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29/11/2012

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Dominik LukeŇ°

As the resident (on the internet) metaphor hacker, I guess I couldn't stay away from this one.

What you're describing is basically the concept of "generative metaphor" from Schon (of reflective practitioner fame who indirectly inspired Lakoff and Johnson). He's referring to metaphors that are used as jumping off points even if they don't seem very apt. We use these all the time both consciously and unconsciously. There is a whole branch of therapy based around adapting metaphors and metaphors are used to jump start many innovations.

But you need to proceed with care. Successful metaphors can be very seductive (e.g. http://metaphorhacker.net/2011/02/the-most-ridiculous-metaphor-of-education/) and you should always investigate the limits of all the projections that come with metaphors.

So I think your 'be the satnav' metaphor can be very useful. But you can play it out in different ways. A satnav keeps a hidden record of where you went and maybe somebody will once hack it and expose all your wrong turns - a Freudian psychoanalysts wet dream... Or you could say a satnav just tells you what to do so always starting from the beginning means that you will never learn from your mistakes.

So you always have to be clear about how the metaphor works. People can and do take them in many different ways.

PS: I recommend forgiving people for using 'literally' in ways you don't like. See here: http://metaphorhacker.net/2011/02/literally-triumph-of-pet-peeve-over-matter/

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