Thursday, September 07, 2006

A Ton of Bricks

Why is it that writing in this age has to be full of bad metaphors in order to be considered good? Evidently something's own essence isn't enough. It has to be like something else, even if the comparison is ill-conceived.


Gopher said...

I don't believe it is just this day and age. I believe classic literature has tried to accomplish the same, but more successfully.

Now I believe writers try and equal that descriptive quality but fail to grasp how.

In the same way that poetry has become generalised. How many poets describe a morning sunset - it's easy to do - so is it still good poetry?

Nature's Rebel said...

As usual, you're onto my point. Metaphors are as old as Homer, who used them to unbelievable effect. Shakespeare, too, is chock-full of them. The metaphors are part of their style, obviously because they were so good with them. There are some great writers, such as Swift, who did not use them at all. Instead they sought the perfect word, the utter essence, the lightening rather than the lightening bug (Twain's metaphor, not mine).

The former, rather than the latter, appears to be the style of the day. And, of course, a lack of ability makes the metaphors ridiculous. Yet somehow this style is getting published all over the place. While thinking about it, I made a connection with the modern tendency to see the world idealistically rather than realistically, and then thought also about the horrible use of the word 'like' in common conversation, and I found the whole abusement of metaphor as a trendy writing style to be an appropriate metaphor for society as a whole. That's 'like' the deep joke of the post.

brainmarket said...
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brainmarket said...

I don't think bad metaphors make writing "good," but the technique does tend to make complex ideas more comprehensible to some. A recent example I encountered was the California Supreme Court's characterization of the anti-gang STEP Act as a "thicket of statutory construction." I am guilty too. My recent article criticizing the appellate courts' muddled interpretations of the STEP Act is entitled "Stuck in the Thicket."