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Light, Fire, Prison: A Cognitive Analysis of Religious Imagery in Poetry

Tsur, Reuven (1998) Light, Fire, Prison: A Cognitive Analysis of Religious Imagery in Poetry. [Journal (Paginated)]

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Abstract

This paper explores the cognitive foundations and literary applications of spatial imagery. Cognitively, concrete visual images constitute a bundle of features and allow efficient coding of information for creativity. One image encoding many meaning units (an instance of "unity-in-variety") saves mental energy--a possible source of pleasure. The recoding of information into spatial imagery may help the cognitive system to overcome some of its limitations. Fast-changing or lowly-differentiated information may be recoded into a more stable and differentiated spatial template. Conceptually presented information may become less differentiated when recoded in Gestalt-free imagery. The paper explores how figurative language turns religious ideas into verbal imitations of religious experience, in two stylistic modes: "Metaphysical" and "Mystic-Romantic". It also investigates the problem of fusing the Biblical conception of a personal Creator with the Neo-Platonic conception of creation as light emanation. Four English poets and two medieval poets, Hebrew and Armenian, are compared in their handling of light, fire and prison images in this cognitive mode and in the literary modes of allegory, symbol and archetypal patterns.

Item Type:Journal (Paginated)
Keywords:cognitive poetics; metaphor; spatial imagery; efficient coding; gestalt-free; mystic poetry; Sidney; Donne; Wordsworth; T. S. Eliot; Shlomo Ibn Gabirol; Kostandin of Erznka
Subjects:Psychology > Applied Cognitive Psychology
Psychology > Psycholinguistics
ID Code:742
Deposited By:Tsur, Reuven
Deposited On:03 Oct 1998
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:54

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