Perceptions of WWII while it was on

A Gallup poll taken in the summer of 1941 showed that a large majority of respondents agreed that America was bound to be drawn into the war eventually; a slightly smaller majority even agreed that it was more important to stop the Nazis than to stay neutral. (Japan wasn’t mentioned; even then nobody thought of Japan as a likely enemy.)

Yet “eventually drawn in” really meant “not now.” That was what routinely stunned travelers returning to America from the war zones, even late in 1941: how unworried everybody in America seemed. Crowds still swarmed heedlessly on undamaged streets; city skylines still blazed at night, like massed homing beacons for enemy bombers. But if you’d even mentioned the possibility of an air raid out loud, you’d have been laughed at. New Yorker reporter A. J. Liebling wrote a piece that summer about coming back to Manhattan after the fall of France and discovering just how impossible it was to get his friends to take the thought of war seriously: “They said soothingly that probably you had had a lot of painful experiences, and if you just took a few grains of nembutol so you would get one good night’s sleep, and then go out to the horse races twice, you would be your old sweet self again. It was like the dream in which you yell at people and they don’t hear you.”

LOSING THE WAR by Lee Sandlin

(The New Kings Of Nonfiction, edited by Ira Glass)

Imaginative rationality

Metaphor is thus imaginative rationality….Metaphor is one of our most important tools for trying to comprehend partially what cannot be comprehended totally: our feelings, aesthetic experiences, moral practices, and spiritual awareness. These endeavors of the imagination are not devoid of rationality; since they use metaphor, they employ an imaginative rationality

–George Lakoff Metaphors We Live By

Samuel Parker’s distrust of metaphor, in a metaphor

The empiricist distrust and fear of metaphor is wonderfully summed up by Samuel Parker:

All those Theories in Philosophy which are expressed only in metaphorical Termes, are not real Truths, but the meer products of Imagination, dress’d up (like Childrens babies) in a few spangled empty words____ Thus their wanton and luxuriant fancies climbing up into the Bed of Reason, do not only defile it by unchaste and illegitimate Embraces, but instead of real conceptions and notices of Things, impregnate the mind with nothing but Ayerie and Subventaneous Phantasmes. [Free and Impartial Censure of the Platonick Philosophy (1666)]

–George Lakoff Metaphors We Live By

Aristotle saw poetry as positive

Aristotle, on the other hand, saw poetry as having a positive value: “It is a great thing, indeed, to make proper use of the poetic forms,… But the greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor” (Poetics 1459a); “ordinary words convey only what we know already ; it is from metaphor that we can best get hold of something fresh” (Rhetoric 1410b)

–George Lakoff Metaphors We Live By

Metaphor are devices for understanding

Metaphors are basically devices for understanding and have little to do with objective reality, if there is such a thing. The fact that our conceptual system is inherently metaphorical, the fact that we understand the world, think, and function in metaphorical terms, and the fact that metaphors can not merely be understood but can be meaningful and true as well—these facts all suggest that an adequate account of meaning and truth can only be based on understanding.

–George Lakoff Metaphors We Live By

No such thing as inherent meaning in sentences

understanding. A sentence can’t mean anything to you unless you understand it. Moreover, meaning is always meaning to someone. There is no such thing as a meaning of a sentence in itself, independent of any people. When we speak of the meaning of a sentence, it is always the meaning of the sentence to someone, a real person or a hypothetical typical member of a speech community

–George Lakoff Metaphors We Live By

Learn by doing a little, every day

We don’t go to the gym expecting to put on 20 pounds of muscle in a single, day-long workout. Instead, we do several short workouts a week, spread out over months. Our bodies need time to heal; our muscles time to grow. And the same goes for that muscle inside your skull. When trying to develop a new skill, the important thing isn’t how much you do; it’s how often you do it.

Make no mistake, the goal isn’t to do avoid having to practice every day; it’s to make the repetition manageable so you can introduce new material every day. It’s about staying interested and excited about what you’re learning.

–Jack Cheng: 30 Minutes a Day