Thursday, March 6, 2008

Inept political metaphor of the day

From Joe Klein, writing for Time:

On the Friday before her resurrection, Hillary Clinton seemed exhausted, played out.
Yes, resurrection can mean "resurgence, revivial"; it need not refer to the dead rising. But the paragraph in which this sentence appears describes the "funereal" mood on a Clinton campaign plane, which strongly suggests the primary meaning of resurrection, whatever the writer's intent. So the metaphor fails: if the mood is "funereal" and there's a resurrection to come, you're dead, not "exhausted, played out."

But worse: for a thinking reader, theist or non-theist, there's something grotesque in the very idea of a sentence about the Friday before a politician's resurrection.

As the sign said, THINK.

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comments: 3

Lee said...

I disagree. A deliberate play on Good Friday (funereal mood) is not mixing metaphors - and why not, anyway, when it works? - but layering them (dead/exhausted) by use of multiple meanings, something I'm quite fond of trying.

Michael Leddy said...

I didn't say it's mixing metaphors, but I do think it's an inept metaphor. My intuition is that Klein wasn't thinking about the Good Friday overtone — thus my link to the IBM sign. His sentence is, for me, an example of what happens when a writer relies upon tired phrases instead of thought. In the same piece, Klein has Barack Obama developing fissures in his armor while jabbing and volleying. An armored boxer? A boxing tennis player?

Writing that really pursues the implications of a metaphor is something quite different, I'd say.

Lee said...

Yes, I apologise, my mistake about mixing metaphors; I thought that was what you were implying. Of course a 'resurrection phrase' is rather tired: no argument with you there!