Chapter published in:Epistemics of the Virtual
Johan F. Hoorn
[Linguistic Approaches to Literature 12] 2012
► pp. 75–123
3. Derailing the concepts
From metamorphosis to impersonation to metaphor
Sometimes things happen that disrupt our world view. That we should be capable of adapting our understanding of the world is well-illustrated by biological metamorphosis or shape-shifting, which happens when an organism goes through a sharp change of physical structure (cf. butterflies, frogs, salamanders). If you cannot let go of fixed concepts, caterpillar and butterfly appear to be two unrelated animals. Metamorphosis occurs frequently and does not only happen to animals but to humans and dead matter as well. For many organisms, shifting into another form has great advantages, for example, to avoid danger or attract sexual attention. Because metamorphosis occurs so often and urges to reconsider the boundaries of ontological classes and the attribution of truth, this chapter discusses the position of metamorphosis in the theory of fiction. It offers a set of rules to distinguish different types of metamorphosis and demonstrates the relation between metamorphosis and impersonation, personification, and metaphor. Finally, this chapter offers a theory of how metaphor takes metamorphosis from shifting forms into shifting meanings as well.