even more things

Selection from Living Metaphor, 2020. 

The word ‘metaphor’ comes from the Greek metaphorein, meaning to carry, to transport—referring to the act of transferring something from here to there, for example the transference of meaning from what is literally said to what is actually meant. In other words, a metaphor consists of an intellectual shuttle service between contexts, which are sufficiently vaguely defined to allow such an excursion to take place.

Among all the protagonists capable of taking on this transportation role, the horse is both able to carry something and able to transport this ‘something’ elsewhere, to another place. The horse can carry not only humans and other loads, but also abstract signs and symbols: it is not only a phoros, a carrier of something, but also a semiophoros or a semaphore, a carrier of signs. The practical capacity of the horse is balanced with a corresponding literary story-telling capacity—both capacities are reflected in one another and mutually augment the singular metaphoric strength of the horse, to transcend real and imaginary contexts. The metaphorical animal, the figurative animal, and the signifying animal always remain inalienable parts of the tangible, material reality. In its capacity as bearer of signs and symbols, in its role as semaphore, the horse remains a significant carrier and transmitter of meaning.

Special thanks to Brigitte, Emma, Deborah, and all of the horses I have lived with, past and present.