Wednesday, February 15, 2006

What's A Meta Phor?

DJ Spooky tells us that "music is always a metaphor. It's an open signifier, an invisible, utterly malleable material."

The best creative artists, writers, and comedians are experts at using metaphors to transport our view of the world to another location, another state of mind or psychogeographical space where we can make connections we had not thought of before, or if we did, are now reimagining with revitalized intensity.

What is the "utterly malleable material" a remixologist might use to hack the scripted reality being spoon-fed to us from the mainstream media? There's so much data out there that one needs to become very talented at operating in various "editing environments" (Spooky's term). But like Duchamp, a leading precursor to my surf-sample-manipulate theory, most remixologists intuitively realize that a lot of their potential source material is readymade and just needs to be selected (sampled) and then manipulated.

For example, the recent incident where the Vice-President of the United States of America shot a man in the face, chest, shoulders, etc. Is that good source material or what? Some might say that the laser-like focus of attention on this seemingly unfortunate incident, a private affair for a too private man given his role in the public arena, will soon pass. But that's highly unlikely given the METAPHOR.

There Is No Blog addresses the metaphor issue and leave it to The Daily Show to turn the metaphor into metadata and then turn the metadata into metafiction.
Jon Stewart: "I'm joined now by our own vice-presidential firearms mishap analyst, Rob Corddry. Rob, obviously a very unfortunate situation. How is the vice president handling it?

Rob Corddry: "Jon, tonight the vice president is standing by his decision to shoot Harry Wittington. According to the best intelligence available, there were quail hidden in the brush. Everyone believed at the time there were quail in the brush.

"And while the quail turned out to be a 78-year-old man, even knowing that today, Mr. Cheney insists he still would have shot Mr. Whittington in the face. He believes the world is a better place for his spreading buckshot throughout the entire region of Mr. Whittington's face."

Jon Stewart: "But why, Rob? If he had known Mr. Whittington was not a bird, why would he still have shot him?"

Rob Corddry: "Jon, in a post-9-11 world, the American people expect their leaders to be decisive. To not have shot his friend in the face would have sent a message to the quail that America is weak."
The video is here.

(An aside: whenever I am in Greece, I like the way they use the word "metaphor" to refer to a literal vehicle or mode of transportation. For example, the local bus is a metaphor. It gets you from here to there.

In addition to helping you transport yourself to other locations, metaphors also help layer the imagination with different strata of potential meaning. Some of this meaning is embedded in our associative thinking. Some of it manifests itself in our associative linking. This is when metaphor becomes experiential tagging.)

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