Sunday, May 22, 2011


piers anthony is a fantastic writer and has a blog that he writes every month. he writes about everything and anything he wants to. i thought i would share with you what he wrote about metaphors.

"A column by David Brooks on a book by James Geary indicates that people use a metaphor every 10 to 25 words. A metaphor is a figure of speech wherein a term is applied to something it isn't, like “He's an ogre” or “The ship of state.”  It appears that metaphors in speech are like puns in Xanth: remove them and you impoverish it. Makes sense to me. As a writer I freely use metaphors, similes (he looks like an ogre; government moves like a ship) and other figures of speech. I'm all for it; communication would be pretty dull if we were limited to straight narration. Metaphors lend imagery to otherwise sodden expression. There's another: how can words be sodden? A marsh is sodden. But use of the word conjures a background image of trudging through a foot-soaking marsh rife with leaches, making it seem objectionable, and that's what I want. To make things seem prettier or uglier than they are, without actually saying so. It's an art. I did it when I referred to a female publisher who had attacked me as having foam at her muzzle. I didn't actually call her a rabid bitch (which is another metaphor), but I suspect the message got through, thanks to the unsubtle metaphor. The traditional portrayals of the major American political parties are metaphors: the donkey and the elephant. So when I note how Pinocchio’s nose grew every time he told a lie, establishing the principle, I'm not actually saying anything directly when I remark on just how long the elephant's nose has gotten. So why should Republicans get mad? Just because I'm a liberal commenting on a well-known property of the elephant, nothing personal. Ah, metaphors..."

No comments: