Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The New Catalogue of Metaphors

A while back, I wrote in the L.A. Times:

What are metaphors for? Before finding fame as the 20th century's greatest compiler and theorist of weird news, not to mention one of its most audacious and influential autodidacts, Charles Fort (1849-1932) was a journalist and pulp-story writer who amassed inventive ways to describe one thing in terms of something else. Among the few to glimpse these scraps was no less a literary titan than Theodore Dreiser, who was Fort's early magazine editor and steadfast champion. Bowled over, Dreiser offered to buy the odd collection from Fort. "They are better than any thesaurus," he raved, "a new help to letters."

And...........this sort of demands to be its own blog, but I was thinking, why not set down, here, in the spirit of Fort, a New Catalogue of Metaphors? By which I also mean simple old great similes.

Let's kick it off with one from Russell Hoban's Turtle Diary:

1. The bench was empty, the square was green and vacant in the early light like one long uninflected vowel.

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Blogger Damion said...

Here's one! Proust, from On Reading:

"A tragedy by Racine, a volume of Saint-Simon’s memoirs, is like beautiful things which are made no longer. A little of the happiness we feel in walking around a city like Beaune, which preserves intact its 15th-Century hospital complete with well, wash-house, vault of painted and paneled timber, the roof with high gables pierced by dormer windows and crowned with delicate spikes of hammered iron—everything there that the age left behind, so to speak, when it disappeared; all the things that must have belonged to that age alone, since none of the ages that followed witnessed the birth of anything like them—we feel a little of that happiness again when we wander in a tragedy by Racine or a volume by Saint-Simon. It is likewise the living syntax of 17th-Century France—and in it vanished customs and turns of thought—that we love to find in Racine’s poetry. The forms themselves of this syntax, laid bare, honored, embellished by a chisel as sturdy as it is delicate, are what move us in his turns of phrase, colloquial to the point of strangeness and daring, whose abrupt pattern we see, in the sweetest and most touching passages, flash by like an arrow or turn back in beautiful broken lines. It is these bygone forms, taken from the very life of the past, that we go to see in the works of Racine, as though in an ancient city preserved intact."

6:54 PM  
Blogger Ed Park said...


9:01 PM  

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