Publication details [#5925]

Hiraga, Masako K. 1999. "Blending" and an interpretation of haiku: A cognitive approach. Poetics Today 20 (3) : 461–481. 21 pp.
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This essay aims to demonstrate that the "blending" model proposed by Mark Turner and Gilles Fauconnier is useful in analyzing short poetic texts such as haiku, which have rather obscure grammatical constructions and dense cultural implications. This model stresses the importance of "the emergent structure" of the blended space activated by inferences from the input spaces and the contextual background knowledge and, therefore, provides an effective tool for understanding the creativity of literary metaphors. In addition, this many-space approach better explains the rhetorical effects produced by loose grammatical configurations in the haiku texts, such as the juxtaposition of phrases by kireji (cutting letters) and multiple puns or phrases produced by personification and allegory. The analysis also shows that haiku texts, which are rich in traditional implications, assume common knowledge that shapes the cultural cognitive model. Such knowledge would include (1) pragmatic knowledge of the context, such as time, place, customs, life, and so on; (2) folk models, which originate from myth and folk beliefs about the conceptualization of existing things; (3) conventional metaphors, in George Lakoff and Mark Johnson's sense, which have been conventionalized in a given speech community over time, and which a poet exploits in nonconventional ways; and (4) the iconicity of kanji, Chinese ideograms, which link form and meaning, particularly with regard to their etymological derivation, and thereby serve as a cognitive medium for haiku texts. The blending model provides an account for the process of integration of these features of background knowledge in the reading of texts. (Masoko Hiraga)