Bricolage, iii

3 March 2012

They “found that illiterates had a ‘graphic-functional’ way of thinking that seemed to vanish as they were schooled. In naming colors, for example, literate people said ‘dark blue’ or ‘light yellow,’ but illiterates used metaphorical names like ‘liver,’ ‘peach,’ ‘decayed teeth,’ and ‘cotton in bloom.’”

Because I was born into ongoing falsehood,
I have had to learn to think in metaphors . . .
Richard Hoffman

Metaphor is the juxtaposition of disparate elements of the world in which an unsuspected commonality, an illuminating partial likeness, has been discovered, and the more unlikely the juxtaposition, the greater the consequent sensation of the unifying of the world; and so the range of a writer’s metaphor is a measure of the range of his cognition.

Anger is better, as pomegranates are. Andrea of Hungary [IV.v.33]

“An essay is like a glass of water. Dip a spoon into that glass of water and scoop some of it out and hold it over a hot frying pan so that a few drops fall & sizzle & quickly disappear. That’s a poem.”
The Anthologist

My father said, “When in doubt, castle.”

Catachresis: A metaphor that’s become part of common everyday speech & is no longer perceived as a metaphor (bottleneck, eye of a needle).
The Savage Detectives

“violet-flavoured nightmare”: Cheever, of Nabokov’s Pale Fire

“a tint between the colour of an old fence and that of a low cloud”:
Nabokov, of Chekhov’s prose

Da steht der Tod, ein bläucher Absud
And here stands death, a bluish distillate
in einer Tasse ohne Untersatz
in a cup without a saucer

These are the youths that thunder at a playhouse
and fight for bitten apples.
Henry VIII

The most popular fourteenth-century literary genre, sometimes composed in Old Uzbek, was epistolary poetry. Poems during this period took the form of love letters between nightingales and sheep, between opium and wine, between red and green . . .

“As you can see, madam, words are getting staler and staler… idiots have used them like so many wheelbarrows… loaded them up with all kinds of idiotic confessions, with all these ideas, each more stupid than the last… in short, with what people call messages.”

There are those who grow
gardens in their heads
paths lead from their hair
to sunny and white cities

it’s easy for them to write
they close their eyes
immediately schools of images
stream down from their foreheads

my imagination
is a piece of board
my sole instrument
is a wooden stick

I strike the board
it answers me
no—no . . .
Zbiginew Herbert

“One morning I knew, finally, that lists of examples wouldn’t do any longer, but examples were all that I had. In that country they speak prose. And not only do they speak it, they live it. They didn’t ban poetry — they still encourage it, officially — but they did get rid of the insides of things, the interiors that poetry once, in another era before the fall, referred to. In that sense, they are like us.”
The Soul Thief

“TULIP, drum, camel, ladybug,
glass-blowing, genial arrogance,
Rubens, purple, eroticism as gourmandise,
zamindary, the Caliphate of the Umayyads, Haroun al-Raschid.”
— from “Het Erewhonisch Schetsboek” in Apple and Pears, Guy Davenport


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