You're Doing It Wrong

Similes are not that hard.

One thing is equated, figuratively rather than literally, to another. Their meta-qualities are put into a kind of ratio, if you will. The reader is asked to find the similarities between objects that are, perhaps, not usually, or only tangentially, related.

Lawrence A. Johnson of the Miami Herald demonstrates the concept for us in this article.

By now, the Cleveland Orchestra's vaunted refinement and virtuosity are known quantities locally after two Miami residency seasons.


Still, while owning a Rolls-Royce is nice, someone with skilled hands still needs to operate the controls.

Um. Okay, that is a metaphor, and not a simile, but…well…really? Normal drivers cannot operate a Rolls? Hmm. Continue.

Music director Franz Welser-Most's Miami concerts have been uneven to date, which increases the interest on those programs directed by guest conductors.


Now 36, Midori has been before the public since she was 10 and her artistry has only deepened, as was made clear in the Japanese violinist's revisionist take on Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto.


The Russian war horse is performed so often as a vehicle for surface fireworks and ego-driven solo display that one can forget the depths in the score.


Like centuries of grime removed from ancient paintings, Midori's refined poetic sensibility made one appreciate this music anew.


Reading. Writing? Comprehending…

The sentence above insinuates that “Midori’s refined poetic sensibility” is like, in some way, “grime removed from ancient paintings”.


Midori's sensibility is...like...grime?

I don't think that's what was intended here.

Let me take a crack at that failed sentence.

“Like ancient paintings from which ancient grime has been removed, Midori’s refined poetic sensibility…”

No. That equates the ancient paintings to Midori’s poetic sensibility. Which is similarly nonsensical.

The apparent meaning is that Midori’s sensibility reveals intricacies in the score that have been obscured (by centuries of War-horse-ness) somewhat like the removal of grime from ancient paintings reveals hidden details, or whatnot.

I think?

Reader challenge! Make it make sense, dammit!


Sator Arepo said...

"Like ancient paintings revealed by the removal of layers of grime, the subtleties of the score were revealed by Midori's poetic sensibility."

That's as close as I've gotten.


Empiricus said...

Midori says something about it. It's not familiar, but what she says, it's adequate, on a poetic level, because I know what that means, but you don't, because you can't remove grime from shlock, quite like Midori, nor I, Mr. Shlockmann.

That's my guess.

Mr. Shlockmann, Esq.

AnthonyS said...

"Like the peppercorns of mitochondrial DNA in their languid horse-facing finery, Midori leapt outside the alabaster Decembers of eggplant's desired ballast-shaft."

(with apologies to Gerture Stein)

--A "Tender Buttons" S

AnthonyS said...

Err, fuck. That's


Much too early in the AM...

Aaron said...

"Like a skilled art restoration expert removing centuries of grime from an ancient painting, Midori's refined poetic sensibility made one appreciate this music (so often performed as a vehicle for surface fireworks and ego-driven solo display) anew."

See, the problem is that Mr. Johnson isn't really thinking about what he's writing. He's got an idea of what he wants to say, and then he says it, without taking the time to figure out whether the way he's expressed his idea makes sense.

I get where he's going with his grime-removal idea, but he's not thinking about what "Midori's poetic sensibility" is doing vis-a-vis the grime-removal he wants to compare to Midori's performance. To make a fairly obvious point at tedious length.

Although, even cleaned up, I think he's got a problem with metaphors. This kind of thing:

"The Russian war horse is performed so often as a vehicle for surface fireworks and ego-driven solo display.."

...is bad. The war horse is a vehicle for fireworks and solo display? I would like to see that horse!

Preferably from a distance.