Monday, May 10, 2010

Interpretation - HELP, PLEASE


Apprentice Writer is a great admirer of the well-placed simile and the original metaphor.

Occasionally, she needs some help to interpret same. In this vein, a quote from "First Comes Love, then Comes Malaria: How a Peace Corps Poster Boy Won My Heart and a Third World Adventure Changed My Life" by Eve Brown-Waite. This is a breezily written, appealing travel memoir with a terrific cover (both title and art) and a lot of honesty about the author's feelings and how she dealt with the conditions she found in various places.

Where AW became stumped was a chapter dealing with the phenomenon of reverse culture shock, returning to one's homeland after a long time spent in a place that is very different:

"Reverse culture shock hit me like an avalanche and I responded like a fart in a blizzard."

AW was doing fine up to "avalanche". It was the second half that caused puzzlement.

Is there some evident-to-others relationship between avalanche/blizzard/fart that AW missed?
Is this a reference to relative noisiness? To the involuntary nature of the body function? But then again - avalanches and blizzards could be considered plenty involuntary, too.

AW is now about half way through the story, and will admit that her readerly anticipation is heightened by the thought that more such original comparisons will pop up.

Gentle Reader - Thoughts?

11 comments:

Rachel said...

Ok, so I really put some thought into this. I even did some "method" thinking since I've been in a blizzard and so tried to mentally enact what it would have been like if I had farted in said blizzard. But I got nothing. Is it quickly whirled away? In the blanketing snow does the smell hover? Are you huddled in your stuck car with others and thus stenching up the place for everyone? I couldn't come up with one scenario that I thought fit reverse culture shock. Huh, stumper!

M. said...

Rachel - LMAO!
your sobriquet of scientist-gone-wordy is well-deserved, in the best sense possible

Rachel said...

Thanks, M! Sometimes I feel like sgsilly.

Rachel said...

Oops, forgot to say: I think you can click on my goodreads widget on my blog and add me that way or maybe search under "jthing27"

Julia Smith said...

(killing myself laughing) Rachel, that is hilarious!

I would imagine the comparison to mean the avalanche was so powerful it swallowed her connection to her feelings, like a blizzard would swallow a fart.

LOL!

Rachel said...

Julia - my husband seconds your opinion. Let me share a bit of how our conversation went...

I shared the phrase along with my complete mystification. Before I'm even done my husband's like, "You've never heard 'fart in a blizzard?'" I'm like, "You have?" He's like, "Yeah, of course." Huh.

So... I ask, "What does it mean?" He says, "To fart in a blizzard is an act of futility."

side note: dictionary.com defines futile as useless (handily, so do I)

I ask, "When is a fart not futile? I mean, when does one employ a fart to some end other than relief?" He says, "No, it's just that the blizzard is so much more powerful. The fart has no force in a blizzard." Me: "When does a fart have force?" Him: "Yes, see, well that's why it's a metaphor."

side note: we are both scientists. that's either an explanation or just scary.

It's quite possible that "To fart in a blizzard is an act of futility" will be the best phrase of 2010 for this household.

M. said...

interesting observation, Julia.

and wow on Rachel's husband being so knowledgable, but - saying is an act of futility kind of implies that the sort that happens outside of blizzards is an act with purpose. Really?

Rachel said...

Exactly, M! Really?

M. said...

Rachel, your best phrase of 2010 sure beats any floating around our house, which are all taken from some kids movie or other.

And I couldn't even use it in my house because I've pretty much drilled it into my kids I don't want them to use the word. We call them 'fluffs' around here. Which led to the phrase 'someone sure smells fluffy'

Rachel said...

*snicker* fluffy!

Julia Smith said...

I'm wiping away tears of laughter, you guys - stop it!