Tag: simile

Similes

by on Nov.05, 2010

Hey all, I’m cooking up a full length review of Rosa Alcala’s “Undocumentaries”, as well as a going-on-thirty-page essay about Bolano’s use of and and or, and its got me thinking about similes.

Yes, similes.

What’s interesting about similes is how overt they are– they have the like or as, anyone can pick ’em out. They propose a likeness. Yet there is something duplicitous about the simile, because every time they say like, they are really saying unlike. Because ‘likeness’ is not identical-ness, it’s not complete. There’s a certain residue of unlikeness that is signaled by the word like. Visually speaking, the word ‘like’ comes between two entities and visually enacts a tremulous link between two things are not identical. Two weights that want to split apart (that are already split apart). Like is the join that sunders. For all its overtness, ‘like’ is literary thinking splitting apart, generating a dark matter.

For example, when Rosa Alcala writes “A Girl Like Me”, and uses that girl as the protagonist-figure of her poems, we begin to realize that the like smuggles in an entropy in place of an apparent binary. The girl is the ‘me’s likeness, but there is a split there, an unlikeness, an unspeakable distance between the speaker and the ‘girl’ that creates noise in the form of poem. As the girls multiply in the poems– the Yugoslavian girl, the girl in the factory, a writer girl– the reader is left in a flexing, aporistic space– what is likeness? If one can generate multiple likenesses, can they really be said to be ‘like’, or is every ‘like’, as Plato feared, really generating counterfeits, ill-formed knockoffs which expand the number of things in the world?

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