as finely formed in their molecules as they are in their enormity

The best metaphors are extensible and fractal in nature. They are as finely formed in their molecules as they are in their enormity.

For example, the billions of people are like the Oort Cloud surrounding the sun that is Society. And it’s natural for the people out there to want promotion to the inner system, to want to be a comet, or an asteroid, or Jupiter. To want to be famous or important; to possess gravity.

The metaphor can be extended to the human soul-as-star, and the various organs and cells as the Oort Cloud clamoring for ascendance (or at least benign indifference). Then there are the cells nesting deep, with their own satellites, two layers below the sun. It’s a matryoshka down to its utter parts.

Metaphors are seldom perfect. The society-as-solar-system metaphor, for instance, strays in part because it’s not perfection to split Society and people apart, as the sun and the Oort Cloud are apart. But it’s still evocative to me, and maybe, by extension, others.

Some people yearn for a particular metaphor that explains everything to their satisfaction. Like religion, which makes many people feel warm and safe. The bible (and other religious guidebooks) is one resonant metaphor after another. That the stories and parables can still fire the imaginations of countless millions thousands of years later is incredible. What amazing stories to transcend the eons.

There are other people, though, who just like metaphors, and always more of them, and who don’t require the safety of perfection. I’m making a case that all Art, and a greater part of everything that we do, is a yearning for metaphor. To see what a thing represents. To see the similarities inherent among the things in the world.

It’s a yearning for communication, really. To share your world with others. How do I know that this tree (or a tree) means the same thing to me as it does to someone else? By likening it to some second thing, then searching for recognition in the eyes of others. In other words, by proposing a metaphor.

Enough of that. I have another celestial metaphor that compares stars and society:

Society is a star, but we don’t know what kind of star it is. It could be a yellow star, with a long and glorious arc. Or it could be a red giant, that is consuming raw materials at such an enormous rate that they’ll all be gone quickly. It could even be a thing which reaches for the heavens with a single-minded purpose: to continue to be. I mean, we as a civilization have the resources and the know-how to plan and build enormous rocketships to colonize other planets and systems, if we’re willing to accept enormous want and hardship to do it. We’re perfectly capable of it. Society could be a thing like that: a supernova that sprays bits of itself throughout its neighborhood.

There’s really no reason to think that is the way it is, and there’s really no reason to think society isn’t a red giant rapidly running out of fuel, given the evidence. But it is nice to think that there are other possibilities, given the metaphor.

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2 Responses to as finely formed in their molecules as they are in their enormity

  1. Drew Bixcube says:


    I really do give a shit about the Saints. I don’t know how much more clear I can be about this.

  2. mach∏ says:

    I’ve got your back, man. The Saints are practically the only reason I *do* give a shit about sports anymore. Pro basketball? Garbage. Pro baseball? Well, there’s the Giants, whom I wish well. Pro hockey? Please; it’s like Eric’s talking in some foreign language when he talks about it, eh? Eh? College football? Pass. College basketball? There’s UNC to root for, because I lived there as a kid. But I root for them from afar. If I watch a game of the NCAA tournament, it’ll be accidental. Stanford’s pretty good at several sports, but I could only be bothered to see 2 games the entire time I was there, and I can’t be bothered even to that meager extent anymore.

    But I do give a shit about the Saints, to almost an unhealthy degree.

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