David Brooks, as a Metaphor

I don’t know how I missed this on Monday, but David Brooks, the NYT Op-ed columnist, discussed “I Is An Other” by James Geary, a fascinating book on metaphors, putting them under a verbal microscope as it were.  I think I want to get this book (it’s on KINDLE!).  There’s this bit:

When talking about relationships, we often use health metaphors. A friend might be involved in a sick relationship. Another might have a healthy marriage.

Instinctively my contrary minds want to think of a relationship metaphor that involves something unhealthy.  A twinkie.  Their love was like a twinkie.  Sweet, full of chemicals, able to last decades without going stale. 

I like this one bit from Brooks:

Most of us, when asked to stop and think about it, are by now aware of the pervasiveness of metaphorical thinking. But in the normal rush of events. we often see straight through metaphors, unaware of how they refract perceptions. So it’s probably important to pause once a month or so to pierce the illusion that we see the world directly. It’s good to pause to appreciate how flexible and tenuous our grip on reality actually is.

It made me think of metaphors from a writer’s perspective.  I always knew to use metaphor as a way to shape a character, to give the reader an insight into the way my peeps view the world.  However, I guess there’s a bit of flim-flammery in metaphors, too, an authorial sleight of hand to refract perceptions whichever I choose.  Fascinating.


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