Metaphors are beacons for the mind. How to discover new ones? Creativity can't be bottled, but there are productive patterns, templates which may be worth using to jump-start the imagination. For instance, Z. A. Melzak (in Bypasses; A Simple Approach to Complexity, 1983) describes "kennings" --- particular types of metaphor from Norse and Anglo-Saxon poetry. He and other sources offer some classics:

The basic design principle of a kenning is the subtle suggestion of an analogy, by an outline of its shadow or a sketch of its edges. A ship crosses the sea as a stallion crosses the land --- that is, ship is to sea as stallion is to land, or more compactly "ship : sea :: stallion : land". So sea-stallion implies ship. Inverting the equation in various ways, land-ship means stallion, a stallion's sea is the land, and a ship's land is the sea. Some patterns work better than others. If "cow : grass :: car : gasoline", then grass is a cow's gasoline. (Saying that gasoline is a car's grass is more obscure. Grass has too many diverse meanings; gasoline is relatively specific.)

Some samples:

Besides being fun themselves, kennings may suggest escape routes from conventionality in diverse circumstances. For instance, in that last example the "turtle-house" pattern when inverted yields a cute term for a stay-at-home person: house-turtle!

Wednesday, November 17, 1999 at 06:38:31 (EST) = 1999-11-17

TopicWriting - TopicThinking

(correlates: CreativeDevices, DependentVariables, AugustAptorisms, ...)