Monday, February 16, 2009

All The World Loves A Metaphor

In my readings today, I came across a wonderful contrast in the use of metaphors. The first is PZ Myer's description of a paleontologist's article:

I cannot bear it any more. I have to make a secondary complaint about Conway Morris's piece. He seems to regard the English language as an axe murderer would a corpse: as an awkward obect that must be hacked into fragments, and the ragged chunks tossed into a rusty oil drum he calls an article. Continuity and flow are something that can be added after the fact, by pouring in a bag of quicklime. Unfortunately, one difference between the two is that Conway Morris will subsequently proudly display his handiwork in a newspaper, while the axe murderer at least has the decency to cart the grisly carnage off to the local landfill for anonymous and clandestine disposal. One can only hope that someday the paleontologist will perfect his emulation and take his work to the same conclusion.

Convergence, Schmonvergence

What a lovely, consistent, and devastating metaphor!

Then Dana Hunter reminded me why I'm not a fan of CSPAN:

I'm a writer. Of course I'm going to zero in on the violence done to the common metaphor (metaporus metaphorus):

Madam Speaker, I stand here today because Americans face a fork in the road. One side leads to socialism and the other path leads to freedom. This nonstimulus bill is the road to socialism. It will give us a journey that includes bureaucratic controls, high taxes, government intervention, Cuba-style medicine and economic collapse of America. This steam roller of socialism is being shoved down our throats and it will strangle our economy. This porkulus bill has a few decent provisions in it but is mostly filled with mystery meat. Rancid meat. Like the millions for plug-in government cars and millions for mouse restoration, that will ruin the entire meal. The captivating rhetoric about openness and transparency is providing cover for the rancid meat.

(Excuse me. I seem to have fallen to the floor laughing, and I can't get up. Uno momento, por favor.)

What is it with Republicons and their inability to put together a coherent English sentence? They seems to have a disproportionate number of utter nimrods who, when called upon to speak with clarity and passion, end up with an incomprehensible babble in which only a few debunked talking points make it out alive, and then only just. It's pathetic.

Broun's metaphor isn't merely mixed. He seems to have dunked his hand in a bag of words, pulled a fistful out at random, dumped them in a blender, and set it to puree. We're left with the image of a rather large piece of road-building equipment with hands attempting to throttle the American economy whilst being energetically shoved down our collective throats by, one can only assume, a team of sumo wrestlers on steroids. Bring me the artist who can paint that, and I may just take up a second job to pay him for it. Such a painter would earn a place right alongside Picasso and Dali.

Cons Who Failed English 101

Unless it's for comic effect, I never try to mix metaphors. I hadn't even heard of this Rep. Broun before. I doubt I'll be hearing much of him in the future, unless Dana or Kagro X, who wrote the original article, decide to make his verbal flatulence a regular feature.

I sometimes suspect that congresspeople speak this way on purpose, so that no one can stand to keep watching them do what they do. It's hard to imagine that a scientist, however bright and communicative, could outdo someone who supposedly makes his living by communicating his thoughts to others. And yet, PZ wiped the floor with this clown.

1 comment:

Dana Hunter said...

Nice! I'd read PZ's missive (o' course) but hadn't thought to juxtapose his glorious metaphor with the clunker from Broun. This goes to show why I rely upon my Thinking Brain Dog. ;-)