Through the Crack in Consciousness: Nietzschean Metaphorizing

Or, on the Philia of Human Being 

Copyright © Giulia Marangoni

Copyright © Giulia Marangoni

Nietzsche creates metaphors with words and phrases the way the eyes create neural metaphors out of photons, and the way the brain creates cognitive metaphors out of neurochemical impulses received from optic nerves—phenomenological presence is translation, and more importantly, metaphorization.  Each emergent system—phenomena, nerve stimulation, perception, cognition, apperception, creative iteration—reflects the former, but intensifies the aesthetic experience despite being further removed from its source.  The information density compounds as if the image attains higher resolution through an imaginative folding process—association and interpretation—an accretion of redundant translations via various paths to the same location.  Think of it like finding more and more back roads between one location and another.  First there is point A and point B, and likely only one easily traversed path, or at least only one memory experience—the solitary seeming way.  But, as time wears on, new avenues of approach fill in through more and more acquired experience, so long as less efficient or more dangerous routes are taken.  Is there anything more feared than the unknown, more perilous in appearance?  Only a truncation of metacognition, Wanderlust; this is the act of stasis, keeping to the safety of familiar pathways, which cuts back the arbors of mental mapping.  Knowledge so bound retards development.

But, the undefined, the unknown, will crystallize into more and more facets of useful mapping through iterative engagement—the interpretive ecosystem grows.  Agency is self-creative.  Eventually, myriad relations between A and B provide the adventurer and aimless wanderer new possibilities for travel by combining and recombining segments of movement between each point for various reasons, as in say expediency versus safety, or to find an ice cream shop instead of something more vital.  The movement, however, remains between A and B, with focus swinging pendulum-like between them.  If a metaphor takes two things, like a word and an object or a word and an idea, and connects them by finding some common ground between them, then A binds to B and establishes a new relation.  Once bridged, the two previously exclusive entities tie estranged inner space coordinates into a line constellation that may then erupt into any number of other geometries, forms—toward generative apperception.

Metaphor models an experience of the world; it is not the world itself, though of the world and mirror-like in its reflection of the world.  Man is a metaphorical looking glass that finds his reflecting qualities most appealing when engaged in two-way reflectance: inward and outward.  Although, there is little choice in whether inner and outward are bound and bridged for man; inward is derived of outward, however seemingly distinct the organization of conscious matter may be.  A mirror must reflect what is in front of it, though it seems to deflect other reflections.  Nothing may be more difficult to do that to see the thing that shows everything but itself.  And yet, the reflection is almost more attractive when revealing others’ reflections, that hall of mirrors effect.  When the act of thinking becomes particularly profound though is when it can look both ways and turn around itself—a half-silvered revolving glass door.  It, like the others, contagiously catches what other mirrors have: anything that can be seen.  But, offer a way to see in, out, before, behind, around, and even manipulate light, that beam splitter turns into an active agent.  These florid plays may push the vow between two ends of such a metaphor close to their breaking points; however, I cannot say that I’ve ever heard of metaphor ending in divorce.  The lines between meaning and symbols seem self-healing.

What of the failure of metaphor to define or to clarify?  The oversimplification of language, perception, and cognition as “metaphor” may seem a bit reductive and perhaps unscientific, and having extracted it from “On Truth and Lies in an Extra-moral Sense,” the proposal should be quite unscientific unless the science is joyful.  There is little happiness in a dictionary, really only one and a few likenesses.  In poetry, in dance, in song, there is a joyful method of knowing though it cannot be easily defined.  The point then is that metaphor reveals more about mind than neurophysiology or neuroscience do.  Metaphor has certainly been around longer.  And while metaphors don’t explain, they do create, unite, attend; they rely on the things a word can but doesn’t usually mean to do.  Metaphors show what is below the surface of the dark abyss, where even white ice cannot be seen until it is too late.  Analysis may seem to chip away at integrity of a metaphor, but it doesn’t change the impact, which is aesthetic.  In truth, mind you this (truth) is a metaphor so don’t take it literally, there are but spider like webs of attention and awareness to bind that paltry consciousness to the body and its brain anyway, why not learn to dance on silken lines instead of waiting for something to bleed dry by analyzing it?  If language is metaphor, sense is metaphor, thought is metaphor, and truth is thus metaphor, it’s a wonder that the art of metaphorization isn’t more celebrated.  It is, after all, the only thing we can know—the experience of self finding itself as it looks through itself moving along.  If only there were a web spun of mirrors, crystalline faces like dew strung on lines light as light itself, the mind might find itself in need of more spring to dance beneath this near star as often as those beneath which we dream.

About thepoetsglass

Professor, poet, philosophical dilettante, plus some other impressively heady alliterations. Instructional designer and copywriter. Cognitive neuroscientist by night. Self-diagnosed coffee addict, sometime dancer, brooding bibliophile, and an always salty sailor.
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