content which is evoked by an expression is not its only meaning. What is
equally important is how that content is construed by the human mind. Owing to
the conventional semantic value, each symbolic structure construes the content
in its certain fashion. The visual metaphor is what is inevitable as in it the
content is likened to a scene and construal to a particular way of viewing that
content. It is never claimed that all meanings are based on space or visual
perception. However, the visual metaphor suggests that there is a path to
classify the many sides of construal, if only for expository purposes.
While viewing a
scene, what a human being sees is dependent on how closely the person examines
it and what the person chooses to look at. It also depends on which elements
that person pays most attention to and from where it is viewed. To comprehend
the construal phenomena one needs to delve deep into these four labels:
specificity, focusing, prominence, and perspective. These four apply to
concepts in all domains. Hence, it is clear that in the process of film
cognition too these four labels will come into play on the part of the
One of the
dimensions of construal is the level of detail and precision at which a
particular situation is characterized. The temperature on a particular day can
be described by saying that it is hot. However, the person can opt for a lot
more specific by saying that it is in the 80s, about 85 degrees, or exactly
85.2 degrees. Likewise, mother is
more specific than relative and white pigeon is more specific than bird. Granularity and resolution are the
alternate terms for specificity.
What it means to
say that an expression is highly specific is that it describes a situation in
fine-grained detail, with high resolution. The expressions which have lesser
specificity have coarse-grained descriptions and the low resolution reveals
only gross features.
The opposite of
specificity is schematicity. Thus relative
is schematic with respect to mother,
and bird with respect to white pigeon. It needs to be mentioned
that a schematic characterization is instantiated by any number of more
specific ones, of which each serve the purpose of elaboration.
which is elaborative is represented by a solid arrow:
A ? B.
Expressions can be
arranged in elaborative hierarchies. Here each expression is schematic with
respect to the ones that follow:
bird ? pigeon ?
hot ? in the 80s ?
about 85 degrees ? exactly 85.2 degrees
It has to be
understood that participating in elaborative relations are both novel expressions
of any size and also lexical items. In lexicon, such relations constitute
taxonomies which mean hierarchies of conventionally recognized types. An
example is cited below:
thing ? object ?
book ? geography book
It has to be
understood that a person can make an expression as specific as he or she likes
and it can be of any length or stretch in case of films. Making the stretch
longer means the person can describe a situation more precisely and in greater
detail. However, there are practical limits. Since the stretch is finite in
nature, a certain expression can only be specific to a particular extent and
this is possible with respect to certain facets of the overall situation in
There can be
expressions as the one mentioned below which exhibit a mixture of schematic and
Somebody saw a
rugged thug wearing a black jacket.
meanings too are specific in only some respects while being schematic in the
others. What is very fundamental to cognition is the phenomenon of
schematization. This is constantly occurring in every realm of human
experience. Schema extraction is actually the reinforcing of something inherent
in multiple experiences. This is done by identifying the commonality among them
at whatever level of granularity it can be ascertained. Thus, a schema should
be seen as immanent in its varied instantiations. It is not separate and
distinct. The very nature of schema is to capture the common thing which can be
estimated after having experiences. Schema serves a categorizing function and
thus can be applied to any new experience which exhibits the same
In every aspect of
language structure and film cognition, schemas and elaborative relationships
are very essential. It can be claimed that all conceptual generalizations arise
via schematization from structures which are more specific. In the field of
semantics, schemas and categorizing relationships which are based on either
elaboration or extension make the network which represents the senses of
apolysemous lexical item.
representations of conventional patterns, schemas provide the basis for
assessing the proper formation of language. An expression is taken to be
well-formed to the extent that it bears relationships of elaboration (rather
than extension) to the schemas which are invoked to categorize it.
This notion of
specificity is also applicable in case of films across the world. In the
closing scene of the famous film White, which is one of the films of the Three
Colors Trilogy, the director, Kieslowski, shows the male protagonist looking at
his wife who is jailed on the accusation of killing him, something that he has
framed her for as revenge. He looks at her from a distance as she makes some
gestures expressing her desire to be with him. His face is held in close up by
the camera and the audience can very well see each of his facial reaction, his
frowns, his tears and his grin which all in unison express his pain of love and
hatred which are dichotomous, yet prevailing in his mind at the same time. The expression of these emotions in the scene
by the use of cinematic apparatus makes the audience find specificity of the
protagonist’s emotions which are shown on the screen. In juxtaposition to this,
if this would have been a long shot and his expressions would not have been so
conspicuous, the audience would have missed out on the subtlety of his emotions
and they might have comprehended the sequence depending on the schema of
emotions in their minds which goes with the sequence.
access particular portions of the conceptual universe through the linguistic
expressions. This dimension of construal which is known as focusing includes
foreground vs. background which can be described as the arrangement which helps
one understand the meaning of something.
A lexical item
gives direct access to a set of cognitive domains ranked for the centrality as
a part of the conventional value. The inventory of the domain is actually a
representation of a selection of conceptual content. The central domains are
foregrounded (in the sense of being more accessible) vis-à-vis peripheral ones.
It has to be understood that the domains which are selected are active to
varying degrees. Also, of all the domains in the matrix, only a limited number
can be activated on a particular occasion. A high level of activation can be
defined as a kind of foregrounding. It has to be understood that focusing is a
matter of degree. Focusing is actually relative to particular purposes, and
levels of organization, dimensions of structure.
Different sorts of
asymmetries lend themselves to the metaphoric description as foreground vs.
background. These are differentiable but can be seen to manifest a very general
feature of cognition. What they all involve is the departure from a baseline,
the exploitation of previous experience for the interpretation of the
subsequent experience. The manifestation in perception is a phenomenon which is
called figure vs. ground. For example, a sudden sound stands out as figure
against the ground of silence and a small, moving cursor against the more
stable background on a laptop screen. The other manifestation is
categorization. This happens when the categorizing structure is recognized
within the experience being categorized. What lies in the background is the
categorizing structure and it is taken for granted as a pre-established basis
for assessment. The target is in the foreground of awareness as the structure
which is being observed and assessed by the spectator in case of films.
One can speak of
background and foreground for any situation where one conception precedes and
in some way helps the emergence of another as in films too. Thus, in this broad
sense, it can be said that expressions invoke background knowledge as the very
basis for the process of comprehension. For example one can take the sentence
‘I want to put the canned tuna on the top rack of the refrigerator.’
Presupposed knowledge comes into play in this case. Although it seems that the
information is too explicit, the interpretation lies in the cultural knowledge
pertaining to food storage and refrigerator organization. If this knowledge is
absent, one might go on to interpret that it is needed to take out the tuna from
the can first and then kept on the rack and the can should be placed somewhere
else or so on. At the same time, the basic knowledge of our physical world as
we experience it is very important for comprehension. In case of films too one
needs to understand the cultural context or the comprehensive process might
remain faulty or incomplete.
In the same way,
the source domain of a metaphor has a kind of precedence vis-à-vis the target
domain. The source domain provides a conceptual background in terms of which
the target domain is comprehended and the source domain is more directly
anchored in bodily experience. The spectator views the target against this
background. Thus, the blended space comes into play which is a hybrid domain
and the source and target domains jointly constitute the background from which
the blended conception emerges.
At each step of
cognition, the current expression is constructed and interpreted against the
background of those that have happened before. The prior events are very important
determinant (together with context, background knowledge, etc.) of something
which can be termed as the current discourse space (CDS). This CDS is actually
a mental space which comprises everything presumed to be shared by the
characters on the screen during the movie and the spectator as the basis for
discourse at a given point of time. Having its inception from that basis, every
successive event shown in the movie updates the CDS in some way.