I have been concerned for years with the metaphor – the poetic tool – the image with words! How an image with words allows for infinite interpretations. How the metaphor saves us from literal ‘truths’ and instead invites further ideas and wonderings which extend narratives and open stories. Poetry and storytelling are the language of creativity and curiosity – whenever we plan or dream or try to innovate we use figurative language: ‘it’s sort of like‘ – ‘picture this’ – ‘imagine if you will‘…
For several years now I have had a concept for a story I want to write that I have not yet properly begun. It is a story about shadows. These shadows do not yet have forms to which they are attached, they are on their own and waiting for their literal selves to grow from them… they are if you like the ideas or the imaginations that come before the reality has formed out of them.
In language, the metaphor is our imaginations attempt to start with the shadow…
Recently (in the last year) I came across this image:
I like this bit of magi.
The paper becomes the content written on it and sets fire to itself!
I also love the classic and very ancient imagery. Dragons or worms go back tens of thousands of years in mythology as do Krakens and sea monsters. They are older than most dominant religious dogmas. They say something about our very early attempts to picture fear and power and humanity – they are primal imaginations still powerfully relevant now.
The Imaginary foundation also produced this image:
I feel less passionate about the artwork of this image (it may be a little more cliche) but I still really appreciate what it encapsulates. The pages become alive…
Book sculptures are an example of this which I prefer… The pages are cut and folded and the metaphors rise as sculptures out of the cover. Here are some of my favourites:
I do love the wolf in the image above. Wolves speak of family for me. My wife has been dipping in and out of a book over a couple of years now called ‘women who run with wolves‘. In the last few years, my wife has increasingly become a wilder woman (which took some getting used to but I am now increasingly grateful to her for this ‘uncaging’) and I have 2 daughters Imogen and Wander (or Imagine and Wonder) and I hope they are all wild wolf women like their mum.
The butterflies are important too as they speak of Simon’s contemplation in Lord of the Flies. A bullied and marginalised child who would sneak away to watch the butterflies and contemplate fear. He was the only child able to face the beast and defeat it. His conversation with the pig’s head is one of my personally favourite metaphors.
Here is my attempt to capture it:
I’m not an accomplished artist, but this picture of Simon sitting, looking up at the pig’s head as he “struggles to express mankind’s essential illness” is a lasting image. He realises that the beast is in us and frees the head from the spike before climbing the mountain. It is entirely weak, desperate and lonely and fully heroic.
Here is Iron John:
The wild man, covered in hair – the colour of rusty metal. He lives below the lake, under the subconscious. He helps to recover the ‘gold’ lost through compliance and hurt. I have had to find him and am keen to journey with him more.
Much of the medieval and pre medieval imagery above is also interesting to me as the classic Percival myth about trying to find the grail seems so relevant to ‘finding out who you are’.
I’m sure more will follow…