Monday, May 28, 2012

A Metaphor for our Time

"Reality is a cliche from which we escape by metaphor." -- Wallace Stevens, Adagia

And metaphor, as Stevens also knew, is the anti-cliche in which we capture reality. Metaphor brings together two disparate electrodes until meaning arcs between them with a light that burns and brightens.

A metaphor for the present crisis: Corporate capitalism has run off its rails, plowed across an open field and smashed into a suburban housing development, demolishing a swath of middle-class homes, but capitalism's ideologues stand idly by and insist, like good Brezhnev-era commissars, that the system is fundamentally sound. "What rails, comrade?" the CNBC apparatchik insists in his thick Boris Badinov accent, "Train is supposed to run on ground."

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