The power of metaphors

Metaphors offer clarity, a way of seeing old things in a new way. This is true of writing as well as in life.

On Writing by Stephen King
On Writing

When it’s on target, a simile delights us in much the same way meeting an old friend in a crowd of strangers does. By comparing two seemingly unrelated objects—a restaurant bar and a cave, a mirror and a mirage—we are sometimes able to see an old thing in a new and vivid way. Even if the result is mere clarity instead of beauty, I think writer and reader are participating together in a kind of miracle. Maybe that’s drawing it a little strong, but yeah—it’s what I believe.’

Stephen King. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

‘Metaphors are not simply logical, linear forms of verbal behavior: they are more like pictures. The point of the ACT metaphors is often hard to capture in a simple moral or verbal conclusion. Instead, metaphors present a picture of how things work in a given domain. Carefully presented metaphors can be a kind of experiential exercise—as if one had actually experienced the described event or story. The event is verbal, and thus the experiences are derived and not direct, but the impact of the talk is still more experiential because the talk used is not linear, analytic, or proscriptive. This is advantageous inasmuch as ACT is attempting to ground client action in the direct experience of contingencies and in rules that track those contingencies. Metaphors help set a social/verbal context in which overreliance on rationality is questioned and where the wisdom of directly experienced contingencies is more highly valued.’

Steven C. Hayes, Kirk D. Strosahl, Kelly G. Wilson. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: An Experiential Approach to Behavior Change

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