when a metaphor runs wild

Be aware: some metaphors are a force of nature.
A metaphor, charged with numinous force can spread like wildfire until all is subsumed under it. Intoxicated, we may very well fall under its spell and, like lotus eaters, forget our home. Succumbing, we erect edifices in its name; forgetting, we fall into idol worship.

Recovering ourselves a bit, we consider: if we cling to it to claim its blessing; if we lock the door and refuse to allow it to depart as it will; if we take it dead serious, forget its metaphorical nature and take it literally; if we usurp its energy for egoic concern and chain our convictions to it to preserve the certainty of our vision, it will eventually turn on us. Its blessing will sour to a curse. Treated like a possession, it will possess. Trapped, its generativity will wither into a the trap of an undead, self-perpetuating pattern of thought, imagination and perception. It will imprison us, refusing to let us depart until we remember and release it back into the wild.

Sing, muse, a litany of the undead and we, their prisoners!

Nature as a resource to be managed and manipulated figures us as managers and manipulators of it and our own nature;

Space as a Cartesian grid and we as its cartographers and dwellers in uniform geometric space;

The universe as a network of cause and effect relations, a clockwork mechanism that figures us as scribes of its rational laws and subjects of its logic;

And psyche, offspring of such a universe, as an information processing machine and we as students of its laws and masters of its manipulation toward a normalized outcome.

Taking a metaphor literally drives it unconscious where it lives a life of its own dominating consciousness unawares like an autonomous complex. Running its course under these conditions it will run wild until spent then remain as an undead specter haunting our edifices and idols. Here remembrance is symptomatic. Our impending extinction insists we recollect we are of nature; one of her offspring among many, not her master. Alienation insists we recollect space as the dwelling of soul in which we are immersed. It moves us into a universe that holds as a whole in ways that exceed the grasp of reason and logic. It insists we honor the ways in which psyche defies the tyranny of reason, manipulation and normalization.

Remembering a living metaphor’s nature unmakes the mutual prison. The metaphor is free to lift, to be renewed or to depart and we are free to return home to its source.

When we embrace a metaphor that comes to call but do not cling;
When we offer it hospitality without locking the door;
When we play with it in earnest and remain flexible enough to suspend play, amend the rules or play something else, it can open and hold our imagining , our thought, our experience, our relationships, our work and play and even birth a world.

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