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June 10, 1974

If Only

JAMA. 1974;228(11):1423-1424. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230360053030

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If only the heat of "heated" arguments and of the anger that makes us "hot under the collar" could heat our cold homes! If only the faith that "moves mountains" and the "love that moves the sun and the other stars" could move our cars! If only these energies could be transduced from metaphor to substance, our energy crisis would be resolved.

But can they?

Shakespeare tells us they cannot. The powers of metaphor-generating imagination are confined to the mind. "O, who could hold a fire in hand / By thinking on the frosty Caucasus? /... / Or wallow naked in December snow / By thinking on fantastic summer heat?" Dryden, on the other hand, confides that "virtue, though in rags, will keep me warm." Artists assure us that "warm" colors actually make us feel warm. And hot-rock fans never doubt that their brand of music is thermogenic.

Does the convertibility of mental to