Thursday, April 9, 2009

Pained Metaphors

Sometimes metaphors are painful because they are mixed, tortured, over-used, or overly elaborate. Like when a metaphor has as many references as there are characters on "Heroes," basically throwing in everything but the kitchen sink, then putting it all in a blender, followed by a trash compactor, and then dumping it all into landfill.

Get my drift? Maybe not. You may have lost your way upon those tortuous metaphoric paths. Metaphors should not distract from what is written about-- they should serve to illuminate ideas and make them clearer.

Packing in too much can cause the reader's mind to wander away from your point. In other instances of a metaphor gone wrong, the timing of the metaphor is just bad. So is the case with the current issue of the New Yorker (April 13, 2009). I opened it up to the first section, Talk of the Town. George Packer's Comment starts off the magazine with:

Another week, another earthquake.

My mind immediately went to Italy and the devastating quake that rocked the town of L'Aquila, outside of Rome, on Monday.

But no, Packer crafted this pre-Rome, and goes on in the column to talk about the new financial crises that President Obama is rocked with each week. The automobile industry takeover being the latest example.

I can't really absorb it though because I am still thinking about earthquakes, collapsing building, and post-natural disaster despair around the world. Whoops.

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