‘Oh pretty woman! The sparkle in your eyes is like the twinkle of stars in the night sky’, serenaded Pritish to Priya in his jubilant baritone. While, ‘The structure of an atom is like a miniature solar system with planet-like electrons orbiting the Sun-like nucleus in closed elliptical paths’ proclaimed a gruff gaudy Rutherford. And ‘If you expect the world to be fair with you because you’re fair to them, its like asking a lion not to eat you because you don’t eat lions’ read a random facebook quote. Now what’s the common string in all three?!
No, don’t go into twinkle of star and atoms undergoing nuclear fusion in the starry kiln, and shake off that image of a pretty woman and a lioness walking that graceful gait. The connection is, well bit more literal, actually more of linguistic. All are analogies. The sparkle in eye to the twinkle of star, and the rest two are homework!
Analogies are a logical tool to enhance the literary repertoire as of the scientific ramble. It’s a connection in similarity. We equate some aspect of something to a similar aspect of another thing, to make a point. Yes, the purpose of analogies is to make a point. And that’s as simple as it gets.
Now my worry is, what kind of point is the point that’s made as with analogy. Try this. Once a friend said something mean to another friend of mine. Well lets strip down the façade. The real is, a girl said something mean to her boyfriend, my friend. And she stormed out. A moment later as when it gleamed on her that she was in wrong, she returns to apologize, but my friend in his momental chagrin blurts out, ‘An egg broken, is broken.’
Now he conveyed a point, that once hurt, it can’t be undone, only maybe forgiven or forgotten. And he livened it with a beautiful analogy of a simple scientific fact, actually more of a common knowledge that one cant put the albumin and yolk back into the broken shell and reseal the egg. (The physics is due to entropy and arrow of time and stuffs.) And there is beauty, impact and a clarity in this way of conveying it, with a crisp subtle simple analogy.
And that’s what analogies and meant for. To explain. To bring clarity to the concept. To convey an idea with simplicity. To gleam insight into something.
Now consider this. I once was dragged to a church by a ‘friend’, and someone was preaching on the mike with lots of gesticulation and tonal modulation, walking around, jumping, waving and shouting hallelujah. He made this analogy. I will cut the long repetitive story short. The gist was, ‘the guy went to a furniture store with his wife to buy a cushion for their sofa set. The lady sits on every cushion there, and it takes her two days to make up her mind which one it is’. Then he goes on to say, ‘if u take so long to pick a single cushion, how long will Jesus take to pick the right cushion (life/love/relationship/job/choice) for you’. I guess, his point was, if life is hard, suck it up cos it only means God is trying him as before the gift of a lifetime.
Now the flaw here was, he uses the analogy not to explain, but to substantiate his point. N that’s exactly what an analogy is not for. Because at the very heart, analogy is in essence a logic applied in a different context. The connection being, the similarity of inference that can be drawn. One should note that the inferences in those two disparate contexts per se exist, and are valid. The purpose of analogy being only to present them together so one may understand the logic of the inference in one context as through other. Its not that on the force of some similarity in context, the inference in one is drawn similar to other. N thus why Rutherford went wrong with his planetary model for structure of atom. But there is more to that story than that.
And thus, like winter gives way to spring, despair will to hope and happiness, well is pleasing pleasant analogy, but its validity, well, its not definite. But then, we want it to be true. Guess, that’s the one small little flaw in analogies. But then, flaws are good sometimes.
Lets finish this with a brilliant one by the Bard, ‘When beggars die there are no comets seen; the heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.’ The point is implicit. And well, sometimes its just well enough to relish a piece of literature than having to dig into its validity and linguistic aptness. Its ok to like, accept and appreciate something at face-value, not always, but some harmless times for sure.