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Diaphor


In considering the role of metaphor in interpretation it is crucial to distinguish “two ways of metaphor.” The purpose of ‘epiphor’–“metaphor in the conventional Aristotelian sense–is to express a similarity between something relatively well known or concretely known (the semantic vehicle) and something which . . . is less known or more obscurely known (the semantic tenor).” “The other and complementary kind of semantic movement that metaphor engages maybe called diaphor. Here the ‘movement’ (phora) is ‘through’ (dia) certain particulars of experience (actual or imagined) in a fresh way, producing new meaning by juxtaposition alone.” The relation is presentational not representational.

Wheelwright, P. (1962). Metaphor and Reality.
Bloomington: Indiana, University Press. pp. 70-91.


Wheelwright’s notion of ‘diaphor’ is equivalent to the notion’s of ‘radical metaphor’ and ‘antimetaphor’. Further, because the ‘left-brain’ seems to have such a problem with  metaphor, viewing it as some kind of ‘groundless speculation’, both avoiding it and failing to grasp it–as Freud noted in distinguishing ‘secondary process’ from ‘primary process’–it is essential to observe that the metaphoric and especially diaphoric poetic imagination operates by its own peculiar yet rigorous natural law. This is how Dylan Thomas describes the procedure:

“I make one image–though ‘make’ is not the word; I let, perhaps, an image be ‘made’ emotionally in me and then apply to it what intellectual and critical forces I possess; let it breed another, let that image contradict the first, make of the third image, bred out of the other two together, a fourth contradictory image, and let them all, within my imposed formal limits, conflict. Each image holds within it the seed of its own destruction, and my dialectical method, as I understand it, is a constant building up and breaking down of the images that come out of the central seed, which is itself destructive and constructive at the same time . . . The life in any poem of mine cannot move concentrically round a central image, the life must come out of the center; an image must be born and die in another; and any sequence of my images must be a sequence of creations, recreations, destructions, contradictions . . . Out of the inevitable conflict of images . . . I try to make that momentary peace which is a poem.”

Whalley, G. (1967). Poetic Process.
New York: World. pp. 146.