Friday, September 08, 2006

The Role of Metaphors in Creativity

‘A theory of creativity is actually just a metaphor, a pool of ideas, a well of memories, a voice. The word ‘inspiration’ is a metaphor for creativity—a nice one, the ingoing of breath and spirit, breath and spirit both being ubiquitous, available with only the most minimal involuntary exertion, as natural as life itself. Some writers wrestle with their muses, wrest stories from them. Others imagine their brains working, hydraulic pumps or clockworks or computers. A metaphor is a way of capturing a feeling in words and creating is a feeling. I have sometimes imagined it literally as a feeling of the brain exerting itself as a muscle does. But all metaphors of creativity are both descriptive and prescriptive. A pool of ideas may run dry, a muse may desert, the mechanical brain may cease to work.’

--From Jane Smiley’s Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel


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