30 July 2009

Posted by Zahid Hussain | File under : ,

Long before the typewriter, philosophers had charted the realm of poetry.

Over two thousand years ago Aristotle wrote:
"The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor. It is the one thing that cannot be learned from others; it is also a sign of genius, since a good metaphor implies an eye for resemblance."
Aristotle, De Poetica, 322 B.C.

It is true that a poem can come to life without a single metaphor, but with it...from the tiny serifs of letters, wings can sprout.

It's so simple to create metaphors, that it is a tragedy that so many can't. Yet, it is so difficult that it takes veritable genius to do it. But children see them everywhere.

How confusing, how contradictory.

A few weeks ago, I spent hours rifling through the pages of poetry manuals. I discovered that few chapters, nay few paragraphs, explained how to master metaphor. Was Aristotle right, that you can't learn how to give life to a new metaphor? That you either have it or you don't?

I think Aristotle was wrong.

You eyes are narrowing. You're asking me: "Oh yeah? How do you create metaphors then?"

You want to know how to crack open your the Pandora's Box that nestles in your head?
You want to fill the world with new creations?
Then come with me.
All you have to do is-


Look and keep looking until the object reminds you of...something else. And keep looking until you see...something else. And don't stop...keep looking until the world blurs and the object becomes a Stereogram. Not everyone has the knack of seeming them pesky things, but they're there alright, there at the edge of the world.

I tell you that those untouched, unknown, magnificent metaphors exist.

Dive, I say dive...go deep and keep going until you reach the solid and infinite home of imagination and grab hard- and come up fast, real fast before the blighters escape you and yank them out and let them breathe and when they do your metaphors will wail and they will keep wailing until they become cliches...

I promise.



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