Conceptual integration and the creation of news

The President gave a major speech on Wednesday, and TV news reacted. For every story there's a formula, whether earthquake, missing child, sex scandal or State of the Union, but this event was none of those. So the anchors reached into their bags and pulled out the mode that fit the best - campaign reporting. They covered the plan for victory in Iraq as a stump speech.

This is a very astute observation. What is of interest here, though, is the nature of the "formula". It might be called a narrative, frame or idealized cognitive model but what it basically does is provide a structure to a mental space (and I'm basically quoting Lakoff's Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things) which can then be blended (conceptually integrated) with other mental spaces (such as one structured by the actual experience of the speech) to produce a new (blended) space with its own structure.

Both these elements (the operations on the mental spaces and the structure of these spaces) still require quite a bit of investigation. Particularly some of the dynamics, feedback and how they work at a higher level of magnification (e.g. on the level of a group).

Another example of reported conceptual blending was given in another interview on the same programme:

Almost any political movement requires somebody to set down the line and set down talking points. And Bill Kristol and the Weekly Standard writers are very good at that. When George Bush and Dick Cheney faced an unprecedented situation after 9/11, the neoconservatives were there with a ready-made plan of what to do, and that plan involved an attack on Iraq.

This points to another important aspect of conceptual spaces and their blending, which is their ability (along with most other aspects of language and cognition) to be hypostasized, i.e. brought to our attention and discussed as an object of the world. Then it becomes subject to the same processes of structuring and blending. This (contrary to a common cliche) not a particularly interesting (and definitely not surprising) property but it can make things a bit confusing if we start thinking of framing and blending as a heuristic that is immune to its own processes. (That's why it makes sense to talk about metaphors for metaphor and models for models - there is nothing strange or special about this but it does require a bit of attention).