Food for Thought – James Geary’s Metaphor

Food for Thought – James Geary’s Metaphor

Visual metaphor is not only the staple of advertising but the backbone of all art.  James Geary points out in his TED presentation (embedded) that metaphor is when we perceive X = Y.  Analogy is a close cousin but its equation has no equal sign only an implied one.  Though, in our struggle to understand visual abstractions, I believe we search for metaphor rather than analogy.  We adore closure.

“That is, with visual metaphors, the image-maker proposes food for thought without stating any determinate proposition.  It is the task of the viewer to use the image for insight.”
(Noël Carroll, “Visual Metaphor,” in Beyond Aesthetics. Cambridge Univ. Press, 2001 via About.com)

All art is abstract albeit some more than others. Once we accept this (and all sane people do) a metaphor is attached; it’s how sense is made of conceptual form.  This shape is your sister but that is a house; your sister is not a house – that would be analogy.  It then becomes obvious that visual metaphors also link to feeling.

A well executed visual metaphor leads the viewer without providing a conclusion.  Providing a conclusion turns art to pure craft.  Elegance turns trite when all visual clues are familiar and no interpretation is possible beyond that provided by the artist.

James Geary.com

James Geary’s Blog

[Biography via Wikipedia]

James Geary is an American-born, London-based writer and the former Europe editor of Time.[1][2]

His most recent book is Geary’s Guide to the World’s Great Aphorists which he claims to be the largest collection of aphorisms in the English language, and follows on from his previous volume on aphorists and aphorisms, The World in a Phrase (published in the UK – but now out of print – as We Are What We Think). The World in a Phrase has also been published in Brazilian Portuguese – as O Mundo em una Frase – as well as Korean.

Previous literary efforts include a popular science book called The Body Electric, a survey of cybernetic projects attempting to replace or enhance human biological senses (also published in Spain as El Cuerpo Electrónico[3], and two much earlier books of poetry written while he was a student in San Francisco, 17 Reasons Why and Words for Refrigerator Doors.

Geary publishes a blog about aphorisms, “All Aphorisms, All The Time”, via his website.He is also a regular speaker at literary festivals[4] where he gives a largely unscripted lecture on aphorisms which includes his juggling routine.

Among his journalistic credits, apart from his work at Time, Geary is Editor at Large for Ode magazine[5] and writes online for The Huffington Post, Salon.com and the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc’s Newsletter.

Art, emotional, fine art, Visual Metaphor

One Response to “Food for Thought – James Geary’s Metaphor”

  1. Anonymus Anonymous Says:

    Searching for “James Geary sucks” on Google can prove quite revealing to the uninitiated…


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