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How is it that the brain can perceive an object from various angles and walk 180° around it? How is the brain able to synthesize those multifarious impressions into a single image or simultaneous vision while maintaining their identity? This is possible because of the human brain's advanced cognitive capacity for compression or integration.

For example, when viewing Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase, our brains are able to compress the indefinite action of descending into a definitive action of descent. Similarly, the brain, thanks to a compression, is able to see a single image within disparate elements. We can think of Duchamp's Nude in reference to Hejinian's My Life, which, on one level, is also a compression of many temporal stages of the narrator's life ”" infancy, childhood, adolescence and adulthood ”" into a single unity: one person who undergoes change. The use of metonymy and parataxis in My Life also gives an illusion as if space could be perceived all at once.

Through this conceptual integration resulting in a blended space with "emergent structure"—something that exists in none of the other spaces but which emerges from the blend, My Life dodges closure. My Life demonstrates how the meaning cannot be closural, as it is not a fixed entity, but rather ongoing and dynamic, constrained only by the parameters of language and conceptualization. Instead, meaning, as Margaret Freeman proposes, "neither inheres in the reader nor in the text. Nor does it reside in the mind of the writer." Meaning is always a result of a new structure which emerges as a cross-space between two or more inputs.



The Rhythm of Cognition


Any reader who comes across Lyn Hejinian's pocket size book entitled My Life is jarred at first by seeming lack of semantic continuity and the restless quality of paratactic syntax. Yet, amidst seemingly chaotic and free form My Life reveals a deeply embedded pre-determined pattern. My Life is procedural, composed as a structurally closed space based on mathematical principle. The book resembles a math game or an Oulipian form. Written in 1978, it was originally composed of 37 sections with 37 sentences in each section. Hejinian was, at that time, 37 years old. My Life is, then, by no means formless; on the contrary, it has rigid structure and form, which at the same time never leads to a compartmentalization of meaning. The book is being continuously written; it goes on as the author lives. In every new edition a new sentence is added on to every "part." This gesture, as Hejinian explains, is meant to represent the passing of time. Upon turning 45, in 1986, Hejinian inserted eight new sentences in various places to each section, so the seams are unrecognizable. Also, eight sections were added to the book. This pattern creates a space in which closure (we patch the fragments and the missing pieces together) and non-closure (sentences and paragraphs remain, nevertheless, separate and paratactical) flash or vibrate into one another and create constant tension. As the final fragment of this book states: "Reluctance such that it can't be filled" (Hejinian 1997: 88).

                        My Life starts with the evocation of the moment through color. "A moment yellow, just as four years later, when my father returned home from the war”" (Hejinian 1997: 7). According to cognitive science, color does not reside inherently in the world, but both in the world and our optical and neural processing of the world. Color is not an inherent quality of an object but a phenomenon of human visual perception. Merleau-Ponty (1962) says that color is the place where our brain and the universe meet. The deliberate choice of color as the beginning of description is the choice of emotion over reason; we respond emotionally to situations before we can think them through. Neurological research confirms the hypothesis that emotion has primacy over reason in thought production or storing of information. Ann Marry Barry writes in Visual intelligence "The recognition that emotional memory guides consciousness, and not the other way round, is one of the most important concepts confirmed by neuroscience in the past two decades" (Barry 1997: 3). All learning, Barry maintains, is accomplished through chemicals which draw neural axons toward the right destination, and are reinforced emotionally through direct connection with the brain's limbic structures: "The primacy of the limbic system in reinforcing bias and guiding both the unconscious and conscious processes—together with an understanding of the complementary modularity and parallel visual processing of such elements as color, form, depth and motion—provide the foundation for perceptual aesthetics" (Barry 1997: 3).

Hence, Hejinian opts for affective memory, a memory consisting of the unconscious drives. Chronos becomes replaced by kairos. By favoring dream-like and fragmented images, Hejinian makes a statement about the inaccuracy of memory. In such cognitive understanding of time, the chronological memory becomes inaccurate and gappy, as Hejinian expresses in one of her sentences: "one can run through the holes in memory." In Poetic Investigations, Paul Naylor writes, "For one thing, humans typically forget a great deal of what happens to them, creating gaps in their accounts of themselves; for another, the context in which the past is being remembered, the time in which the account is composed, exerts a selective pressure on memory" (Naylor 1993: 122).  How is that possible that our mind is able to tie together these disparate dream images into a single image? The brain glues or accrues fragments of dreams as in a collage, looking for meaning and patterns.  All images, as Barry indicates, are neural clusters of meanings, "a kind of 'euro' currency that allows trade between sensory experience and the image maps of past experience" (Barry 1997: 2). "Arts, also, are links," Hejinian says (Hejinian 1997: 103). In her essay "Continuing Against Closure," Hejinian writes, "We witness sequiturs without transition and non-sequiturs with them. Logic inserts itself everywhere and narrative follows as fast as it can though often it can't keep up with events since they advance in leaps that leave logicians behind" (2001:2). Highly creative and artistically inclined people might have a better ability for linking unrelated concepts because of an extraordinary number of glial cells in their brain which "play a vital role in the interconnectedness of symbolic thinking" (Barry 1997: 6). Glial cells make it possible to coordinate the firing of neural networks across vast regions in the brain which leads to metaphoric mapping across various domains of thinking. Hejinian writes, "Reason looks for two, then arranges it from there" (Barry 1997:81).

Non-sequitur is achieved through the device of parataxis, or what Ron Siliman called "a new sentence," which induces separateness in My Life but also forces readers to run a blend in order to comprehend the text (1987:91). Hejinian sums up this rhythm of cognition both influenced by Ron Siliman and Merleau-Ponty's philosophy of language in a sentence: "A paragraph is a time and place, not a syntactic unit" (1997: 137). She adds, "A fragment is not a fraction but a whole piece" (1997: 116). In her doctoral dissertation, Jessica Luck writes:  


[Hejinian's]  poetry, like the architecture of human consciousness, does not have the sounds of music, but its structure—repeated leitmotifs offering refrains that tie the pieces together (like the brain's convergence zones and Hejinian's repeated tag lines), as well as numerical patterns (think of the sequences of DNA and Hejinian's 45 x 45 structure) that create rhythm and consistency. (Luck 2006: 173-174)


Consistency and rhythm in Hejinian's My Life is achieved by repetition of certain sentences. A tagline in the left corner which opens the book: "A Pause, a rose, something on paper" (Hejinian 1997: 7) appears in the text 18 times, sometimes unchanged and sometimes with added words, such as: "A pause, a rose, something on a paper—an example of parascription" (Hejinian 1997: 88).  On the one hand, the brain processing is rhythmic and that's why the repetitions in the poem function as a relief or a reward to the meaning-seeking reader. "Because of their recurrence, what had originally seemed merely details of atmosphere became, in time, thematic" (Hejinian 1997: 15-16). After all, the system of self-reward is the major motivating agent of the brain. On the other hand, Hejinian's repetitions constantly elude and tease the reader by breaking the expectations and dodging closure. The recurrence of shared frame creates symmetry and equilibrium but it is rather like a promise to quench a reader's thirst suspending the drink at the lips level. As Dworkin says "My Life engages a dialectic between the disjunctive parataxis of its sentences and their potential for forming recoverable narratives. The text constantly negotiates not only between openness and closure but also between making and frustrating the sense" (Dworkin 1995:  76-77).

The Enactment of Consciousness Through Metonymy


         For Hejinian, a metonymy serves as a tool or a rhetorical device to enact consciousness. We read in My Life: "Not fragments but metonymy. Duration. Language makes tracks" (Hejinian 1997: 83). Metonymy, however, works in My Life on the level of sentences and paragraphs rather than words. A reader won't find metonymies in a literal sense, but will find them on a meta-linguistic level. In her essay "Strangeness," Hejinian writes, "metonymy conserves perception of the worlds of the objects, conserves their quiddity, their particular precisions, it is a scientific description" (Hejinian 2000: 151). It is by its quality of contiguity (or Jakobson's association of contiguity), being positioned on a syntagmatic axis, that metonymy produces a constant deferral of meaning and closure, hence generates potency and plentitude, a vast array of interpretative probabilities. For Hejinian, "metonymic thinking moves quite rapidly and less predictably than metaphors permit—but the metonym is not metaphor's opposite. Metonymy moves restlessly through an associative network in which associations are compressed rather than elaborated. Metaphor is intervallic, incremental—it exists within a measure. A metonym is condensation of its context" (Hejinian 2000: 149).

Hejinian claims in her essay that the metonymic structure which preserves context (or more precisely is a condensation of it) and foregrounds relationships is more unstable than the metaphoric structure which depends on a code. Metonymy is more random and arbitrary than a metaphor; its paratactic nature provides the particulars, with "multiple vanishing points," and foregrounds interrelationship (Hejinian 2000: 38). Metonymy, whose core is "contiguity," indeed triggers multiple "referentialities." Hejinian quotes Jakobson (1987), who quotes Pasternak: "Each detail can be replaced by another”Any of them, chosen at random, will serve to bear witness to the transposed condition, by which the whole of reality has been seized" (Hejinian 2000: 149).

By claiming that metonymy is contingent and contextual and does not generate closure, while metaphor depends on a code which fixes the meaning and generates closure, Hejinian reduces the difference between these two modes of thinking (metonymic and metaphoric) into a simplistic binary. By positioning metonymy on a syntagmatic axis, based on a property of linearity and combination, and metaphor on a paradigmatic axis based on selection, Hejinian borrows her opposition between metaphor and metonymy from a 50-year-old Jakobsonian binary of those two tropes introduced in his classic essay, "Two Aspects of Language and Two Types of Aphasic Disturbances" (1956).

            As Günter Radden (2000) claims, the traditional distinction between metaphor and metonymy can no longer be maintained, as it is difficult to tell whether a given linguistic unit is metaphoric or metonymic. Radden gives an example of Suddenly the pilot comes over the intercom, which can be both metonymic (pilot's voice comes over the intercom) and metaphoric (the pilot announces something over the intercom) (Radden 2000: 93). Hence, in her binary division between metaphor and metonymy, Hejinian does not account for the blending of metaphor and metonymy. In My Life it is impossible to differentiate between metonymy and metaphor because, as readers, we are deprived of any context for given sentences.

            My Life, however, collapses the binary between the metaphor and metonymy which Hejinian introduces in her theory. In her effort to touch the core of the things, Hejinian resorts to both metonymies and metaphors, blurring the differences between them: "The baby is scrubbed everywhere, he is an apple," "Apples have bellies" (Hejinian 1997: 19, 42). The latter example of metonymy implies elliptical conciseness—it shortens distances to enable the swift intuition of things already known, perhaps because it enacts subconsciousness. If we compare the cognitive linguistics approach to metonymy with Hejinian's understanding of metonym, we discover a parallel. Hejinian claims that metonym is a cognitive entity with immediate ties to a logic of perception. The metonym operates within several simultaneous but not necessarily congruent logics.

In My Life metonymy shortens the distance between the speakers; it is the discourse of intimacy. We can, then, equate metonymy with parataxis in My Life and this is precisely how Hejinian intends her metonymy to be understood. It is like being in a gallery where our attention shifts from painting to painting. However, the sudden shifts from painting to painting make one jittery: "In the museum, attention shifted from painting to painting, the eye forced around, so that it was impossible to focus on any single work" (Hejinian 1997: 74). Hejinian's text is rather like a hypertext gallery where all the images happen simultaneously and they jump at a reader from a page. In such experience disorientation equals unwavering curiosity and excitement.

      Even if devoid of conjunctions, Hejinian's sentences, understood metonymically, point to a missing whole: "Things are different but not separate, thoughts are discontinuous not unmotivated (like a rose without pause)" (Hejinian 1997: 137). In another place, Hejinain writes, "I am a shard signifying isolation—here I am thinking aloud of my affinity for the separate fragment taken under scrutiny" (1997: 71). David Lodge observes that the metonymy is not only concerned with the relationship between part and whole, but with the reader's desire to "unite" disparate contiguous parts. Lodge writes, "Metaphoric mode bewilders us with a plethora of possible meaning. The metonymic text in contrast, deluges us with a plethora of data, which we seek to unite into one meaning (Lodge 1977: 11). Hejinian gives an example of this tendency to unify disparate, paratactic sentences in the following passage from My Life: 


The sudden brief early morning breeze, the first indication of a day's palpability, stays high in the trees, while flashing silver and green the leaves flutter, a bird sweeps from one branch to another, the indistinct shadows lift off the crumpled weeds, smoke rises from the gravel quarry—all this is metonymy.

(Hejinian 1997: 81)


A fine illustration of the urge to unify the disparate fragments metonymically can be found in an essay by Craig Douglas Dworkin (1995). In his comparison of My Life to a quilt, a patchwork, Dworkin claims that "local disjunctions are exchanged for large-scale coherence, even if that larger integrity is constantly frustrated by the opposite tendency— fragments which cohere locally but do not always seem to fit well into their context" (1995: 69). According to Dworkin, disjunctive patterns reveal an overall composition. For example, specific thematic concerns such as war, vacation, the weather, windows, birds emerge throughout the text. Dworkin gives an example of the trip to the zoo. Hejinian reminiscences about a trip to the zoo throughout her narrative. She writes, "The blue fox has ducked its head" (1997: 12). Later, we read "We might go to the zoo and see the famous hippo named Bubbles" (1997: 23), and she continues: "I wanted to see a mountain lion but had to content myself with a raccoon" (1997: 35). And finally we face a longer narrative describing a visit to a zoo during which a fox devours a sparrow: 


And finally, on a visit to the zoo, as we were passing by the enclosure where the silver foxes were kept, I saw a flock of sparrows pecking at the ground of the enclosure, and one of them, venturing too close to a fox which was crouching in the shadow of an artificial rock, was suddenly seized by the fox, who swallowed it in a moment. (Hejinian 1997: 42)


What follows is a statement that gains its meaning in relation to the previous event: "the fox that survives is successful" (Hejinian 1997: 57).  This central episode, as Dworkin notes, recasts the first sentence about the blue fox ducking its head. Thus the sentences serve a double function—one local in that they constitute independent meaning on the level of the sentence, and another metonymic in that they are fragments of a larger whole. Each sentence becomes a partial narrative which gets embellished as we store more information. In Dworkin's example the first sentence, when matched metonymically with all the other zoo fragments, acquires a new meaning.

Jessica Luck compares metonym to a theory of modular minds, as introduced by Ellen Spolsky. "Metonym through its distillation or generalization of some particular entity in the world," Luck writes, "echoes the work of a module or neuronal group in the brain that processes only a small part of the big picture" (Luck 2006: 168). Our consciousness is gappy, built of various modules. The pieces are put together through our central systems or gap-filled consciousness. As Spolsky claims, literary texts have the power to fill in these gaps in a very unconventional way and the most imaginative texts are able to "vault the gaps in brain structure and surpass the limitations of biological inheritance" (Spolsky, 1993: 2). "The mind itself hurts you into poetry" writes Spolsky, and My Life is an illustration of this claim. As Luck writes:


Hejinian's paratactical style reflects the aesthetic nature of the mind's modular perception by forcing the reader to play the role of the mind's central systems that create a seamless whole out of seemingly incommensurable parts. At the same time, parataxis allows readers to experience the transitional nature of thought, as multiple connections proliferate between ideas, slowing the mind's rush to interpret and conclude”.The multiplicity of potential connections between sentences causes the reader's mind to reel from meaning to meaning, generating and highlighting the experience of the mind's flights, its transitional nature. And these multiple meanings and conclusions don't shut down the process, as the connections between things become things in themselves, more substantive parts for the mind to fly among.  (Luck 2006: 175)


Metonymy becomes an example of the conceptual compression. For Radden and Kövecses, metonymy does not simply mean: X stands for Y, but X +Y (1999: 18). The shift of the model from hierarchical substitution—X stands for Y to a more conceptual blend of X plus Y can have significant consequences regarding how metonymic relations are employed on a sentence and paragraph level in Hejinian's work. Radden and Kövecses (1999) explain their theory via the example of the metonymic expression she's just a pretty face, in which face substitutes for person. Yet, as Radden and Kövecses point out, she's just a pretty face does not mean that she's pretty all over (1999: 19). Also, a person might be pretty, but not have a pretty face. Thus two metonymies: the face for the person and a person for the face complement each other. A person's face evokes the person, but does not substitute for it; these two domains—vehicle and target— are thus interrelated to form a new meaning. In the example she is a pretty face, both vehicle (pretty face) and target (person) are conceptually present, but one of them is more salient, therefore selected as a vehicle. Similarly, if we go back to Dworkin's example of the zoo pattern, we can see how the sentence The blue fox has ducked its head is a complex blend that allows its non-counterparts to be combined through metonymic connections in the inputs. If we consider the most salient inputs, such as "the fox that survives is successful" and "a silver fox which devours a sparrow," we discover, through metonymic relations, connections between fox, success and sparrow. Fox metonymically stands for success and bird metonymically signifies freedom and the blueness of sky. In a blend fox somehow acquires the qualities of the bird.  It acquires the color of the sky—the domain of birds, and it is able to "duck its head." The blue fox that ducks its head changes into a hybrid species; an inhabitant of the third space. Without such associations these counterpart connections would be impossible, but as Hejinian writes, "I do love to compare apples with oranges" (Hejinian 1997: 152). The sentence The blue fox has ducked its head, when understood metonymically in relation to other "zoo sentences," acquires a new, complex meaning. Such understanding of metonymy confirms Radden and Kövecses's definition of metonymy that "does not simply substitute one entity for another entity, but interrelates them to form a new, complex meaning" (1999: 19). 


Conceptual Integration via Mirror Blends 


The parataxis which Hejinian parallels with metonym gives an illusion as if space could be perceived all at once. This feeling of simultaneity evokes Cubists' paintings, in which "visual segments of the front, back, top, bottom, and sides of an object jump out and assault the viewer's eye simultaneously" (Shlain 1991: 189). As in Einstein's formula, all frames of reference in a Cubist painting are relative. Thus Cubism, through the representation of an object from many simultaneous facets, broke with the Renaissance perspective. The concept of simultaneity in art was also undertaken by Futurists, such as Marcel Duchamp in his famous painting Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 (1912) (Figure 1).

Also the chronicity of time is abolished in My Life, as it blends the spots of plotlines from infancy, childhood, adolescence and adulthood and attempts to present them all at once. "The day will twinkle, sparkle, shoot forth its single bits," writes Hejinain (1997: 31). The effect is, again, of Cubist simultaneous perspective, such as in Pablo Picasso's Les Demoiselle d'Avignon's (Figure 2) or Marcel Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2. The figures in these paintings are supposed to jump out at a viewer simultaneously. Cubism was congenial, capturing mind's fluidity. The question, however, arises whether the Cubist simultaneous vision is possible from the neurological point of view. We know that the brain captures motion differently from color, form, and line, so the attempt to capture multiple views in a single view through visual ambiguity seems impossible. Hejinian's dream-like and discordant images also seem to fail to represent simultaneity of vision and the rejection of closure. After all, a human brain finds pattern and meaning even in dreams, as human nervous activity is synthetic, seeking gestalts even when they are not there. A Cubist painter, Juan Gris, claims that Cubism is an artistic rendering of a movement "around an object to seize several successive appearances, which, fused in a single image, reconstitute it in time" (Zeki 1999: 50).

How is it that the brain can perceive an object from various angles and walk 180° around it? How is the brain able to synthesize those multifarious impressions into a single image or simultaneous vision, in other words, maintain their identity? This is possible because of the human brain's advanced cognitive capacity for compression or integration. Mark Turner (2006) points to an example of compression in Pablo Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (Figure 2). A figure in the bottom right corner, the so-called Wild Squatter, is a blend of multiple views. As Turner points out, "she has a nose seen in profile, which comes from one view of the woman, but two eyes, which come from quite a different view of the woman" (2006: 132). The face of Wild Squatter is a blend of emergent properties which arise from a compression of elements from the profile view, the frontal view, and the back view. As Turner explains, this is an example of a "mirror" integration network in which all the inputs share a single organizing frame that gives them analogical relations (Figure 3). Like Picasso's Wild Squatter, Duchamp's Nude is also an example of compression in space. Turner writes,


In this case, the compressed blend has elements that come from different temporal moments of watching the nude as it descends the staircase. In the blend, but in none of the inputs, we have an extremely familiar conceptual unit, the descent, which remains connected to the different temporal moments. This unity-out-of-diversity can be expressed visually in Duchamp's fashion or linguistically by means of a definite noun phrase: "the descent." Duchamp's blend has emergent properties not possessed by any of the inputs: for example, in the blend, but in none of the inputs, we have a static form for the line of descent of the head. (Turner 2006: 135)


Hence, as Turner indicates, our brains are able to compress the indefinite action of descending into a definitive action of descent. Similarly, the brain, thanks to a compression, is able to see a single image within disparate elements. We can think of Duchamp's Nude in reference to Hejinian's My Life, which, on one level, is also a compression of many temporal stages of the narrator's life ”" infancy, childhood, adolescence and adulthood ”" into a single unity: one person who undergoes change.

There is yet another mirror blend that can arise from mapping our life of a reader into the domain of an already existent blended space of the narrator's life. Out of those two inputs which are already blends, and which share a corresponding topology of infancy, childhood, adolescence and adulthood, a new blend arises which is a collective life of a person (Figure 4).

Also Figure 5 (A Single Person Blend) is an illustration of the compression in reference to My Life. A single person blend which I drew and described in Figure 5 is an example of a mirror blend, because the input spaces mirror each other by having the same organizational frame, such as the life and identity of a single person. Yet, the final mirror blend questions the idea of self as unity, or, more precisely the Western concept of Self/self. My Life disrupts the "subject-self schema" in which each subject has a definable self. The sentences listed under specific inputs shift into other inputs as they describe fluid ideas of self independent of age, such as "I often felt 'jittery' and took long walks, trying to get a long way from what I actually felt" or  "Women, I heard, should speak softly without mumbling" (Hejinian 1997:  62, 52). As Juliana Spahr notices, "Hejinian frequently repeats the phrase 'I wanted to be”,' a phrase that concentrates on what the 'I' is not" (Spahr 2001: 78). Indeed Hejinian (1997: 32) writes: "I wanted to be a brave child, a girl with guts." Earlier we read, "I wanted to be both the farmer and his horse when I was a child" (Hejinian 1997: 29). In yet another moment we come upon: "If I couldn't be a cowboy, then I wanted to be a sailor" (Hejinian 1997: 47). We face here two mental spaces: the Reality Space and the Hypothetical or Volitional Space. We have the "Projected Subject Metaphor" here, "according to which a Subject can be projected onto someone's else Self in a hypothetical situation" (Lakoff 1996: 99). Also Hejinian's selves could be grouped under the "Divided-Person Metaphor," via which it is possible to imagine ourselves as being someone else.  

As illustrated in Figure 5, we have a blend construction with such self-declarative statements as: "I am a shard, signifying isolation—here I am thinking aloud of my affinity for the separate fragment taken under scrutiny" (Hejinian  1997: 71). I've named this blend "Single Person," yet if we analyze the sentences in this blend, we have an altered representation of conventional idealization. Hejinian's idea of self overrides the idealized models that display features of coherence and unity. As Spahr notices, in other places in My Life, there is deliberate pronoun confusion and disruption of syntactical coherence that complicates "not only gendered identity but also the relation between this identity and grammar" (Spahr 2001: 79). We encounter the example of this shard-like personality in the following fragment: "I remind myself, I don't exactly remember my name, of a person, we'll call it Asylum, a woman who, and I've done this myself, has for good reasons renounced some point, say the window in the corner of the room, and then accepts it again" (Hejinian 1997: 79). According to Lakoff (1996), the analysis of metaphors of self indicates that we conceptualize a single person as divided. In Hejinian's poem there is no stable definition of self: "My life is as permeable constructedness" (Hejinian 1997:  93). Hejinian demonstrates the complexity of self and various kinds of Subject/Self divisions. Hejinian manages to grasp self without simplifying it. In this sense her account of self is congruent with the findings of cognitive linguistics. As Lakoff (1996) maintains the divisions of self do not fit any simple category. Therefore the Cartesian mind/body dualism is oversimplified, as there are many forms of consciousness. 

Similarly, Hejinian's representations of selves reveal the multitude and complexity. In Hejinian's poem the self fluctuates, as the blurred boundaries between the inputs indicate. The self is posited in the third dynamic space and a reader has to operate within the blend in order to enter the dynamic space of "self." In doing so, we act out Hejinian's selves. We become poets ourselves, but also subjects of her book.

The genre blend in My Life also enhances the feeling of simultaneity. The intermingling of various genres creates a collage of prose poetry, open form, autobiography, dream narrative, introducing gaps in linearity or no linearity at all, and inviting a reader to move in swirls and curves. All these inputs overlapping with each other lead to a conceptual blend, a disruption of the conventional blend (see Figures 6 and 7). As readers, we rely on schemas, on a template of autobiography ”" we expect dates, plots, facts, chronology. These schemas, as Michael Sinding (2005) describes them, are simplified abstract elements and relations that constitute concepts. Yet My Life disrupts the conventional and simplified schema by omitting facts, places, and names and by rejecting the closure of linearity and chronology. Still a reader searches through schema knowledge for a resolution. My Life constantly teases us away from finding a meaning or revelation. Even though it is a conceptual deviation from the schema of autobiography, we, nevertheless, find the overarching themes and patterns and somehow restore or refresh the schema.

My Life constantly invites readers to unpack the metonymic and metaphoric shortcuts. It is an invitation to effort until our mind hurts us into poetry. It is a record of mind's ability for compression ”" the reward of thinking. It invites us to resist commodified meaning and easy, simplistic answers. Instead, it encourages thinking as the reward in itself: "the intellect lingers, this too is erotic—the anticipation of the pleasure of making sense" (Hejinian 1997: 149).


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