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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Mixed metaphors

Let's take a few sentences quoted the day before yesterday:
Culture is insular and molds its members so much that when they are steeped too heavily in it, the culture blinds them to all other things. Culture may be so engrained by the majority of members as to go unnoticed by them, but it will surely be reflected in the actions of new entrants and subversives who have not fully embraced the culture

There are too many implied metaphors packed into too small a space.
Culture is insular. It resembles an island, cut off from other influences.

It molds its members. The metaphor of putting something liquid into a mold and then solidifying it.

They are steeped in culture, like tea bags.

It blinds them.

It is engrained in them. The metaphor of something embedded in the grain of a piece of wood.

It is reflected. The metaphor of the mirror. Here I'm not following the logic, because I don't see how those subverting a culture would also reflect it in their actions. What the authors seem to mean is that cultural differences will emerge if new members don't yet know the rules, or if dissident members consciously break these rules.

New members have not embraced it....

Seven metaphors in total. (8 if you count "subversives.") The problem is that the authors haven't thought about what they want to communicate and so their message pulls the reader in many random directions at once. They aren't consciously using these metaphors at all, so they don't notice the potential for distraction.

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