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Saturday, August 2, 2014

Figures of Speech. By John von Daler

                     As the M.D. (Metaphor Doctor) pulled up at the margin in his brand new Statement 2014, a hand-made New Yorker vehicle, he took out his ipad and went over the details of the family he was to visit:

the father, a celebrity, the famous All the World's a Stage, married to a lesser known but exceptionally beautiful lady, She is as in a field a silken tent, the mother of their beautiful daughter. They lived in mysterious seclusion in a renovated almanac, hidden from public view, reputedly seeking the simple life among one and two-syllable words.
                It was their child who needed the M.D.'s attention. Little Dove of Peace had run at the age of four into one of life's unpleasant and upsetting revelations. On a trip through a bird book with animated pages she had witnessed the mating fight of two male doves. Now she had lost all faith in herself, her name, her values. No parent can stand seeing an existential collapse of such proportions in so small a child. On returning from the trip she had started repeating a disturbing mantra, "Dove of Peace, Dove of War, Dove of Peace, Dove of War..." until her parents in desperation had called the Editor and asked for help.
                The M.D. locked his Statement 2014 and jotted helter-skelter into the almanac, there being no real entrance as in an ordinary tome. The inhabitants' hippy ways seemed to have eliminated the formalities of ordinary middle-class life and the M.D. suddenly found himself standing in the middle of their opening paragraph, himself momentarily at a loss for words. When his eyes had grown accustomed to the dimmed lights of the preface, he could just make out the fabulous silhouette of the master of the domicile reclining on a pun in a dark corner.
                In a deep masculine whisper All the World's a Stage bade him draw up a hyphen and sit down. The lovely She is as in a field a silken tent, her dress floating weightlessly from the ties that bind, fluttered behind and around them, while she bore cups that runneth over and a piece of cake for the good M.D. As she hovered beside him, her flaxen hair floated gently in the air, caressing his cheek artlessly as she served him.
                "Mr. All the World's a Stage, " said the M.D. as he struggled to find a good position on the hyphen. "Please, just call me All," said the famous metaphor. "And call my wife She - even if that does give you pronominal difficulties," he added with the chuckle of a joke told many a time.
                "All", said the M.D. as he finally nestled back on the hyphen, fashioning a backrest out of a used exclamation point he found sticking out of an old book. "All, could I have a look at your daughter? From my point of view her momentary depression may be nothing worse than a touch of split infintives or perhaps the initial stages of a case of mixed metaphors. I need to see her with my own eyes, though."
                All motioned to She who hurried behind an old parenthesis in the back of the volume and moments later came out of the dark walking gingerly with her little girl in hand.
                Peace was a pale child. She wore a little white, cotton gown. Her shiny, white-blond hair flowed from behind and around one side of her tiny head onto her little shoulder. Her face, pale as it was, seemed even more colorless, since it was draped with the light, sinuous hair, and her dark eyes flashed from beneath her wan eyelids like two black onyx washed up on a white beach. M.D. found her utterly charming, but also mysterious. If she had been twenty years older he would have thrown himself at her bare feet.
                "Hello, Peace", he said, looking into her sparkling eyes, the depths of which seemed unpenetrable. "Peace," - he stretched out a hand, leaving it in the air like some fixture of which she, in case of a storm or a tidal wave, might avail herself as support. "It is not easy being a #metaphor." M.D. knew his subject, having rejected early on the more well-trodden career paths of verb conjugation and noun declination. His chosen field of expertise had seemed both more interesting and more limited. Now he knew almost everything you could know about metaphors and similies, both sick and healthy.
                The little girl did not reject his hand but did not take it either. She stood stalwartly before him, her feet planted, her eyes on his face: were he to try to plant the word of his God into her own little bible, then he would have to do that very, very convincingly to win her confidence.
                "You must never doubt the truth of your metaphor, but never either assume that it can be invoked in all situations. Leave the details in the murkiness and let the central meaning shine. He who points out unsuitable, hidden details must himself bear the responsibility for the interpretation. Yes, doves do fight, and thus are not necessarily peaceful, and so you must construct your life's story tightly and ingeniously so that peace may seem to be the only possibility for doves while war is ruled out for them. Live within that story and you will radiate peace in print just as you already shine with it in person."
                The M.D. stopped, thinking, Now I have again spoken too complexly for a child. How will she ever understand what I am trying to tell her?
                But the little girl let out a little sigh and reached out, taking his outstretched hand. She stepped toward him and looked up at him seriously.
                "I had reached the same conclusion before you arrived, and had been afraid that you might try to dissuade me, but now you have confirmed my thoughts. Good doctor, be not afraid because you love me. Such is the fate of those who understand the purest of metaphors. Never fear: I will hurl away my dark, unspoken side into the depths. Only good can befall me. The dark will never win out over me. I am sure to grow up to be a fine and sturdy #symbol."
                At these words her little gown floated gently into the air around her and the Dove of Peace, now a fluffy, white bird, let loose of the doctor's hand and rose gently from the floor, flying up to perch on a very long sentence out of "Light in August" which stood by the denouement, behind and above the three astonished literati. From her place on high she cooed softly, cocked her head and stared at them with her intense, dark eyes.
                "Now look what you have done," said All, just as the doctor reached out and with an expression of serene dignity turned the page and closed their book.

Perhaps you liked this little story.
Then probably you also will like my book.
This picture of a violinist says, Click me!


                 

               


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