The Narcissism of Our Metaphors

We write for readers. But sometimes we got get caught up in our own words. We forget the reader. We are misled by our metaphors; we make meaning for ourselves. Shakespeare’s characters certainly did. They were self-involved.

James Wood 1


James Wood 2

—James Wood, “Shakespeare in Bloom,” The Broken Estate


  1. graccibros June 6, 2015 at 8:46 am | #

    I was waiting for a link to contemporary example of the “narcissism of our metaphors,” and haven’t we been trained to expect that when the word “narcissism” appears, it is most likely deployed by the Right against a left figure, often the Clintons. I half-expected to read a paragraph on the Clinton speech giving fees, and the work of their foundations, a combination of good works in the classic tradition of conservative charities in the US, narcissism, and an extension of neoliberalism, as the foundations do the work that this ideology now proscribes for governments. And according to Michael Tomasky’s defense of them in the current print edition of the NYR of Books, Bill Clinton is even combatting narcissism in his speeches – we get a peephole look at one (they are largely secret, off the record to VIPs) in which he waxes not so eloquent about co-operation, claiming the ants the bees and yes the human species co-operate. I have pointed out, in other places, that he spent 8 years pumping up American competitiveness. I prescribe “Green Capitalism: The God That Failed” for Bill’s reading list, the point being that it’s hard to squeeze co-operation out of the system currently running and that the Clinton Foundation is built around.

  2. jonnybutter June 6, 2015 at 9:59 am | #

    Since when do writers write only for readers? Artists only for audience?

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