Repressive regimes–fascist or communist, dictatorial or theocratic–have one thing in common.
They go after the writers first.
One of the reasons why writers (and artists in general) are early targets of the state is that the Authority and the Writer are both world-weavers. They use language to construct a very particular view of human existence. Traditionally, their use of language is disseminated to the masses through publication, which means to the act of making something public: the Writer publishes poems, essays, and novels, while the Authority publishes notices, laws, and propaganda. However, since a repressive Authority wants to ensure that only its view of the world is accepted by its people, writers are inherently dangerous. They not only offer up a world-view that differs from that of the Authority, but also are uniquely equipped to challenge the Authority’s words.
No one sees through an Authority’s misuse of language faster than a writer. Writers are keenly aware of how words can manipulate and deceive; after all, they manipulate words for a living.
For the first half of today’s class, I’d like you to develop an extended metaphor. You will create one metaphor and maintain it for the length of a well-developed paragraph. You will publish the paragraph on your blog by Thursday.
Here are your choices:
- You can take issue with the Authority of your choice by creating an extended metaphor that points out its weaknesses, its errors or, quite possibly, its lies. Because this is not intended to be a personal attack, do not choose authorities (like me) that we actually know; instead, stick to policies, laws, or propaganda that the Authority produces.
- Continue with the metaphor you wrote yesterday about God. State the metaphor in the opening sentence, and develop the imagery in the subsequent sentences. You don’t have to maintain a poetic style; simply develop the metaphor in the sentences that follow. This clip from the Dead Poet’s Society might give you some inspiration.
- If you like, your extended metaphor may be humorous, like Will Ferrell’s extended metaphor in his Commencement Speech at Harvard. In fact, some of the best extended metaphors are satirical: while humorous, these comparisons also undermine the subject of the satire.
Have fun. Be dangerous.