- The Journey metaphor and the Source-Path-Goal schema in Agnès Varda’s autobiographical 'gleaning' documentaries
- Book title
- Beyond cognitive metaphor theory: perspectives on literary metaphor
- Number of pages
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA)
The road movie is a well-established and productive genre within film studies. (Cohan & Rae Hark 1997). The fascination with cinematographically narrating a journey, of course, resides to a considerable extent in the fact that the journey is always undertaken for a reason that goes beyond getting from A to B: there is a problem to be solved, a mission to be fulfilled, penance to be done - in short, a "quest" must be performed. It is because we capture the meaningfulness of our lives in terms of quests of various sorts that the metaphor LIFE IS A JOURNEY is so pervasive in both artistic and everyday discourse. Unsurprisingly, the "journey" is also an important theme in documentaries, particularly autobiographical ones. The journey format invites cinematographic narration, and with its inherent motion lends itself well to the dynamics of a "quest." In fact, three central dimensions of the autobiographical travel documentary - journey, quest, story - share an underlying cognitive schema: the deeply "embodied" (e.g., Gibbs 2006) "Source-Path-Goal" schema, hitherto primarily developed within cognitive linguistics (Johnson 1993, Turner 1996). This isomorphism between the three dimensions moreover allows for rich artistic ambiguity.
In Forceville (2006a), the implications of this schema for three autobiographical travel documentaries by Johan van der Keuken, Ross McElwee, and Frank Cole were examined. In the chapter proposed here we will investigate how the possible interpretations of two closely related travel documentaries by Agnès Varda are both constrained and enriched by the S-P-G schema. One of the challenging factors in Varda’s films is that, contrary to those by van der Keuken, McElwee, and Cole, coincidence and happenstance are crucial themes, evoking the question whether a quest guided by chance is not a contradictio in terminis.
The broader interest of this chapter is in the claim by Lakoff & Johnson (1980, 1999) that we think metaphorically, and do so systematically, by considering the multimodal discourse of film. After all, if Lakoff and Johnson are right, metaphors and other blends (Fauconnier & Turner 2002) should be demonstrable in non-verbal and multimodal representations and discourses (Forceville 1996, 1999, 2005, 2006b, Forceville & Urios-Aparisi,2009) no less than in the verbal ones that have dominated the Cognitive Metaphor Theory paradigm. Investigating non-verbal and multimodal manifestations of conceptual metaphors is crucial for uncovering aspects of such metaphors that are specific for the pictorial or sonic mode and that do not necessarily surface in language.
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