A Straight Shot of Politics

A blog from a gentleman of the Liberal political persuasion dedicated to right reason, clear thinking, cogent argument, and the public good.

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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

I have returned from darkness and quiet. I used to style myself as "Joe Claus", Santa Claus’ younger brother because that is what I still look like. I wrote my heart out about liberal politics until June of 2006, when all that could be said had been said. I wrote until I could write no more and I wrote what I best liked to read when I was young and hopeful: the short familiar essays in Engish and American periodicals of 50 to 100 years ago. The archetype of them were those of G.K. Chesterton, written in newspapers and gathered into numerous small books. I am ready to write them again. I am ready to write about life as seen by the impoverished, by the mentally ill, by the thirty years and more of American Buddhist converts, and by the sharp eyed people [so few now in number] with the watcher's disease, the people who watch and watch and watch. I am all of these.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Help! The Metaphors Are After Me!

One of the problems of writing in English is that vocabulary and turns of expression are too metaphor rich. You have to contend with not only the vampire metaphor rising from the dead and sounding silly ("He was carried away to the motel room by his passions."), you also have to contend with metaphor acting as a substitute for thought, as in the "theory of intelligent design" where metaphor masquerades as argument, whose only underpinnings, as far as I can see, are the opinion that the universe kind of looks that way.

Try to find an intelligent and comprehensive statement of the theory, clear enough be put to empirical and scientific test, and all you find is an anti-Darwin bogeyman.

Life, too, in this land of English metaphor, has a tendency, in retrospect, to align with your metaphors far too closely for comfort. It sometimes seems as if writing in English is a type of Ceremonial Magic practiced without a Magical Circle to protect the writer, and without a Triangle of Art to confine what the writer conjures forth. This is the psychic equivalent of doing electrical wiring without troubling to shut off the circuit breakers.

A few weeks back, I wrote this about Starbuck's Coffee Shops:

Starbuck's are everywhere, like tiny Blue consulates and embassies doing diplomatic business (with hip Blue music in the background) in the vast sea of Red.

Yes, I know I actually used a simile, not a metaphor, but you get the idea.

I went into Starbuck's today, and, lo and behold, on the table next to the comfy chairs were two green passports! I spied them with a Twilight Zone or an X-Files shudder. Upon closer examination, of course, they also proved to be metaphors, this time from the company itself.

They were books of laudatory aphorisms about the pleasures of what used to be called "service with a smile", an introduction and an initiation to the Order of the Green Apron, for the new Starbuck's employee.

But they were definitely metaphorical passports. I think I'd better start drawing Magical Circles around my computer desk.

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