Why Do I Love Metaphor?
I never metaphor I didn’t like. Mardy Grothe
I admit I have a partiality for metaphor in my writing. In my blog, “Metaphor As Method”, written April 28, 2015, the opening quote explains metaphor: It is easier to think about something when thinking about something else, than it is to think about a thing when trying to think about it, Erasmus G. Addlepate.
Metaphors have been an important part of counseling and therapy for many years. They are also popular in literature with authors and with reporters, especially sports writers. I believe they are a useful, practical method for gaining increased self-understanding. And a benefit when deciding. Why do I love metaphor? Let me count the ways:
- Metaphor always involves a sense of paradox and the absurd because it invites us to think in ways that are patently false. (“Life is a bowl of cherries.”)
- Metaphor can generate ways of thinking that are novel and revealing.
- Metaphors are not directly logical, so it is hard to continue to think logically.
- Metaphor requires its users to find or create meaning.
In my workshops (years ago) I asked people to share the metaphor of their life. I heard hundreds of personal metaphors, and I regret that I never recorded them. I could have written a book about personal metaphors. My metaphor then was rafting down a river. It would be different now, because my river is different. Do you have a life metaphor?
My first blog in 2012, “I Really Don’t Know Life At All; Confessions From An Older And Wiser Counseling Psychologist” included metaphor, relating to Joni Mitchell’s lyrics of Both Sides Now, I really don’t know clouds at all. This reminded me of two metaphoric categories of the world, clocks and clouds, by philosopher/scientist Karl Popper. Clocks are neat, orderly systems that can be solved through reduction; clouds are an epistemic mess, highly irregular, disorderly, and more or less unpredictable. Popper says it is a mistake to pretend everything is a clock that we can fix with our tools, because we live in a universe not of clocks but of clouds.
Our reality, is more like clouds, and it is interesting that Joni Mitchell’s I really don’t know clouds at all started my metaphoric blog writing. I was 85 years old at the time. Definitely older, maybe not “wiser” as I thought. In spite of my extensive educational background, and years of experience, what I have gained from living every day is anawareness of the entangled complexities of the reality in which I live. In 2012 I was willing to publicly admit: “It is life’s illusions I usually recall; I really don’t know life at all.”
Much of our reality is a confusing, cognitive mess; highly irregular, disorderly, and not only more or less unpredictable, but also more often unknowable. You and I don’t know the clouds of reality at all. This all led me to my positive uncertainty, which involves a sense of paradox and can metaphorically generate ways of thinking that are part of my writing. Metaphor today is still my best ally and helps me blog.
Unless you are educated in metaphor, you are not safe to be let loose in the world. Robert Frost