The semi-colon joe dream

If we ask how primary and secondary subjects are brought into relation by being spoken of together in a metaphor, it seems natural to say that metaphor is a form of likening , comparing , or analogizing . The maker of a metaphor (or the metaphor itself) likens the primary subject to the secondary subject: Romeo (or Romeo’s speech) likens Juliet to the sun, Stephen likens history to nightmares, Benjamin likens works in prose to death masks. But it is unclear what we mean when we say this, to the point where some are reluctant to appeal to likeness or similarity in explaining what metaphor is or how it works. Much of the power and interest of many a good metaphor derives from how massively and conspicuously different its two subject matters are, to the point where metaphor is sometimes defined by those with no pretensions to originality as “a comparison of two un like things.” The interpretation of a metaphor often turns not on properties the secondary subject actually has or even on ones it is believed to have but instead on ones we habitually pretend it to have: think of what happens when we call someone a gorilla.

mid-15c., "numbering," later (1530s) "marginal notation," noun of action from quote (v.) or else from Medieval Latin quotationem (nominative quotatio ), noun of action from past participle stem of quotare "to number." Meaning "an act of quoting" is from 1640s; that of "passage quoted" is from 1680s. Quotation marks attested by 1777.

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