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TL Murphy
December 16th, 2019, 07:55 AM
I'm picking up on Darkin's discussion of the concept of blue in Midnightpoet's thread on Narrative Poetry. It occurs to me that explaining "blue" to a blind man offers instruction on metaphor. Of course a blind man cannot see the colour blue but he can understand the concept of blue through association even though he doesn't know what colour is. He can understand that blue is a visual quality, even if he doesn't really comprehend what visual means. He knows what auditory means. So we can say that "blue" is to the sky as "whistle" is to the wind. You cannot hear blue and you cannot see whistle. But the wind whistles and the sky is blue. Blue is an inherent visual quality of the sky that we can perceive with our eyes in the same way that a whistle is an inherent quality of the wind that we can hear with our ears. Of course, the sky is not always blue. It might be cloudy. And the wind does not always whistle. The air could be still and silent or it might rage and roar. But given the right conditions, the sky will be blue and the wind will whistle. Of course the sky itself is not actually blue. We perceive the colour blue because of the way light is broken into spectrum and the part of the light that our eyes perceive through the filter of atmosphere is the blue end of the spectrum. Similarly, the wind does not actually whistle. What we hear is the sound produced by the friction of air moving through other air or through a constricted space. Nevertheless, it can be shown that, within a given context, blue sky is the same as whistling wind. Within this context, the whistle, which a blind person hears is a metaphor for blue, which a blind man cannot see but can comprehend as a concept through association with his experience of hearing the sound of wind.

Darren White
December 16th, 2019, 08:16 AM
Also, colours a blind person cannot see, or sounds deaf person cannot hear, are by these respective persons filled in in their own way. So it is not so important to explain. The same with metaphors, or with poems in general. People will fill in details according to their frame of reference, wherever that may stem from. Explaining colors breaks the metaphor, same as explaining the meaning of a poem.

Darkkin
December 16th, 2019, 01:13 PM
There are better contexts to the sky beyond blue. e.g. The sky akin to the face of an impetuous child shifts, its moods as weather for the world to see. Its peace, still and clear, nothing to mar its perfection. Joy vibrant ribbons of bright running through a vast cavern dark. While the storms, that omnious scowl...a twisted face before the eruption of chaotic rain. Or take touch a step further and couch things in terms of nature, the cool, still water of a forest pond, the softness of moss as it consumes a nurse log...You get the point. To effectively explain, readers need to draw a direct parallel to the context of themselves.

Faces are something entire the population possess, our expressions seen by others, but felt by their owners is a direct, contextual parallel for those unable to perceive or understand the concept of colour. Still, how many people are going to take the time to describe a phenomenon while taking a sensory deficit into account? It is out of the box thinking and a difficult concept for the majority of the 'normal' population. It is not something they are missing, so it is taken for granted, colours being simply there. A sensory deficency requires work arounds, but for those who find those bridges it can really help open up perspectives on one's surroundings. Just some thoughts...

- D.

PiP
December 16th, 2019, 01:51 PM
I'm picking up on Darkin's discussion of the concept of blue in Midnightpoet's thread on Narrative Poetry. It occurs to me that explaining "blue" to a blind man offers instruction on metaphor. Of course a blind man cannot see the colour blue but he can understand the concept of blue through association even though he doesn't know what colour is. He can understand that blue is a visual quality, even if he doesn't really comprehend what visual means. He knows what auditory means. So we can say that "blue" is to the sky as "whistle" is to the wind. You cannot hear blue and you cannot see whistle.

I am probably way off track here but surely trying to explain blue to a blind man is turning the abstract (like resonate) into something concrete. I don't understand why explaining blue to a blind man offers instruction on a metaphor, unless it refers to feeling 'blue' as in depressed or sad. In which case an auditory reference such as whistling wind, would not work (IMHO). There is no correlation between the two.

However, Blue, as sky, is only visible in the absence of clouds so you feel the warmth of sun on your skin, which makes you feel happy. So I would take this feeling and ask the blind person to imagine a world without the warmth on their skin (sun) as in grey, damp days.

TL Murphy
December 16th, 2019, 05:00 PM
Darkin, your first paragraph is a poem in itself. Just remove the first and last sentences and I think you have it

The sky akin to the face of an impetuous child shifts,
its moods as weather for the world to see.
Its peace, still and clear, nothing to mar its perfection.
Joy vibrant ribbons of bright
running through a vast cavern dark.
While the storms, that omnious scowl...
a twisted face before the eruption of rain.
Or take touch further
and couch things in nature,
the cool, still water of a forest pond,
the softness of moss
as it consumes a nurse log.

My point about explaining blue to a blind man is not that a blind man needs blue explained or that we should all stretch our imaginations to express the impossible... it’s a exercise in explaining the idea of metaphor, which apparently, some people can’t understand.

Carol, the point is to make associations using tactile elements in our world that are so familiar to us that we take their meaning for granted. We internalize the idea of blue as we do a stone or a leaf. We can then use the idea, of something we feel innately familiar with, to show parallels with something we can’t understand. For instance, we might express love as “a soft touch.” Of course love is a much greater concept than mere touch. So great, in fact, that it’s impossible to wrap our head around it. But we know what a soft touch is and we know what it feels like emotionally when someone we love caresses us. We know that feeling to be love, or at least one aspect of love. So we can express love through the metaphor of touch but there has to be a poem around it to build the context. so that when the word “touch” appears, we recognize love.

In the same way, even though you can’t see the wind and you can’t hear blue, for someone who cannot see or even understand what it means to see, we can appeal to another tactile sense that he implicitly understands and show that sight is like sound and that colour is like a noise. In this way we can substitute a noise for a colour. The blind person can associate a noise that he does understand with a colour that he can’t understand.

PiP
December 22nd, 2019, 10:54 PM
In the same way, even though you can’t see the wind and you can’t hear blue, for someone who cannot see or even understand what it means to see, we can appeal to another tactile sense that he implicitly understands and show that sight is like sound and that colour is like a noise. In this way we can substitute a noise for a colour. The blind person can associate a noise that he does understand with a colour that he can’t understand.

Tim, circling back to this . I understand to a point but why sound and not touch? Red is hot to touch, blue is warm to the skin, brown is earth, white is snow, green is a leaf etc I can't get my brain around colours in relation to sound....

TL Murphy
December 23rd, 2019, 07:26 AM
There is no reason that touch could not also be a metaphor. One metaphor does not rule out another. It's not as if there is only one metaphor for blue. Context makes the metaphor, not the object (or sensation) itself. If you can wrap your head around the idea that everything is connected, then anything can be a metaphor for anything. The trick is to create an association in the reader's mind. But a metaphor is not like a mechanical equation. It's not like A = B or 2+2=4. I mean, it can be that simple but more often it's like A = a feeling I can almost grasp.

But I would not say that blue is warm, I would say it is cold. Blue is the cold end of the light spectrum. Cold is to ice what blue is to sky.

Darkkin
December 23rd, 2019, 12:45 PM
It has to be a logical allegory...like the hinge joint on a door or a knee. Eeyore as the physical personification of depression because of his characterisation...Piglet as a page of innocence. Trait becomes archetype. The conguencies need to be more than they are both a species of fruit. Well look at a strawberry and the budda hand. Both are fruit so they are alike right?

TL Murphy
December 23rd, 2019, 07:32 PM
Darkkin, it is this fixation on “logic” that makes metaphor difficult for some to grasp. No, it doesn’t have to be logical. But it does have to fit within the context of the poem. That context is not necessarily logical. It can be surreal. It can be imagistic. It doesn’t have to be a-priori logic.

Here is an example from an excerpt of a poem by Gabriela M. title “The Blue City”


The moon hummed “Let’s fall in love in Spain…”
You said “Forever.”
I said “No, Conquistador. I will die on the streets of Morocco’s Blue City on the other side of the Mediterranean.”
Your green eyes sunk into a dense silence.
The moon stopped humming.
Your kiss came out of the sea.
It was blue.

I suppose you could say that a certain logic applies here because we think of the sea as blue. But the sea isn’t really blue. It just reflects the colour of the sky. The sea can be many colours. But I think this poem is highly metaphorical in its treatment of the colour blue. Not in the sense that this poem would describe “blue” to a blind man, but the colour blue here is used metaphorically to describe how the two people in the poem find a common feeling that is deeply uncomfortable to both of them. The association to the sea shows that this feeling, represented by the colour blue is so deep and so immense that it is beyond their control. The Blue City is a place of isolation without escape. The blue kiss is a painful recognition of truth.

Darkkin
December 23rd, 2019, 11:52 PM
The trait parallels are what make sense to my processing...and if there is not a correlation between object A and meaning B it sails directly over my head, making about as much sense as a raven to a writing desk. Fault in my brain wiring, but the congruencies are a personal requisite for me, not others.

clark
December 24th, 2019, 02:04 PM
When we try to extract 'meaning' or 'significance' or 'feeling' from within a metaphor, our primary tool is ASSOCIATION, not specific or assigned logic, and Association is possible only within context.. That I think is the analytical nexus weaving thru the recent posts primarily from Darkkin, Tim, Carole, and Midnight. Context provides the shape within which the two elements 'approach' each other, then fuse. Coming to terms with that 'fusion' is a comix of the reader's life experience + the concrete elements of the metaphor. In Darkkin's 'silly' example above, a reader who knew all about writing desks but had neither seen a raven nor ever seen the word before, would be at a significant disadvantage in dealing with the metaphor at all. They would not be dealing with the metaphor, they would be projecting THEIR values onto half the metaphor, and moving forward. CONTEXT will at least provide a field of operation for the reader's imagination.

PiP
December 24th, 2019, 04:23 PM
When we try to extract 'meaning' or 'significance' or 'feeling' from within a metaphor, our primary tool is ASSOCIATION, not specific or assigned logic, and Association is possible only within context..

,,,


Context provides the shape within which the two elements 'approach' each other, then fuse. Coming to terms with that 'fusion' is a comix of the reader's life experience + the concrete elements of the metaphor.

And this is why, when we show not tell, is probably the reason why we interpret metaphors in different ways?

clark
December 24th, 2019, 09:16 PM
I don't know that a reader "interprets" a metaphor so much as they "experience" or "feel" that it WORKS. The latter is holistic, the former cerebral. If 'cerebral" is too extreme, this 'awareness' certainly involves intellectual activity in the explaining of itself. Maybe it's a two-part process: 1)'being' WITHIN the metaphor in some way, some almost-visionary way that defies neat rational language . . .then 2) finding the language to explain where you just were, which is unexplainable. Hmm.

To project this thought forward a bit: I've contended elsewhere that the greatest gift humankind ever gave themselves, was language. Without it, NOTHING beyond picking fleas off each other and grunting around the fire would be possible. Metaphor stretches the traditional definitions of words. It expands ranges of meaning within its own terms and in the terms of reference of the reader's life experience. Example--I have certain expectations of the word "thought" as a cerebral activity: I know what 'shade' is in relation to, say, full sun; I have already developed a sense of the symbolic values traditionally attached to the colour "green". So I will never forget the reaction I went thru over these lines:


Meanwhile
[9] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Garden_(poem)#cite_note-9)
the Mind, from pleasure less,
Withdraws into its happiness:
The Mind, that Ocean where each kind
Does streight its own resemblance find;
[10] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Garden_(poem)#cite_note-10)

Yet it creates, transcending these,
Far other Worlds, and other Seas;
Annihilating all that's made
To a green Thought
[11] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Garden_(poem)#cite_note-11)
in a green Shade.
[ (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Garden_(poem)#cite_note-12)

S6, Andrew Marvell, "The Garden" (1681)

The stanza is an "Argument," building up to the last two lines, the Conclusion. My first reactions as a young student of literature, were a flood of feelings of familiarity and recognition of . . .whadda hell!. . .something, but I know it wasn't 'rational'. If fact, it wasn't anything that ever was before. And it made no sense. But it made perfect sense. It deals with 'thought' . . but it's way beyond thought. Much later in life, when I read Keats on Negative Capability, and his conviction that a poet was "Content to live with half-truths, uncertainties, and doubt" in his quest for the essence of an experience, did I understand that back then I had had an epiphany. And I understood that a poet's highest achievement was not to solve or unravel Mystery, but to accept that Mystery exists and to probe and capture it in words, KNOWING HE WOULD FAIL. For me, that was a very exciting moment.

Gumby
December 24th, 2019, 09:28 PM
I don't know that a reader "interprets" a metaphor so much as they "experience" or "feel" that it WORKS. The latter is holistic, the former cerebral. If 'cerebral" is too extreme, this 'awareness' certainly involves intellectual activity in the explaining of itself. Maybe it's a two-part process: 1)'being' WITHIN the metaphor in some way, some almost-visionary way that defies neat rational language . . .then 2) finding the language to explain where you just were, which is unexplainable. Hmm.

Well said. I know that I can't explain the connections or leaps, even to myself, at times. :) They just 'are'.

TL Murphy
December 25th, 2019, 06:35 AM
I don't know that a reader "interprets" a metaphor so much as they "experience" or "feel" that it WORKS. The latter is holistic, the former cerebral. If 'cerebral" is too extreme, this 'awareness' certainly involves intellectual activity in the explaining of itself. Maybe it's a two-part process: 1)'being' WITHIN the metaphor in some way, some almost-visionary way that defies neat rational language . . .then 2) finding the language to explain where you just were, which is unexplainable.


I agree, Clark. We (I) use the word 'interpret' rather loosely as a catch-all for anything that implies grasping or absorbing poetry or art. But 'interpretation' is intellectual and analytical as opposed to being intuitive or experiential. Metaphor works on a subliminal level. It slides beneath logic and, as you say, "defies rational language.' Metaphor communicates in a way that rational language cannot, or at least, where language alone is insufficient. it's interesting, that in poetry, language is the only form we have to work with. Therefore, if we want to express intuitive knowledge, we must go beyond the limits of language. Metaphor is one way of doing this by creating subconscious associations. That's why it is important not to explain metaphors in the poem. Expressing the metaphor rationally derails intuitive understanding, or kenning.

Pulse
January 22nd, 2020, 02:16 PM
This Does Not Make Sense

Art is often a solitary act.
Swap 'r' for 'c' and you're the artist
Blue can be a clue for those that see, but
let us not undermine the mystery.
Tact as well can go. No euphemism
nor synonym. You sense the world with touch
and I am often senseless to the feel.
Dismiss the thought I do not dare and yet
it's not just touch, nor is it only sight.

Communicate a springboard
to my understanding.

I want a whole new alphabet: a range
sounds new to ears, like 'bh' to to make me choke
when I attempt assumption and then bhoke
the eye that I may take for granted
but know more profoundly does not make the cut.

Darren White
January 22nd, 2020, 04:38 PM
The topic is moving out of the realm of Nuts & Bolts. I don't mind at all. But I would like to ask the mentors if they prefer me moving it to Poetry Discussions?

clark
January 22nd, 2020, 08:49 PM
Darren -- I agree with the move. This thread is wayyyyyyyyy beyond "Nuts and Bolts". Good call Lad!

Tirralirra
January 26th, 2020, 06:14 AM
But Katrina, no! Not a whole new language. I want to work with this limited one that we have in order to test and break its limitations, as so many of you are doing on this board in a way that both baffles and inspires one who has come from the classic rigours of pffa.

Pulse
January 26th, 2020, 10:42 AM
I don't visit poetry discussion but then would never have come to nuts and bolts had Darren not posted a link on a dfferent thread. I'll go back where I came from.

Tirralirra, Darren's poem mentioned braille, which already exists. There may be some reason why touch is favoured over sound. You're right; it's not a system that I need; it's the time and patience to understand. But I am not the testing type. Limitations are mine not my tongue's. You need way more than language to communicate.

SweetCake
March 29th, 2020, 10:10 PM
I have a brother that is blind, and I know someone else who is also blind. My friend asked me to describe pink for her. I answered with temperature and objects she knows (ex. A meadow and warm air.) I think that is the best approach to a question like this. For Blue I would say that it is like cool air at night. Things she knows and are comfortable with. You might also do sounds, this is just my unprofessional opinion! Thanks for your time, It is appreciated!

TL Murphy
March 29th, 2020, 11:32 PM
Thank you Sweet Cake. What you are talking about is exactly what I am trying to convey about metaphor, that we use familiar sensations or situations to create associations with abstract concepts in order to make the abstract more specific. “Explaining blue to a blind man” is a metaphor about metaphors.