphor, the spectator must not only be able to recognize the relevant elements; her attention must also be drawn to them. The relevant elements must stand out; they must be visually salient; they must be prominent. Of course, we cannot theoretically predict all the ways in which filmmakers may secure salience. But we can argue theoretically that in order for a film metaphor to be identified by a spectator, all things being equal, the film metaphor and its pertinent elements must be salient. These elements are parts of homospatially unified figures. But these spatially bounded wholes strike the spectator as anomalous, since certain of the saliently posed elements in the homospatial array defy our conception of physical possibility. A man cannot have an anvil embedded in a working arm; he could not move his hand, if he did. However, in determining whether the elements in the image are physically noncompossible, the spectator cannot rely simply on what the image in isolation shows and on what she knows about science and the world. She must also consider the context in which the image figures as well as the likely intentions of the filmmaker in presenting the image. The reason that the spectator has to consider the filmic context and the filmmaker's likely intentions is that there are homospatial figures in film with apparently

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physically noncompossible elements that are saliently posed which are patently not film metaphors. For instance, in horror films there are many examples of creatures that are physically noncompossible - like the animal/vegetable in P u m p k i n h e a d or the insect/human in The Fly - but, given the narrative context and the genre of the film, along with the evident intentions of the filmmaker, the spectator does not count these composite figures as metaphors. For given the narrative context of the film and the genre, such composite figures are compossible entities in what might be called the world of the fiction, or the world intended by the narrator. We can imagine the machine/Moloch figure as a denizen in a fictional context in which it is, by dint of science fiction, a fleshy robot out to conquer the world. In that context, the viewer would take the image as intended to be physically compossible in the world of the fiction. Consequently, if the audience is to interpret a figure like machine/Moloch metaphorically, the audience must at least have grounds for believing that the filmmaker is presenting something that she intends to be taken as physically noncompossible and not as some physically possible entity in a fantastic, fictional world, ruled by physical laws at variance with our own. In order to explore a composite entity like machine/Moloch for metaphorical insight, the spectator must have reason to suspect that she is confronting a physically noncompossible entity, not one that is physically possible fictionally. Needless to say, an apparently physically noncompossible entity may be introduced to serve intentions other than fiction making. A composite entity might be religiously motivated. Perhaps a devotional, Christian film presents us with the figure of Satan as part man and part goat. Here, though goat men are physically noncompossible, we will not interpret the image as a film metaphor if we suspect that some fundamentalist, Christian filmmaker is portraying the devil in the way that his religion maintains that one correctly conceives the look of the devil. That is, our hypothesis that the filmmaker does not intend to present us with a physically noncompossible entity, but one that his religion avows is physically compossible with higher truths than are available to our sciences, restrains our metaphorical exploration of the image. A film metaphor rests on the shared recognition on the part of the filmmaker and the pertinent spectators that the disparate elements fused in the homospatially unified entity on the screen are physically noncompossible. In order to ascertain whether the homospatially fused image on the screen is to be taken as representing a physically noncompossible state, several crucial conditions must be in place. First, the filmmaker must believe that the film image represents a physically noncompossible object or state of affairs and, also, the filmmaker must expect that in presenting her image, she is producing the representation of something that is physically noncompossible, rather than something that is physically possible, religiously actual, fictionally possible, and so on. And furthermore, if the filmmaker intends her image to be taken metaphorically, she must believe, as well, that the standard, intended spectator also believes that the image represents a physically noncompossible state of affairs. Moreover, it probably goes without saying that for a film metaphor to succeed for it to secure uptake - the standard intended spectator will in fact believe that the


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state of affairs or object represented by the visual array is physically noncompossible and that it is intended to be taken as physically noncompossible, rather than as a representation of some supernatural actuality or as a state of affairs that obtains in the context of some fiction which abides by some laws alternative to those found in the universe as we know it. Thus, if a spectator takes the image of machine/Moloch to be a film metaphor, she must believe that the filmmaker believes that machine/ Moloch is a physically noncompossible entity and that the filmmaker is presenting machine/Moloch as physically noncompossible and not as some existing monster, some sci-fi monster, nor as some god nor demigod. If the filmmaker intends a film metaphor, then the filmmaker believes that her juxtaposition of physically noncompossible elements in a homospatially unified array will serve as an invitation to the view to explore the ways in which the noncompossible elements and their corresponding categories illuminate each other when they are interpreted as source domains and target domains that are related by mappings onto each other. That is, the filmmaker must intend that the homospatially unified figure and its noncompossible elements have what Ina Lowenberg calls heuristic value .9 The filmmaker, is other words, intends the spectator to take the image as a proposal to consider the referents of the noncompossible elements and their related categories as interacting in an illuminating way. In creating the image, the filmmaker expects that the juxtaposition of elements will insinuate a relation or comparison or fact and will beckon or prompt the audience to notice or focus upon that relation or comparison or fact. The film metaphor has heuristic value in the sense that it facilitates the spectator's apprehension of the putative relation, or comparison or fact. In creating a film metaphor, the filmmaker believes that her image has heuristic value. This does not mean that the image maker antecedently knows all of the discoveries that spectators may make in the process of exploring the image. Indeed, audiences may find more connections between the elements in the film image than the filmmaker imagined, just as in the case of linguistic metaphors, there may be an indefinite number of resonances that no reader, including the author, ever fully appreciates. The filmmaker invites the spectator to make these discoveries by saliently posing physically noncompossible elements. The juxtaposition of physically noncompossible elements prods the spectator to attempt to make the image - as a communicative act - intelligible. Though recognizable perceptually, the relevant film image cannot be taken to be a realistic representation. Thus, on the presupposition that the image has been proffered for the sake of making some point, the spectator will try to comprehend it by means of another sort of interpretation. In film metaphors, the saliently posed juxtaposition of the noncompossible elements, along with something like conversational principles of charity, give the spectator reason to explore the image in order to see whether it affords metaphorical insight. 9 See Lowenberg (1981:175-176). Let me acknowledgethat this section on the identifyingconditions for film metaphor has been enormously influencedby Ina Lowenberg's account of the identificationof linguistic metaphor.

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Though the filmmaker guides the exploration of the image in many respects, the invitation that she extends to the spectator is a fairly open one. The audience expands the metaphor through its own interpretive play. The spectator tests to see whether the metaphor is only to be expanded in terms of the referents of the noncompossible elements in the figure or in terms of the categories or concepts to which the noncompossible elements belong. And, as is the case in verbal metaphor, the audience explores what Lakoff and Turner call the various 'slots' of the source domain schema to see if they have any bearing on the target domain. Moreover, where the slots 'click', the spectator is apt to derive heuristic value. Summarizing our theory of film metaphor then, I contend that a filmmaker successfully presents a film metaphor if and only if (1) she makes a visual image in which (2) at least two physically noncompossible elements are (3) saliently posed in (4) a homospatially unified figure; (5) the filmmaker believes that what the figure represents is physically noncompossible and presents it as being physically noncompossible; (6) the filmmaker believes that the typical, intended spectator will believe that the figure is physically noncompossible; (7) the typical, intended spectator does believe that it is physically noncompossible; (8) the typical, intended spectator also believes that the filmmaker believes that the image is physically noncompossible; (9) the filmmaker believes that posing the noncompossible elements saliently in a homospatially unified figure has heuristic value in terms of potential mappings of the referents of the elements and/or their related categories onto each other; (10) the filmmaker intends the spectator to take the image as an invitation to consider the referents of the physically noncompossible elements and/or their related categories in terms of their heuristic value and the filmmaker also intends the spectator to realize that she, the filmmaker, intends this; (11) the spectator believes that the filmmaker intends her to take the image as an invitation to consider the referents of the physically noncompossible elements and their related categories in terms of mapping onto each other. Composite figures that meet all these conditions can be successfully identified as film metaphors. In my view this variety of filmic metaphor has the best claim to the title of film metaphor because, as I hope I have shown, it bears extremely close structural affinities to linguistic metaphor. For example, it is closer structurally to linguistic metaphor than the juxtaposition of two shots of similar objects for the sake of comparison, since such cinematic juxtapositions carry no suggestion of an identity relation, whereas linguistic metaphors and what I call homospatially fused film metaphors do. Thus, I surmise that the sorts of filmic figures that I have been writing about represent a central case of film metaphor or what I would hazard to call strict filmic metaphor or core filmic metaphor.l

10 In an earlier paper, I identified a phenomenon that I referred to as verbal imagery - film images predicated upon encouraging the viewer to think of the action in terms of linguistic phrases, often commonplace phrases. For example, in my Popeye example, the audience may think of the image in terms of commonplacephrases like 'fists of steel'. Obviouslysome film metaphors can be verbal images in the sense developed in my earlier paper, viz., those visual metaphors that rely on homospatialityand that, at the same time, illustrate commonplace metaphors. On the other hand, verbal images that illustrate


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Upon hearing me christening what I'd like to call strict film metaphor, some may be perplexed, because they believe that they have reason to suspect that there can be no such thing as film metaphor, whether strict or otherwise. Thus, insofar as such prejudices are common, let me conclude by discussing the most likely objections to the proposition that there are film metaphors (of which strict film metaphors are the most central case). There seem to be three main objections to the existence of film metaphors: (1) the concreteness objection, (2) the asymmetry objection, and (3) the essentialist objection. Let me deal with each of these in turn. (1) The concreteness objection. II This argument begins with the presupposition that the film image is always concrete in the sense that it is always the representation of a particular. However, it is then noted that metaphors require abstraction insofar as metaphors interanimate the relations between classes or categories. Thus, the argument continues, metaphors supposedly require that audiences free themselves from the apprehension of particulars and play imaginatively with categories. For example, in the metaphor 'death is deep sleep', one is invited to map generic features of the source domain, deep sleep, onto deaths in general. Therefore, inasmuch as film images are concrete and particular, film images are incapable of serving as vehicles for metaphors which, by their very nature, are abstract. But clearly, the presumption that metaphors are abstract, in the sense in which it is presupposed in this argument, is absolutely false. Many linguistic metaphors refer to particulars. For example, one insider trader may say admiringly of another 'When it comes to corporate takeovers, Jones is Attila the Hun'. This is a perfectly unproblematic instance of metaphor, but note that both its target figure and its source figure are particulars. Nor is this feature only evident in invented examples. When Americans say that 'George Washington is the father of our country', they are referring to particulars as does Romeo when he identifies Juliet with the only and only Sun. In addition, the second presupposition of the concreteness argument is also false. Though every film image may be an image of a particular in the sense that (putting to one side the complexities of chemical and electronic processing) it is an image of a particular object, it is false that every film image refers to particulars. The image of a Ford motorcar in an advertisement does not refer to that particular Ford motorcar, but to Ford motorcars, or to some class of Ford motorcars in general. Thus the second presupposition of the concreteness argument is false, along with the first, and, moreover, given that the premises of the argument are so flawed, the concreteness objection has little to recommend it. Of course, a friend of the concreteness argument might claim that I have misinterpreted it. The argument, it may be said, concerns psychology. The idea is that

commonplacemetaphors, but not by means of homospatiality,will not count as film metaphors. And, of course, many verbal images have nothing to do with metaphor because the linguistic idioms, phrases or sayings that they evoke do not involve metaphor. For an analysis of verbal images, see Carroll (1980-1981). Jl Thisposition is often attributed to Kracauer (1960). The argument is discussed in the already cited texts by Pryluck (1975, 1976), Giannetti (1972), and Whittock (19~i0).

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metaphor requires abstract thinking in terms of the interanimation of categories, but the particularlity of film images blocks abstract thinking by keeping the spectator mired in the perception of particularity. This may not be a totally unreasonable piece of armchair psychology. But I see no compelling grounds for accepting it. For I have already conjectured a rival hypothesis. I have argued that there is some mechanism in certain film images that prompts the audience to abandon their attempt to regard the image as a representation of a particular and to attempt to reinterpret it in terms of the interaction of categories. I claim that the physical noncompossibility of the disparate elements that have been fused homospatially invites and even prompts the spectator to find a way to assimilate the image as something other than the representation of a particular. I take it that this scenario is at least plausible. Therefore, unless some flaw can be found with my hypothesis, the burden of proof lies with the skeptic to show that film imagery thwarts abstract, metaphorical thinking. (2) The asymmetry objection. Linguistic metaphors are unidirectional. When I say of a past king of England that 'Richard is a lion', putatively I am saying something about Richard and nothing about any lions. I am not, for example, saying that some lion is Richard or even that some or every lion is like Richard. On the other hand, film images have no resources for fixing directionality. The genuine metaphors that we know from language are asymmetrical; they cannot be flipped. 'Juliet is the Sun' cannot be reversed as 'The Sun is Juliet'. Film images have no way of guaranteeing unidirectionality. Putative film metaphors can be flipped - Vertov's 'The eye is a camera' might just as easily be comprehended as 'The camera is an eye'. Therefore, since it is premised that genuine metaphors have unidirectionality or asymmetry as an essential feature, and our putative film metaphors do not, then our candidate is surely not an authentic metaphor (nor are all the other film candidates, all of which also fail the unidirectionality test). Of course, it is at least controversial whether all linguistic metaphors are unidirectional or not. If we take metaphors to be abbreviated similes, as Aristotle did, then there would appear to be the potential to flip all metaphors, for if 'this book is garbage' is really an abbreviated way of saying 'this book is like garbage' then the saying might also suggest 'garbage is like this book'. But, of course, in response the asymmetry theorist may maintain that this is a reason to deny that metaphors are abbreviated similes. Nevertheless, might it not at least be plausible to read some metaphors as bidirectional? If I say 'See the winter in his beard', I am asking you to see his old age in light of winter, and its associated commonplaces, but isn't it also the case that the statement may intelligibly guide you to recall that winter is the oldest, final stage of the year? We think of lives in terms of seasons in part because we think of years in terms of lives. Thus, I would find it unsurprising that one metaphor might draw our musings in both directions. And finally, if 'business is business' is a metaphor, then the asymmetry claim does not look completely universal. The friend of unidirectionality not only assumes that all linguistic metaphors are asymmetrical, but also that none of our film metaphors are. But this doesn't seem


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right. Given the context of Metropolis, 'the machine is Moloch' or 'the machine is a living monster' seems correct, but 'Moloch is a machine' or 'The monster is a machine' seems an unlikely metaphorical communication. This is not because 'Moloch is a machine' could not possibly be a metaphor; if someone says that their spouse is a machine, that is an acceptable, if unfortunate metaphor. But 'Moloch is a machine' is not the operative metaphor in Metropolis because it doesn't make much sense given the overall film, while 'the machine is Moloch', given the Luddite anim u s of the rest of the fiction, fits perfectly in context. Moreover, this is analogous to the linguistic case. If we do not read 'Richard, the Lion' as 'The lion is Richard' or 'the lion is like Richard' but as 'Richard is a lion' or 'Richard is like a lion' that is probably because in the relevant contexts this reading makes the most sense. If we are talking about King Richard, then it is more intelligible to think of the phrase in terms of Richard, the lionlike, rather than Lion, the Richardlike. But, in any case, if some of the examples that I contend are strict film metaphors are asymmetrical - such as 'the machine is Moloch' - then there are some film metaphors, even strict film metaphors. Furthermore, another strategy for dealing with the unidirectionality argument might be to say that even if most linguistic metaphors are asymmetrical, this might not be an essential feature of film metaphors. Perhaps Vertov's imagery leads us to think of cameras as eyes and of eyes as cameras. Maybe film metaphors always invite the spectator to explore them by, among other things, testing to see whether the putative target domains and source domains can be flipped. Or maybe film metaphors just invite this bidirectional exploration more frequently than linguistic metaphors. But this might only be a difference between film metaphors and linguistic metaphors, not grounds for disallowing the very possibility of film metaphor. Conceding that film metaphors may involve more frequent bidirectional explorations than linguistic metaphors do does not, of course, concede that there are no unidirectional metaphors in film. For exploring an image like the machine/Moloch figure may result in one's conviction, given the contextual constraints of the fiction, that the metaphor is asymmetrical. Whether a film metaphor is symmetrical or asymmetrical depends upon whether the viewer can produce a suitably constrained interpretation of the image that renders it intelligible when the source domain and the target domains are reversed. There is no reason to suppose that this procedure will not produce many asymmetrical film metaphors. Thus the asymmetry objection is wrong at least for some of the candidates for strict film metaphor that I advance. Moreover, since there seems to be little structural or functional 12 difference between my asymmetrical film metaphors and the symmetrical variations, I maintain that we have more reason to ignore the proponents of the asymmetry argument than to heed them. Let us call such images J2 Here I have in mind the cognitive function of the figures to encourage insight into the concepts put forward for comparison by the metaphor. That is, Vertov's figure invites us to think about correspondences between eyes and cameras in the same way that it invites us to think about the way in which cameras are like eyes.

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strict film metaphors whether they are asymmetrical or symmetrical. For this will economize our theoretical activity. (3) The essentialist objection. I have talked about strict film metaphors. But in response, a critic might argue that there is nothing essentially cinematic about these metaphors at all. Metaphors just like these - rooted in homospatiality and physical noncompossibility - can be found in media other than film and, therefore, have no rightful claim to be called film metaphors. Consider Man Ray's 1938 Imaginary Portrait of D.A.F. de Sade (oil on canvas). It is dominated by a composite image in the foreground: the head of the Sade and his shoulders. Moreover, as we inspect the image closely, we notice that the figure of de Sade is composed of stones - some of which are cracking. These stones, furthermore, are the same sort of stones that comprise the walls of the Bastille, a building which we see burning in the background of the image. De Sade is clearly a composite figure; a human and a wall are fused in one homospatial unity which proposes a physically noncompossible being whose metaphorical significance is something like 'De Sade is a prison, bursting apart'. What has been repressed is smashing out of de Sade. This example meets all the criteria stated above for identifying a successful film metaphor, but the example is not a film metaphor, since it is a painting, not a movie. This is true. What it shows is that my first condition above has to be rewritten as 'she [the filmmaker] makes a visual image in film ... '. And once this phrase - 'in film' - is added, the theory will only identify visual metaphors that are film metaphors. Undoubtedly, the essentialist critic will not be satisfied by this adjustment. For he expects that if there is anything worth calling a film metaphor then that will be something whose metaphorical structures themselves are uniquely cinematic. And this is not the case with the decisive structures for film metaphor - such as homospatiality and physical noncompossibility - that I have identified. However, at this point in the dialectic, I must simply admit that I reject the essentialist's expectations. The metaphors that I have isolated are film metaphors because they are visual metaphors that occur in films. I see no reason to expect that film metaphors will possess some uniquely cinematic features that distinguish them from visual metaphors in other arts. Melodramas in theater and melodramas in film employ the same melodramatic structures. An informative analysis of a film melodrama will point to the same melodramatic ingredients the theater analysis will point to in a play. There are no unique cine-melodramatic characteristics - i.e., characteristics that appear not only in no other media, but also in no other film genre. Film analysis is no less effective for isolating melodramatic structures in films that are also found in theater. Likewise, film metaphors belong to the larger family of visual metaphors which can encompass examples from every existing artistic medium that deals in visual images, including not only film, but painting, sculpture, photography, video, theater, dance and so on. But this is not a problem. For in this case, as in every other I can think of, the film theorist benefits from thinking about what film has in common


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with other arts, just because we are able to bring to bear what we know of the other arts to the study of film. 13

Black, Max, 1954-1955. Metaphor. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society N.S. 55: 273-294. Bendix, Edward, 1971. The data of semantic description. In: D.D. Steinberg and L.A. Jacobovits, eds., Semantics: An interdisciplinary reader, 393~,09. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Carroll, No~l, 1980-1981. Language and cinema: Preliminary notes for a theory of verbal images. Millennium Film Journal 105 (7/8/9): 186-217. Carroll, No~l, 1991. Notes on the sight gag. In: Andrew S. Horton, ed., Comedy/cinema/theory. 25-2. Berkeley, CA: University of California. Carroll, No~l, 1994. Visual metaphor. In: Jakkoo Hintikka, ed., Aspects of metaphor, 189-218. Dordrecht: Kluwer. Clifton, N. Roy, 1983. The figure in film. Newark, DE: University of Delaware Press. Gianetti, Loise, 1972. Cinematic metaphors. Journal of Aesthetic Education 6(4): 49-61. Grice, H. Paul, 1975. Logic and conversation. In: Donald Davidson and Gilbert Harman, eds., The logic of grammar, 64-75. Berkeley, CA: University of California press. Kracauer, Siegfried, 1960. Theory of film. New York: Oxford University Press. Lakoff, George and Mark Turner, 1989. More than cool reason. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Lowenberg, Ina, 1981. Identifying metaphors. In: Mark Johnson, ed., Philosophical perspectives on metaphor, 154-181. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. Pryluck, Calvin, 1975. The film metaphor: The use of language-based models in film study. Literature and Film Quarterly 3(2): 117-123. Pryluck, Calvin, 1976. Sources of meaning in motion picture and television. New York: Arno Press. Whittock, Trevor, 1990. Metaphor and film. New York: Cambridge University Press.

13 This paper has offered an analysis of strict film metaphor. One reason I have used the label strict is because there are many examples of phenomena very much like the metaphors I have analyzed, but which also lack one of its central features. What I have in mind are images like the ones in Roger Corman's film Gas where the football players are partially attired in Nazi regalia. The point of this imagery seems clear, if unflattering: 'Footballers are Nazis'. At the same time, however, this cannot count as a strict or core film metaphor because, though there is homospatiality, there is not physical noncompossibility. For though it is implausible that the footballers should have Nazi uniforms available to them, it is not physically impossible. What I want to say is that such cases are not cases of strict film metaphor; they are not central cases. They do bear a strong family resemblance to central cases, however, and in virtue of that we may call them film metaphors, though not strict film metaphors. Physical noncompossibility, it seems to me, tracks the central or core cases of film metaphor, though in certain compelling cases, it may be that incongruously or implausibly juxtaposed elements which are nevertheless physically compossible elicit metaphorical thinking. This suggests that further research should be done into the type of incongruous, or implausible, or unlikely juxtapositions that, when saliently posed, can function like physical noncompossibility. Or, perhaps salience alone can elicit metaphorical thinking in some cases. But these are questions that may possibly require another theory and certainly another paper.