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Posts Tagged ‘metaphor

The Boardinghouse Madrigals

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In our community drama group’s recent production of The Boardinghouse, I acted the role of Mr. Richards, a would-be novelist who becomes a would-be poet who then transforms into a would-be writer of political speeches. Always fashioning himself as a “creative artist.”

The perfect role for me to play, since the play’s Mr. Richards is such an abject failure at it. To play that part, I don’t even need to pretend very hard.

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Written by macheide

11 November 2014 at 5:46 pm

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Pure Imagination

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Just as metaphor is the language of poetry, so is image the vision of art.

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Written by macheide

12 October 2014 at 6:46 pm

Posted in Adrien

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Of Math and Metaphor

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I would be willing to throw away everything else but that: enthusiasm tamed by metaphor.

— Robert Frost, “Education by Poetry”

My best poetry prof and my best math prof well understood what often generated open amusement among my college friends: how my intense interest in math crossed wires with my obsessions over poetry. Not merely the double major of English and mathematics in which I got my degree, but how easily I merged those two into one. Math to them was rigid logic and dry formula and exacting number; poetry to them was dreamy allusion and raw beauty and boundless imagination. My math prof knew poetry way better than that, and my poetry prof knew math way better than that, so they taught well and guided me into deeper and fuller knowledge and expertise and understanding.

Enthusiasm, yes, that wild unknown that Rimbaud spoke of, Frost’s “sunset raving” as ongoing as the ever-setting sun! And taming that recalls the Little Prince’s fox, not “owned by” or “controlled by” or any of the other mean slurs by armchair critics who have never known the intimacy of bright spark touching soft flesh, but “tamed by” with a familiarity that could as well been expressed as “metaphor tamed by enthusiasm.”

And metaphor! Ah, sweet metaphor, the very word of creativity itself. Is it really so surprising that my favorite and easiest math courses involved complex variables (crossing the real with the imaginary), flew through Laplace transforms, dreamt so strangely through number theory (think Gödel), excelled at abstract algebra? Abstract algebra, there’s one for the uninformed masses to misread: isn’t abstraction supposed to be at odds with concrete, rigid algebra? No, not at all, and at no other college math course did I fly as high and as far as easily as I did with abstract algebra, which involves extension of algebraic concepts arising from the real number system to other, more generalized systems. Ummmm, as in what poetry knows and loves as metaphor, people. Math and poetry really do perform the same services and serve the same ends, people.

And like as mathematics is recognized as the language of all science, not just of math itself but also of physics and of chemistry and of biology and of astronomy and of all science, so too is metaphor the language of all art, not just of poetry but of art and of music and of dance and of all art. Like as the supposed scientist who ignores his math will never know his own science well enough to really discover or to experiment or to teach, because he does so without his language of math, so too is the artist or musician who disrespects metaphor unable to truly create or share or teach, because he does so without his language of metaphor. Think there’s anyone so unique as to have ever done their science well without having an appreciation of math or created any good art or music without respecting metaphor? Yeah, well, that’s like the heroin addict thinking he’s going to be the one exception to be successful at finding nirvana through his needle; as in, no such exception exists. As science breathes math, likewise art breathes metaphor.

Both my math and poetry college profs taught this, and both practiced what they taught in their own professions. Which was what made them so good at what they did, so effective at what they taught. And each one experienced their own and the other’s sunset raving, and each one spoke and heard the other’s language. Math and poetry are really not so separate. And I have always been willing to know no other teacher but one who is willing to throw away everything else but that: enthusiasm taming and tamed by metaphor.

//] - quotated

Written by macheide

22 July 2014 at 5:49 am

Posted in quotated

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