«Thesis presented to the Faculty of Arts of the University of Zurich for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy by Mark Staff Brandl of USA and ...»
Even in an artist often believed to have been "spontaneous" in the sense of unpremeditated, we see how thoroughly his metaphor(m) is a function of thought and creative deliberation. It requires a highly developed intellect, focused in a very specific way. It is often the ability to think both consciously and automatically (i.e. unconsciously or subconsciously).
As van Gogh wrote in a letter to Anton Ridder van Rappard...I drew [The Little Winter Gardens] several times and there was no feeling in them. Then afterwards — after I had done the ones that were so stiff — came the others. It is the same with the clumsy and awkward things. HOW IT HAPPENS I CAN EXPRESS SOMETHING OF THAT KIND? Because the thing has already taken form in my mind before I start on it.
The first attempts are absolutely unbearable. I say this because I want you to know that if you see something worthwhile in what I am doing, it is not by accident but because of real intention and purpose.
To create oneself through one's works is frequently based, as metaphor(m) theory displays, on a simple discovery. Simple in no way means easy, or unsophisticated, but rather oh-so obvious in retrospect — yet only after-the-fact or in critical analysis, which is a scholarly form of reflection. By simple I mean something closer to elegant, but without the decorative overtones. A discovery which might even be seen as somewhat mad: the ability to think otherwise, prying loose an evocative tool of self-(re)cognition. These simplicities have the naked usefulness of truths. Van Gogh found, and formed, the element through which he could live. It is tempting to think that he knew this, yet perhaps did not trust it enough to have lived longer and more contentedly, but that is another story and a different conjecture. For van Gogh, this meant that his discovery of his flame-metaphor(m) allowed him to fully express his burning desire for expression, to communicate his certainty of the centrality of passion to existence. This is the vicious/visionary circle of the simultaneously invented and discovered central trope.
Expressing this in the chart, van Gogh's metaphor(m)al blending can be diagrammed as
follows (fig. 12):
The novelist Ernest Hemingway is renowned for the apparent straightforwardness of his literary manner. While his style is clean and unornamented, this is the result of a refined yet involved metaphor(m), one not so easy to demonstrate schematically. Therefore, his work offers a rich and surprising case study. Similar to the preceding analysis of van Gogh, a pursuit of Hemingway's central trope serves well as a trial of this theory's usefulness.
In the development of his metaphor(m) Hemingway, as most other creators, had an agon, an antithetical battle with his personal precursor. This was not, as he claimed, with Steven Crane; that was purposeful misdirection, a pretense most likely largely inwardly directed. Harold Bloom asserts an important fact concerning artistic lineage. "No poet, I amend that to no strong poet, can choose his precursor, any more than any person can choose his father."25 Hemingway cannot decide to be the son of Crane, as much as he strove to avow and probably even believe this. Upon close study, it becomes obvious that his real struggle was with a conglomerate figure of a precursor composed in equal parts of Sherwood Anderson and Gertrude Stein. Anderson represented the realist and regionalist strain of Hemingway's desire. Stein was the penultimate Modernist, avant-garde and experimental.
Many critics of the period believed realism and modernism to be irreconcilable. Yet, Hemingway managed to perform this impossible blend through his struggle with these specific figures. Most of this author's remarkable achievements are complex and seemingly unattainable when considered in isolation from achieved fact. Bloom asserts that the greatest American poets, which we may extend to mean authors and artists in general, "make impossible and self-contradictory demands upon both their readers and themselves."26 The painter Paul Cézanne pointed the way for this novelist. It has often been noted, and thoroughly scrutinized by Thomas Hermann, that Hemingway "wished to write like Cézanne painted."27 The novelist was extremely visually oriented. Hemingway was "a man to whom the sense of vision was of the utmost importance. His writing was, from early on, influenced
by paintings."28 Cézanne had overcome a conflict comparable to that which faced the author.
This painter took the atmospheric touch of Impressionism and created its opposite — an art of solid construction. He forged a style which is clear, simple and avant-garde by making the strokes building-block-like, by forming space purely through structured color (not a play of light as in Impressionism), and by finding geometric simplicity in the essential shapes of objects, landscapes and people. Cézanne's willful and original misprision of his Impressionist forerunners was the analogy freeing Hemingway to accomplish his own necessary interpretive contortion.
The author's tools were many, but two are most important. The first is his often discussed use of metonymy instead of metaphor.29 The second is the chiastic structuring in his prose, which is less renowned yet equally important. This later insight is a recent gift to us from Max Nänny and his students, most notably Thomas Hermann.30 Metonymy emphasizes context; it is profoundly useful in realistic endeavors. It supplies an author with "natural symbols," or "context-sensitive" analogies.31 Metonymy is a clear, simple, real-world oriented trope. It avoids the extravagance of metaphor, which is tainted through its propagandistic misuse by authority figures such as politicians, businessmen, religious and military leaders. 32 Extravagant metaphor is often used in lies and romantic rabble-rousing. Here, we can think of the amplified, aggressive, ostentatious metaphors of Nazis, both neo- and historical.
Considering such modern misuse of rhetoric, Hemingway was exemplary in his "fear of abstractions," a phrase Hermann borrows from Ezra Pound. 33 Metonymy surfaces in many elements of Hemingway's works: descriptions, vocabulary, dialogue and even characters' appellations. In A Farewell to Arms various figures are identified by Hemingway in this fashion, such as "the man with the garlic," or "the men of the anti-aircraft gun." In a famous passage in the same novel, the character Lt. Frederic Henry describes Hemingway's view of language.
There were many words that you could not stand to hear and finally only the names of places had dignity. Certain numbers were the same and certain dates and these with the names of the places were all you could say and have them mean anything. Abstract words such as glory, honor, courage, or hallow were obscene beside the concrete names of villages, the numbers of roads, the names of rivers, the numbers of regiments and the dates.34 Ibid., p. 186.
The relationship between metaphor and metonymy may be far more complex than has been assumed for many decades. Günter Radden, for example, asserts that most metaphors may actually have metonymies as their source. This is in his paper "How Metonymic are Metaphors?" in the book Metaphor and Metonymy in Comparison and Contrast, edited by René Dirven and Ralf Pörings.
Hermann., Quite a Little, pp. 151-153. See also Max Nänny, "Hemingway’s Architecture of Prose:
Chiastic Patterns and Their Narrative Functions," North Dakota Quarterly 64, no. 3 (1997): 157-176.
Ibid., pp. 140-143. One subsection of Chapter 10, "Hemingway and Cézanne," is titled "The Role of Context" and offers an excellent discussion of metonymy as a contextual device in Hemingway’s writing.
For a discussion and application of Roman Jakobson's dichotomy between metonymy and metaphor to
contemporary art, see Mark Staff Brandl and Daniel Ammann, "Beyond 'Like' and 'As' in Images:
Metonymy and Metaphor in Some Recent Art," Art Criticism, vol.8, no.2, (1993), pp. 98–108.
Hermann, Quite a Little, p. 139. Hermann cites the Literary Essays of Ezra Pound, ed. T.S. Eliot (New York: New Directions, 1968), p. 5.
Ibid., p. 165.
The Theory of Central Trope 68 As exhibited in this quotation, metonymy is a context-sensitive tool. Because of this, Hemingway was able to use it to create natural symbols, that is, images which can be read as naturalistic details, yet also may be imaginatively expanded by the reader to the level of metaphor.35 A realistic description of Santiago sleeping in The Old Man and the Sea can also be interpreted as a visual image of the crucifixion, symbolically making the old fisherman a Christ-figure in his tragic, yet heroic, suffering.
Inside the shack he leaned the mast against the wall. In the dark he found a water bottle and took a drink. Then he lay down on the bed. He pulled the blanket over his shoulders and then over his back and legs and he slept face down on the newspapers with his arms out straight and the palms of his hands up.36 Whereas metonymy is Hemingway's cardinal rhetorical figure, chiastic structures are the principal building-blocks of his prose. A chiasmus, also termed a chiasm, is a patterning device in which symmetry is achieved by following the first half of a linguistic unit with a parallel of its form in reverse. This is typically described diagrammatically as ABBA, 1-2-3:3ABCD:X:DCBA, or the like. Most frequently this involves a repetition of words, however
a chiasmus "may be manifested on any level of the text or (often) on multiple levels at once:
phonological (sound-patterning), lexical or morphological (word repetition;...), syntactic (phrase- or clause-construction) or semantic/thematic."37 Chiastic patterning is one predominant formal technique in the Bible. It appears in the discussions of almost every book in The Literary Guide to the Bible, edited by Robert Alter and Frank Kermode. Shakespeare's works and the King James Version of the Bible are the two columns supporting any English speaker's world, whether recognized or not. The Bible is, of course, the weightier member of this pair, especially for an American, Shakespeare the more psychological. Not only is chiasmus a foundational element of sentence structure in the poetry of the Old Testament, but longer passages, whole sections, images and even underlying subtexts and meanings can be chiastic. This occurs, for example, on a grand scale in chiasmata of polarity in the first books of the Bible.
The first division in Genesis 1 was that between light and darkness. This polarity continues powerfully throughout Exodus and beyond. On its journey through the desert, Israel is protected and led by a column of smoke or a cloud during the day and a column of fire at night, as signs of God's presence. These are the virtuoso effects of the master of polarities, who has thus created a chiasm: light in darkness, darkness in light. These polarities occur at strategic points in the composition: in chapter 14, where the division between Israel and Egypt becomes definite, around and in the Red Sea (13:21-22 and 14:19-20), and also in 10:23, 19:18, and 20:18, where smoke and fire dramatize the theophany on the holy mountain; in 33:9-11a, in front of the tabernacle of the congregation, where the cloud appears only in order to screen from the people Moses' contact with God; and preeminently in the climactic moment at the conclusion of the book (40:34-38), where the full polarity,
day/night = fire/cloud, appears and marks how "the glory of YHWH filled the tabernacle"(v.
35b).38 Biblical chiasmata appear quite visibly in the poetic parallelism of sentences formed by pairs of phrases. This can be displayed in Psalm 1:6, as diagrammed in The Bible as
Literature by John B. Gabel, Charles B. Wheeler and Anthony D. York, (fig. 13):
In addition, one clause frequently makes an abstract assertion, while the other paraphrases and exemplifies it, as in Proverbs 25:11-12, from the New Jerusalem Bible.
Any Biblical reference or literary form carries connotations of truth. Walt Whitman used an opposite style-feature of the Bible, yet for analogous metaphoric reasons. Whereas Whitman used the expansive, proclamatory, litany-based inclusiveness of Biblical structure, Hemingway contracts it, makes chiastic form firm, lean, something solid and workmanlike.
He creates blocks of relations that are similar to Cézanne's strokes and geometric substructure.
This hard-boiled solidity is also suggestive of simplicity and truth.
Nänny has "discovered close to a hundred such" chiasmata in Hemingway's work. He describes them as "formal, quasi poetic structurations submerged under the deceptive verbal surface of his seemingly simple, realistic prose."41 In order to make the chiastic structures clear, in his article "Hemingway's Architecture of Prose: Chiastic Patterns and Their Narrative Functions," Nänny has taken what are continuous prose texts in Hemingway and broken them into diagrams with the lexical repetitions in bold-face and the semantic repetitions in bold italics. An excellent example is a passage from "Big Two-Hearted River, Part I."
The river was there. It swirled against the log spiles of the bridge. Nick looked down into the clear, brown water, colored from the pebbly bottom, and watched the trout keeping themselves steady in the current with wavering fins. As he watched them they changed their positions by quick angles, only to hold steady in the fast water again. Nick watched them a long time.
He watched them holding themselves with their noses into the current, many trout in deep, fast moving water, slightly distorted as he watched far down through the glassy convex surface of the pool, its surface pushing and swelling smooth against the resistance of the log-driven piles of the bridge.
As presented in "Hemingway's Architecture of Prose," Nänny finds several specific narrative functions for Hemingway's various applications of chiastic structure, including "back and forth movement;" "opposition, symmetry and balance;" "framing;" and "centering."