First, because they are. The world is not, whatever your English teachers say, not a stage, and Juliet is not the rising sun. She is just a girl Romeo wants to get into bed. But nearly every English teacher I have ever had, at every level, has given me some version of this spiel: We read fiction, we learn literature because good writing illuminates the truth of our world, the truth of ourselves, in a way that the everyday does not and cannot always. Quibble with that as you like, but there is no small measure of truth in it. And possibly because I am forever an insufferable little twit at heart, it amuses me that great literature less those truths accompanied by so, so many lies.
Less charitable people than me might suggest that lying is necessary to allow the masses to understand the real truth. That is self-serving nonsense, of course; the excuse-making of people who know the truth is not on their side. But the truth is complicated, and humans don’t always do complicated well. My favorite engineering professor always used to tell us that a difference that makes no difference is no difference. If there is a 98% chance an asteroid will hit the earth and destroy it, the difference between 98% and 100% is a difference that makes no difference. But a person desperate for a reason to hope will put a lot of difference into that 2%. Metaphors are a way to elide that difference, perhaps, to help us understand the complicated truth with an appeal to something simpler that we do understand. The world is not a stage, but we know that individual drama plays across it every day. The rising sun and a pretty girl are both common occurrences that can still, occasionally, take your breath away with their beauty. Metaphors are simple things that illuminate the complex truth.
They are still lies, though. Don’t forget that. Because if you do, you forget the complexity underneath them and forget that the representation, the metaphor, is not the entirety of the truth. That can lead to misunderstanding the world in important and terrible ways.
Enough dime-store philosophy: why this blog? Blogs are so 2004, at best. Well, first, because it’s mine. If anyone reads this, they can be sure to see everything on it, not just the portion Facebook or Twitter or whatever social media hellscape comes next decides you should see. Second, I want to read more and code more this year. I didn’t read as much as I should have last year, spending more time than I should doom scrolling. And my job doesn’t allow me to code as much as it used to, and I think you lose something by not having your hands in code. If I have a schedule to write about these things, that schedule eventually becomes a habit. The sports are just a palate cleanser – because writing about the Blackhawks is so soothing. I hope to read one book a week – likely too ambitious, but a goal, nonetheless. I won’t have a new program every week, but I will have progress every week. The schedule I intend to keep is:
With any luck, this little outdated piece of internet ephemera will serve as a catalyst for keeping my new year resolutions and perhaps amuse the occasional stray passerby.
And always remember that your English teachers lie to you.