E.G. (elainegrey) wrote,

Observation without metaphor: pre-dawn air

In a recent New York Times "Smarter Living" column, [You’re Not Paying Attention, but You Really Should Be:
How to actually notice the world around you.
], the author relates advice from Rob Walker, author of “The Art of Noticing.”

Another of my favorite tactics Mr. Walker suggests: Record 10 metaphor-free observations about the world this week. This is deceptively simplistic: Who couldn’t look at 10 things this week and write them down? The trick is the no metaphors hook. You’re just noticing, not comparing, analyzing or referencing. You’re forced to slow down and truly contemplate the world around you, rather than passively breezing through it.

I'm not sure this is a practice i need, but i am curious. Metaphor only or also simile?

I stepped out in the pre-dawn air, following a barking Carrie Dog. She had been awakened by something -- I assume some vehicle coming or going along the dirt road across from our driveway. The air was cooler than inside, fresh, dry. Cassiopeia shone over the house, moonlight shimmered through the trees. It made me realize the hot months may be about half over (assuming September brings relief).

Which didn't seem that hard, although i suspect "fresh" was once upon a time a metaphor. The word began as Old English fersc ‘not salt, fit for drinking’, per the Apple dictionary, and the metaphorical use broadened its definition. Since the fifth definition begins with "(of the wind)" i don't think it's currently a metaphor.

I don't think i have a problem with noticing the world around me. I am a little blind to people's appearance and voices, i guess, though.

I suppose noticing voices could lead to metaphor. Would "gravelly" count as a metaphor at this point? Dictionary definition gives, "(of a voice) deep and rough-sounding." I looked up "rough" because that seemed to be metaphorical applied to sound, and got "(of a voice) harsh and rasping." Well, "rasping" really must be a metaphor, but the dictionary definition is "harsh-sounding and unpleasant; grating: his cracked, rasping voice narrates the story."

When does a metaphor stop being a metaphor? The technical terms for insect antennae come to mind. Off the top of my head some of the Latin terms used mean club-like, feather-like, comb-like, and like a string of beads. [here] Well, these are similes.

I appreciate that the practice is to stop one from putting an experience in a bucket defined by a familiar experience (metaphorically!) and focus on the present, actual experience. By excluding metaphor (and simile? Why not simile?), presumably one needs to stop and notice the qualities.

But how often do non-creative-writers use metaphor to describe things (if we accept dictionary definitions such as fresh for wind and rough for voice?) Similes i would expect to be in frequent use: "They looked like a movie star, gardener, executive. "

Must stop thinking about this.

I'm taking a class today on persuasion and have 3 points to ponder
1. When was the last time your mind was changed by an argument? It might not happen often, so have a think. How did the other person change your view?

2. How do you normally try to convince people to your way of thinking? On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is “never,” how often are you successful at this?

3. When was the last time you were sold something that you didn’t really need? Chances are, there were some psychological tactics at play—what made you buy?

The second question is the easiest to answer: I don't do this frequently, and if i do it is with an appeal to reason. At work, in contexts where others are depending on my expertise, i generally don't have to persuade. It's collaborative work so disagreements tend to fade as the entire problem is examined. I think in this context, i feel quite successful: 9. At home, where preferences come into play (such as arranging furniture), i try hard to understand why we have a difference of opinion. Sometimes time helps with persuasion when a problem i predicted comes to pass and we then resolve it as i originally proposed. Again, generally it's collaborative problem solving, but convincing my spouse of the problem before it manifests is hard. 5?

I can't think of times i was sold something i don't need. I'm planning on coloring my hair, which i don't *need*, but no single person has persuaded me to do it. I avoid malls and big shopping stores, i'm aware of end-of-isle impulse buys in stores. I suppose i am most susceptible to buying extra when things are on sale -- but they aren't things i didn't need.

As far as having my mind changed by an argument, i feel my mind isn't so fixed. I believe people to be complicated, so when someone is advocating for a solution that worked for them, i can believe they are telling the truth without it challenging my sense of a solution that is working for me. The factors that make it right for them may not be factors i have in my situation. On the other hand, i am open to learning new ways of doing things: learning is all about having your mind changed. The most concrete experience i can think of has to do with judging the outcome of the Google book settlement's dismissal. I ran across a recent article that framed the dismissal as a disaster. It's not the belief i have at all. Just skimming the article and knowing someone i respect shared it, leads me to wonder about how well considered my current belief is.

I have a suspicion that my mental processes are far more fluid and flexible than average, so i don't think what works for me is necessarily going to work for others.


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