Mieville on metaphor

“I’ve been very interested in metaphor for several years, and it’s been cropping up in the books (and does in ones not yet out). I don’t know that I can say that much super-rigorous about it, but basically I got interested in, in distinction to some of my other ‘fantasy’ novels, the idea of magic as a literalised metaphor, which means that it’s not subject to an external system of rules, but instead becomes about a constant sense of making connections. The making of those connections being the point, rather than the excavation of existing ones. And I like that because it’s an exaggerated and literalised model of what the human mind does all the time. Sympathetic magic is the logic of simile – this is like that. Do something to this, it will have an effect on that. Transformative magic seems to me metaphoric – this becomes that. Sometimes these metaphors are very obvious – the comb becomes the forest. Sometimes they demand a moment of decoding – Achilles is a lion. and sometimes their lack of obviousness is the point. However, for the most part, as they say in Kraken, given that these work by persuasion (of the universe), their logic tends to be a bit trite. And this kind of rather lumpen comparative logic seems to me at the heart of much fantasy, in a literalised way, and also of enormous wads of ‘literary’ fiction, though not literalised – instead, at a plodding organisational formal level, in which activity X in the book (often excitingly ethnic and othered) becomes, crash, ‘a symbol for’ something else. Often the protagonists life, or whatnot. This is
what I think Pynchon was teasing with Kute Korrespondences, and it was something I wanted to play with.”

The rest here.

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