March 12: lateral category confusion or climbing the beanstalk

My dad, who died last week, was in his last months afflicted by what we might call lateral category confusion. He went round to see the neighbours with a bar of soap and asked them how he was supposed to cook it. He looked at a handful of nuts left in his hand that he was unable to eat from a Cabbury’s Wholenut bar and asked how much they were were worth and how he could spend them. He sat down down in the dentists chair and when asked by the dentist what was the matter told him he had a bad shoulder. His categories had all got mixed up.
It’s actually what happens when we create a metaphor where a mix-up of categories is seen as a creative interpretation of data. It’s also what happened to Jack in ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ who swapped his cow for a handful of beans at the the market. Just what Jack was thinking when he bought the beans the fairy tale does not tell us. Was he thinking those beans would be a sound finnacial investment for his mother (this was, i believe, a one-parent family). The shareholders of the company (ie mum) were unimpressed but Jack knew better or was it that he just got lucky? The beans became a beanstalk and a route to a high yield investment, once the threats of the European Union (ie the giant) had been negotiated. Jack had made a lateral category shift from livestock to agriculture and it paid off. Dad was making those shifts all the time in the end. He should have been running the Brexit negotiations. Jean-Claude Juncker would have been stumped by him.

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