The serendipitous metaphor

The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor. It is the one thing that cannot be learned from others; it is also a sign of genius, since a good metaphor implies an eye for resemblance. – Aristotle

Thanks to @nimmypal on Twitter this morning for this quote.

I had a brief twitter conversation with my friend Alice MacGillivray over in Canada yesterday about how we thought Twitter might work as a tool of convergence as opposed to its accepted divergent capabilities. I thought it does this best when several tweets serendipitously cover similar ground and I then find it interesting to combine the thoughts in a kind of ‘tweet fusion’. Immediately an example appeared around our very own conversation   which at that point had moved to the role of  internet plumbers “connecting (which is good)  but also stopping leaks (which is bad) “, “Ahhh” Alice replied “the British perspective. All life is a metaphor”.

From that moment everything seemed to be metaphor related, the above quote from Nimmy and I point you towards a great posting by Benny Callaghan on 8 (non war) metaphors for building a better future.
I particularly like Benny’s suggestions of choreography, midwife and permaculture. My own personal favourites at the moment are nurturing, narrative landscape and entanglement.

Over at the INF@VIS website there is some really interesting examples of our use of the landscape metaphor which may have emerged because it is

 a natural mataphor for the human beings that have evolved in a spatial environment that required a knowledge of terrain and space in order to survive.

I bought the Lackoff and Johnson book ‘Metaphors we live by‘ last year but it languishes (do books languish?) at the bottom of my ever growing pile books I must read. I think I bought it because of this quote from tomsk77 who gives it 5 stars on Amazon

metaphors are not merely linguistic devices, they are conceptual. We don’t just use the ‘theories are buildings’ metaphor to get across our message, we actually think and act in those terms too

Finally if you missed it at the weekend John Naughton had an interesting column in the Observer about Metaphor is the new weapon in the ‘war’ upon terror.  in it he tells us that IARPA, A branch of the US intelligence service are financing a

Metaphor Programme that will exploit the fact that metaphors are pervasive in everyday talk and reveal the underlying beliefs and worldviews of members of a culture.

understanding how humans use metaphors might provide an efficient way of extracting meanings from messages.

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