Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Etymology of a Metaphor


If I think about the tree—like any other verdant metaphor—it runs deep into my mind with its roots.

I say this all because I know the tree in Winter is a tree. This tree is not a metaphor.

Rather the Platonic Form of Tree lends itself to metaphor quite nicely, which is what the Theory of Forms seems to be all about. Plato’s Tree is rich with meaning, because it appeals to our senses and our entire conceptual framework.

Right now, this tree does not look like it did in the summer. Because it is naked.

Why did I say naked? Bereft of clothing is only the beginning and you should be wondering why I said bereft and not liberated. The tree would only have shame if I projected it upon the tree. I usually prefer taking off all my clothes in Summer, so the projection of luxe, calme volupté won’t work either.

Even the act of projecting is a metaphor, because I am not throwing anything forward… but then again, do I even consider the etymology of project (pro=forward + ject, from iactus= throw) when I use the word? No. Something else is going on, a shortcut. which is another…. Well, you get the idea now.

There is the idea of multiplicity. In my metaphor of the Winter tree, I can think of the absent leaves, or the many branches and apply these to the vagaries of life. Because life is less of a journey, no matter what psychologists, Hollywood, and creative writing teachers tell us. Rather it is a wandering. Vagary comes from the same language as vague: id est when I stroll, ramble or wander around in Latin, vago.

But I am forgetting myself (and the tree) in multiplicities. That is more-than-one. Mathematicians may argue with me, but this distinction is crucial. More-than-one does not mean much until we really stop to think about it. When one is being chased by more-than-one wolf, one is not concerned about the neurological-mental structure that allows for more-than-one. One isn’t even really thinking that wolf is still important and ancient enough to be inflected in English when there is more than one. Especially when they are chasing you.

Of multiplicities and branching thoughts and axons, I can only say that it keeps me from thinking about the Next Year. Another concept I hold in contempt when I don’t really want to think about it, which of course, I am.

There are many ways I could go with this. This tree—which is beautiful and has been growing here longer than I have been on this earth—may very well be pulled down by developers. Another reason to leave Seattle, perhaps. And no, the words are not connected, save by paronomasia. But that still counts for something.

And there is always going to be some movement. Crossing the river we live in means just that (because prepositions are always misleading) and we ferry those things across that help us understand what life is like on the other bank. Or, to translate: metaphor, which carries the same meaning as translate.

And on and on it goes, growing into the glowing sky of the late tomorrow.

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