Very Like a WhaleOne thing that literature would be greatly the better forWould be a more restricted employment by authors of simile and metaphor.Authors of all races, be they Greeks, Romans, Teutons or Celts,Can'ts seem just to say that anything is the thing it is but haveto go out of their way to say that it is like something else.What foes it mean when we are toldThat the Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold?In the first place, George Gordon Byron had had enough experienceTo know that it probably wasn't just one Assyrian, it was a lotof Assyrians.However, as too many arguments are apt to induce apoplexy and thus hinder longevity,We'll let it pass as one Assyrian for the sake of brevity.Now then, this particular Assyrian, the one whose cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold,Just what does the poet mean when he says he came down like a wolfon the fold?In heaven and earth more than is dreamed of in our philosophy thereare a great many things,But i don't imagine that among then there is a wolf with purpleand gold cohorts or purple and gold anythings.No, no, Lord Byron, before I'll believe that this Assyrian was actually like a wolf I must have some kind of proof;Did he run on all fours and did he have a hairy tail and a big redmouth and big white teeth and did he say Woof woof?Frankly I think it very unlikely and all you were entitled to say,at the very most,Was that the Assyrian cohorts came down like a lot of Assyrian cohorts about to destroy the Hebrew host.But that wasn't fancy enough for Lord Byron, oh dear me no, he hadto invent a lot of figures of speech and then interpolatethem,With the result that whenever you mention Old Testament soldiersto people they say Oh yes, they're the ones that a lotof wolves dressed up in gold and purple ate them.That's the kind of thing that's being done all the time by poets,from Homer to Tennyson;They're always comparing ladies to lilies and veal to venison,And they always say things like that the snow is a white blanketafter a winter storm.Oh it is, is it, all right then, you sleep under a six-inch blanketof snow and I'll sleep under a half-inch blanket of unpoeticalblanket material and we'll see which one keeps warm,And after that maybe you'll begin to comprehend dimly,What I mean by too much metaphor and simile.
Ogden Nash
Hey - Duggie! Duggie! Duggie! He came running up to me, sparkler in hand. I felt like sticking one on him, the cheeky bastard. Nobody called me Duggie.He held the sparkler up in front of my face and said, Wait. Wait.I was already waiting. What else was there to do?Here you are, he said. Look! What's this?At that precise moment, his sparkler fizzled out. I didn't say anything, so he supplied the answer himself. The death of the socialist dream, he said.He giggled like a little maniac and stared at me for a second or two before running off and in that time I saw exactly the same thing I'd seen in Stubbs's eyes the day before. The same triumphalism, the same excitement, not because something new was being created, but because something was being destroyed. I thought about Phillip and his stupid rock symphony and I swear that my eyes pricked with tears. This ludicrous attempt to squeeze the history of the countless millennia into half an hour's worth of crappy riffs and chord changes suddenly seemed no more Quixotic than all the things my dad and his colleagues had been working towards for so long. A national health service, free to everyone who needed it. Redistribution of wealth through taxation. Equality of opportunity. Beautiful ideas, Dad, noble aspirations, just as there was the kernel of something beautiful in Philip's musical hodge-podge. But it was never going to happen. If there had ever been a time when it might have happened, that time was slipping away. The moment had passed. Goodbye to all that.Easy to be clever with hindsight, I know, but I was right, wasn't I? Look back on that night from the perspective of now, the closing weeks of the closing century of our second millennium - if the calendar of some esoteric and fast-disappearing religious sect counts for anything any more - and you have to admit that I was right. And so was Benjamin's brother, the little bastard, with his sparkler and his horrible grin and that nasty gleam of incipient victory in his twelve-year-old eyes. Goodbye to all that, he was saying. He'd worked it out already. He knew what the future held in store.' Club
Jonathan Coe
It is strange that people should talk so much about ending all war at a time when the ravages it causes are greater than they have ever been, not only because the means of destruction have been multiplied, but also because, as wars are no longer fought between comparatively small armies composed solely of professional soldiers, all the individuals on both sides are flung against each other indiscriminately, including those who are the least qualified for this kind of function. Here again is a striking example of modern confusion and it is truly portentous, for those who care to reflect upon it, that a 'mass uprising' or a 'general mobilization' should have come to be considered quite natural and that with very few exceptions the minds of all should have accepted the idea of an 'armed nation'. In this also can be seen an outcome of the belief in the power of numbers alone: it is in keeping with the quantitative character of modern civilization to set in motion enormous masses of combatants; and at the same time, egalitarianism also finds its expression here, as well as in systems such as 'compulsory education' and 'universal suffrage'. Let it be added that these generalized wars have only been made possible by another specifically modern phenomenon, that is, by the formation of 'nations' -a consequence on the one hand of the destruction of the feudal system and on the other of the disruption of the higher unity of medieval Christendom.
René Guénon