Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Was I Wrong? Maaaaaybe

     Recently I got this comment on my tirade about simile and metaphor:
isn't a simile considered to be a type of metaphor.... at least that's what i remember from my poetry class.
I did a basic google search and a couple sites said that a simile was indeed a type of metaphor, but I don't really see any of them as any sort of definitive source. For instance and both hold this to be true, but I'd hardly call such sites esteemed sources. To solve this dilemma I figured I'd just go ask someone who's answer I would actually care about: Adam Bradley. This also gave me an excuse to tell him how his book is awesome. If you've never read "Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hip" I highly recommend it. Even if you don't like rap music, it'll make you look at it in a different light. Even if it still isn't your thing, it's always better to at least hold some respect for it and the people who do it, don't you think? Anyway, here is how Adam Bradley answered my question:
From a formal standpoint, the two rely upon a similar mental process (describing A by comparing it or otherwise associating it with B). That said, I wouldn't go so far as to say that simile is a type of metaphor. Rather, they both belong to a certain species of figurative language that also includes other figures like metonymy. So while your friend is right in suggesting that they aren't nearly as distinct from one another as our high school teachers would have us believe, they still have a difference that is worth respecting. To me, metaphors often have a more abstract quality to them--they require, after all, not just accepting that one thing is like another thing, but that one thing IS another thing. It's fun to tease the stuff out.
      Do I have a definitive answer? With different people telling me different things, I do not. What I do have, however, is what I wanted: clarification.

Moral: Similes and metaphors have an important difference that is worth mentioning. That, if anything, both similes and metaphors belong to a higher order of classification: figurative language.

Moral #2: Jesse spends way too much time putting research into his dumb blog entries.

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