Friday, April 19, 2013
A Whale of a Metaphor
He inky-pen harpooned the whale for seven months until he arrived at a metaphor in the form of nailing a gold coin to the mast that helped him complete it. Here is some of what he discovered:
"At last the metaphors were falling together...What nailed it fast was hammering the Spanish gold ounce to the mast. If I hadn't fastened on that for starters, the other metaphors...might not have surfaced...Well, the gold coin...is a very large symbol. It embodies all that the seaman want, along with what Ahab insanely desires above all...The men do not know it, but the sound they hear of the maul striking the coin's fastening nail is their sea-coffin lid being hammered flat shut."
I love that he shared his 'aha!' moment with us. What genius! Here is a quote from his website:
"I was born a collector of metaphors," he says. "Metaphors are the center of life." Here's the rest of the article, in case your interested: http://www.raybradbury.com/articles_book_mag.html.
I borrowed this quote from a much earlier post of Latayne's: "The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor. This alone cannot be imparted by another; it is the mark of genius, for to make good metaphors implies an eye for resemblance. –Aristotle, Poetics
Perhaps because I'm a visual learner, I tend to categorize metaphors as either small and functional - maybe even obvious - or big-picture, bone-structure scaffolding that adds layers of richness and depth. It probably takes a bit of genius to create that type of metaphor without being over the top or creating a caricature. I think Mr. Bradbury pulls it off quite well.
What about you, do you see metaphors in life? Do you employ them in your own writing, or know of an outstanding example that you could share with us?
P.S. I couldn't help sharing this from his website, too: "A second encounter with the entertainment industry came in 1961 when Bradbury was hired by MGM to write the narration for Orson Welles to speak in King of Kings. "It was fun to go back and narrate the entire life of Christ. They took my script and came back and said, 'We don't have an ending."' Bradbury laughs. "I said 'Really? Have you tried reading the Bible?"'