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Metaphors and the Power of Suggestion

January 16th, 2012 by admin

Metaphors are autumn leaves of the mind, changing the color of our thoughts. Ok, so that one was a bit tacky, but good metaphors indeed have a strong suggestive ability. Ever heard the proverb, “a picture is worth a thousand words?” Well, metaphors kind of work like that. They define something unfamiliar through the image of something familiar, or can create a deeper understanding by comparing two familiar images.
Take the famous metaphor, “Memory is a crazy woman that hoards colored rags and throws away food” from Austin O’Malley’s Keystone’s of Thought. Compare this to saying something like, “memory is flawed by unreasonable favoritism.” Which one of these stikes you as more memorable? Which one of these is more enjoyable to hear? I would say that O’Malley’s metaphor is much less abrasive sounding, and much more stimulating because of the image it envokes.
Both quotes were saying the same thing, the metaphor was just more suggestive of it. When you present a factual statement, it can seem abrubt and forceful. This is good when you want to stimulate debate, but people are more likely to simply agree with something that is pleasurable to hear – hence the power of music. Metaphors are extremely powerful in this sense, not only can they say a lot through their imagery, they can say it in an entertaining and agreeable way.

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