Metaphorical Mash-Up

Disappointed listening to Melvyn Bragg’s recent In Our Time on Metaphor. Makes the introduction referring to metaphor being as old as story telling – earliest writings in Gilgamesh we hear – as well as being a topic of interest to modern “thinkers”, promising.

The contributors give us the benefit of their literary knowledge, though fail to make any distinction between simile (explicitly signalled as “like”), metaphor (metaphorically implicit), allegory (extended metaphor across a whole narrative), and meta-metaphor (counter-metaphor for dramatic effect within the extended allegory) … though they stumble across all of these in the process. And continuing the literary angle, take us into metaphorical treatise which enable politically incorrect (or unthinkable) narrative to be disguised for publication – Spenser, Swift etc … and later metaphysical and romantic poets, up to say, Blake.

But. Science as real truth, rejecting the metaphors of the romantics ! Pot and kettle. Dickens non-self-conscious reinvention (improvisation) of metaphor (eg in Bleak House). Reality as cliche, but no mention of memes ? Mythology as a “disease” of language – forgotten metaphor. In fact metaphor is fundamental to the relation between language and the world, not an embellishment of language. Only get to close the point in their closing remarks … the silo-ed literary view looking out at the rest of the thinking world.

Another massive opportunity missed to join up some dots Melvyn. Reality and truth the victims again.

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