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Birch Bay Public Market

Friday, May 10 through the end of summer, Cathy and I will be selling her hand-made soaps, lotions, and toiletries, along with my photography, note cards, calenders, books, etc.

Come see us!

Across the street from the C Shop

4825 Alderson Road, Birch Bay, Washington 98230


I had an automated blogroll here, powered by Google Reader, but Google, in its near-infinite lack of wisdom, killed Google Reader. Prior to this murder, all I had to do to put a blog on my blogroll (or to take it off) was to place it in a Reader folder called, appropriately enough, "blogroll" (or, of course, to remove it). I use The Old Reader now for following blogs, but it seems to have no way to something similar regarding the blogroll. If you know of a way to do this, please let me know.

Inventing Metaphor

Every once in a while, the topic of an invented language comes up. Things like Esperanto and Lojban always get thrown around in these discussions. Claims like “Every word will have one meaning, and every meaning will have one word, and we will never misunderstand again!” Yay! Not.

I want a language with ambiguity. I want you to misunderstand me sometimes. I want a language where I can lead you astray. I want to be able to get to the end of the story and have you go “Hey, wait a minute! You said… Oh. No, you didn’t – I misunderstood.”

I want to be able to say “He is leather,” and to have you know exactly what I mean. And then, in the very next breath, to say “He is sharp as clouds,” and to have some part of your mind spend the rest of the story scratching its head and wondering what in the world just happened?

Metaphor, that’s what just happened. Metaphor followed by a reversed metaphor, to make you doubt the veracity of either. To make you study your own thoughts, your own ideas, your own truth. To make you examine the concepts by which you order your world.

I’d far rather strive for, and eventually reach, logic in a natural language than to struggle for, and never find, metaphor in an invented language.

Because metaphor is where truth lives.

4 comments to Inventing Metaphor

  • Amen to that Levi!!! Couldn’t have said it better myself. I’ve been devoting most of my time lately to the abstract flash fiction I write, and that’s what it’s all about. It’s all metaphor and what the hell just happened here? I find people who like reading flash generally tend to enjoy a bit of thinkery in their literature.

  • Pablo D'Stair

    Nice post, mate, I dig it, just had part of dialogue about much the same thing. Though on side note (because I like side notes) some mathematicians, really, they might be as far from metaphor as you think, or better said might not want to be or see value in being. Read Morris Kline’s Mathematics: The Loss of Certainty. Or who was it that explained the following mathematical construct thusly: “Two parallel lines, by their very nature, must travel their lengths always removed, never nearer nor farther than each other–yet still we might theorize that somewhere down a line of infinite length, horizon beyond horizon, that these lines will find a point of meeting where they can naturally touch and this we can call the perfect point”?

    • Pablo, my point isn’t that mathematicians are incapable of metaphor, but that mathematics is. The mathematicians must abandon math in favor of language in order to indulge in non-literal communications. Also, I’m pretty sure that no language ever “made up” by humans is going to be as logical and airtight as they might wish. After all, we did “make up” English, German, Russian, French, and so on, long before we ever made up Esperanto. :)