George Lakoff interviewed

BLVR: Can you explain to me in layman’s neuroscience terms how September 11 changed the way we think?

GL: It reshaped our brains. That’s why they had to keep showing the towers falling over and over and over again. The imagery meant that the towers were people. The planes going in are like bullets going through your brain, the people falling are you falling. Here’s a picture of you dying. The other thing was it was framed in terms of war, instead of crime. Then it was not just war, but metaphorical war, where the enemy is this abstract thing: terror. Terror, which is in you. That’s what’s sort of weird. The enemy is inside America. It’s terror, not terrorists, the outside guys. Of course, by saying ña war on terrorî you can never feel safe. The locus of the war is in you.

BLVR: Are the conservatives who formulated all of these terms aware of these other meanings?

GL: Yeah. I suspect Karen Hughes is smart enough to understand that.

BLVR: Really?

GL: Sure. Think about the image of those towers falling. Think about your empathic response. What you see there you feel in your body. You feel that the terror is in you. You feel that the destruction is in you. Just by looking at it over and over and over, it’s come into you, it’s changed your brain. And so you become the war. It’s not over there in Iraq. Now, you justify the war by saying, “It’s better that it’s fought there than here,” which is the relief. But of course, metaphorically, it’s here. There are people all over the Midwest worrying about the war, especially women, who are empathic, feeling it themselves, worrying that the war is going to come to Peoria, Illinois.

BLVR: Karl Rove’s strategy seems to be to take a Democratic candidate’s greatest strength and manage to turn it into their greatest weakness. He’s good at it. They did it with John McCain in the 2000 South Carolina primary, and with the Swift Boat thing. Is Kerry finally learning that lesson?

GL: That’s the idea. That’s just what happened. He’s learned exactly that lesson. In fact, he’s learned three of those lessons. They came out in that speech the other night. One lesson is to go after Iraq. Two is to go after Bush’s character by questioning his honesty. And three is to bring up the issue of weakening the country. And he finally started doing all three in the same speech and it was thrilling.

BLVR: Were you impressed with the tightness of the Republican convention?

GL: Incredible. Very impressive. What the Republicans did was craft a new complex frame bringing everything together. They had a job for each night. The job for the first night was to take the war on terror and generalize it to include Iraq, to say the Iraq war is an inherent part of the war on terror and is not only necessary, but inseparable. And then to generalize that to say “This is the great calling of our generation.” So you had lots of FDR, Lincoln and Reagan. Over and over again. It was weird to see FDR being pushed by conservatives who want to get him off the dime.

BLVR: Have there honestly been proposals to take him off the dime?

Sent to Coventry



The first known citation of the allusory meaning is from the Club Book of the Tarporley Hunt, 1765:

“Mr. John Barry having sent the Fox Hounds to a different place to what was ordered … was sent to Coventry, but return’d upon giving six bottles of Claret to the Hunt.”

By 1811, the then understood meaning of the term was defined in Grose’s The Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue:

To send one to Coventry; a punishment inflicted by officers of the army on such of their brethren as are testy, or have been guilty of improper behaviour, not worthy the cognizance of a court martial. The person sent to Coventry is considered as absent; no one must speak to or answer any question he asks, except relative to duty, under penalty of being also sent to the same place. On a proper submission, the penitent is recalled, and welcomed by the mess, as just returned from a journey to Coventry.

A well-known example of someone being sent to Coventry is Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), after his falling out with the Liddell family. Dodgson had developed a close relationship with the Liddell’s daughter Alice. In 1863, when Alice was 11, something happened to cause the family to ostracize him. Whatever it was we can’t now be sure as, although Dodgson recorded it in his diary at the time, the entry was later cut out by a Dodgson family member. This has led to widespread but unproven speculation that the relationship between Dodgson and Alice was inappropriate in some way – possibly what would now be called paedophilic.

Is the space for soul still undefiled

The inner coil and tangle of the wild,
Where rose run mad and holly are as one
Ensure that nature’s heart is undefiled

To these depths, the winter bird’s beguiled
Until the red dawn’s fetched by lowly sun
Through the coil and tangle of the wild.

On the path’s side, brown-green leaves are piled
A thousand beetles search for food within
A hidden space where nature’s undefiled

The cat is waiting, acting like the mild
Then dancing, hunting, acting like his kin
At ease in coil and tangle of worlds wild.

The sun is setting, and the night clouds pile
As lovers kiss, so smiles the holy one,
Living all his natures undefiled.

Now, at last, the darkness has begun
The trees unmoving shield the riots within
The inner coil and tangle make the wild,.
Is the space for soul still undefiled?