Writing comes closest to reaching full meaning through our old friends simile, metaphor, and allegory. Long extended metaphors become allegories like Spenser’s “The Faerie Queene” or Milton’s “Paradise Lost” or any of Shakespeare’s plays or Lewis Carroll’s brilliant stories about Alice. I keep returning to those works again and again as I recognize additional glimmers of hidden truth revealed in the immortal words of favorite poets, playwrights, and priests. At different times in my life, different writers and different books have revealed meaning that I found useful or truthful.
Perhaps it’s because I reread a piece I wrote more than thirty years ago that such thoughts occupy my mind. “Random Factors: The recurring Themes of Henry Kuttner” appeared in Etchings and Odysseys #4 in spring of 1984 (I just posted the piece to my website at www.pauldaleanderson.com). Kuttner was a modern (back in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s) master of extended metaphor.