I just want to acknowledge Annie Wyndham for her kind and generous response to my Suite 101 article on the use and abuse of metaphors. Her AmeriQuebeckian “jottings” are always a pleasure to read, and I’m glad she found something of value in what I had to say. I sometimes wonder if these articles (and these blog entries) are worth writing–that is, if what I have to say is worth writing down. It’s good to know that my effort to be of use is occasionally … well … useful. My aim is these activities is to approximate what the Japanese philosopher Soetsu Yanagi called “Mingei“: things that are “useful, dependable, convenient, and comforting to live with.”* Mostly I fall short, of course, but I don’t feel anxious about it. In a way, the purpose is more important than the achievement. Marge Piercy describes the goal well in her poem “To Be of Use“: “The pitcher cries for water to carry / and a person for work that is real.” Thanks, Annie, for making me feel that this work is real!
* Thanks as well to my good friend Jim Bednar, whom I’ve written about elsewhere on this blog, for introducing me to Yanagi’s work.