(I'm sure you saw what I did there.)
I think about metaphors a lot, except when I'm actually trying to come up with a good one. Then I try not to think, because the best metaphors filter in without conscious effort, and feel less like a thought than a flavor. You can taste the good ones in your mind.
But here's the thing. We, or at least I, am accustomed to viewing metaphors as the subtle connections we invent or discover to help us convey or explain some piece of reality. The key here is that we perceive that the reality was there first and has its own independent existence, with the metaphor there to serve it, to chisel it from the flat rock face of perception and display it in sharper relief.
For years I've wondered, though, if there might not be a reverse effect at work when it comes to metaphors. As in, does the choice of metaphor create a self-actualizing effect that sometime builds its own reality, new reality out beyond the rock face. Once you've finished, it would be very hard to tell whether you started with a flat rock face that you carved or one that you added to.
Anyway, this post was intended to be a brief list of some of the failed metaphors I've come up with in my time. Goofy, tenuous things that seemed good for about five seconds but made me laugh once I thought about how hokey they were. Then, purely coincidentally and I couldn't even tell you the Internet surf trail that led me to them, I discovered two articles that were so fascinating, I just have to pass them on, in case anybody else is as intrigued by the subject as I am. Everyone else is dismissed.
So, here's the first article:
Metaphors We Think With: The Role of Metaphor in Reasoning
And a follow up study by the same group:
Natural Language Metaphors Covertly Influence Reasoning
This work already has me questioning the metaphor choices in every news article or opinion column I read. For instance, given the conclusions of these two studies, imagine the cumulative effects of the billions of references to our "polarized society." Then try to think in terms of an alternative metaphor that's less...polarizing. It's difficult, but I think it's worth trying.