Suggest some similar similes!
August 4, 2007 11:19 AM   Subscribe

Help me come up with an evocative simile that conveys a profound but unemotional appreciation of a thing. My existing, imperfect prose is inside for your delectation.

The below is not right at all, because a viewer's interaction with a good work of art -- even non-representational modern art -- is fundamentally emotional:

"I admired [thing] as one might admire a painting by Jackson Pollock: I reveled in its complexity and elegance, but abstractly, without emotional investment. "

Any suggestions? Feel free to toy with sentence structure if you wish; nothing is set in stone!
posted by perissodactyl to Writing & Language (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I admire [thing] as a psychologist might applaud a quantum engineering breakthrough?
posted by Phire at 11:48 AM on August 4, 2007


This statement:
The below is not right at all, because a viewer's interaction with a good work of art -- even non-representational modern art -- is fundamentally emotional
isnt' objectively true, but if you want us to just go with, that's fine.

So: [Thing]'s beauty washed over me like that really funny commercial I can't remember.

Like an enthusatic street musician, [Thing] made me laugh and smile, but it got none of my money.

My wife and I found [thing]'s colors and composition to be beautiful enough to go in the living room.

[Thing]'s beauty kept me sane as my son prattled on during the museum tour.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:04 PM on August 4, 2007


You just need an art form that's more conventional and less blatantly expressive: ancient Greek or Roman sculpture, jewelry, calligraphy, etc.

Or why not just reword the same comparison to be more subjective: "the same way I always react to a Jackson Pollock painting"? As Brandon Blatcher points out, it's not a given that people have an emotional reaction to great art. If Pollock was the example that came to mind, maybe it's the most honest example (just not the most obvious one) to express your thoughts.
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:17 PM on August 4, 2007


I admired [thing] as one might admire a painting by Jackson Pollock: I reveled in its complexity and elegance, but abstractly, without emotional investment.

I admired [thing] as if it were the Rosetta Stone- elegant and complex, but nothing I could read. Nothing I could feel.
posted by headspace at 12:38 PM on August 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


I admired [thing] as one might admire a Baroque fugue: I reveled in its complexity and elegance, but abstractly, without emotional investment.

Or if you want to plop in a more specific example, Pachelbel's Canon in D would be an easy and fitting one.
posted by ludwig_van at 2:01 PM on August 4, 2007


I appreciated [thing] in the way a mathematician might appreciate an elegant proof. Intellectually, its profundity dazzled me. Emotionally, however, it had little resonance.
posted by ewiar at 2:24 PM on August 4, 2007


Not wanting to derail, but I can't possibly go in for this without a lot of persuading: "a viewer's interaction with a good work of art [...] is fundamentally emotional". People shouldn't be told how they should interact with a piece of art, and it's a losing battle to try, anyway.
posted by BaxterG4 at 2:26 PM on August 4, 2007


Or:

[Thing] appealed to me in the same manner as would an elegant proof to a mathematician. Intellectually evocative, yet emotionally sterile.
posted by ewiar at 2:27 PM on August 4, 2007


after posting I see that my complaint had been addressed by others. everyone carry on.
posted by BaxterG4 at 2:28 PM on August 4, 2007


"I admired [thing] as one might admire a antique timepiece: I reveled in its complexity and elegance, but abstractly, without emotional investment. "
posted by Deathalicious at 2:39 PM on August 4, 2007


an antique, sorry
posted by Deathalicious at 2:41 PM on August 4, 2007


If you're going for unemotional, "revel" doesn't feel right. To me, it signifies some degree of emotional response. Maybe not investment, as such, but abandon or maybe delight at any rate.

My vote goes for something like headspace's version.
posted by juv3nal at 3:08 PM on August 4, 2007


For once, Troy McLure (McClure?) has wisdom:

I loved it like I love Fresca.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:10 PM on August 4, 2007


Not knowing your specific goals or context, I won't venture to get too technical. Instead I offer up a handful of things that fascinate me (for their complexity and elegance) without causing a a particularly emotional response:

-an ant-farm or ant-colony
-the inner mechanism of a clock (car wash, antique automobile, lawnmower, or other complex machine)
-einstein's theory of relativity
-the day-to-day workings of a factory (or other tightly integrated organization, perhaps the stock exchange, congress, a large corporation, sports team, orchestra, pirate ship crew launching)
-two talented artists or technicians discussing their craft passionately using terms and concepts that are way above my head
-hearing a conversation in a foreign language I don't understand
-children at play (though this can be very emotional in many cases)
-A skyscraper construction site in-progress
-A NYC Subway map

hope these spark some ideas and lead you in a new direction
posted by Alabaster at 3:19 PM on August 4, 2007


i think "reveled" is a very emotionally evocative word- to me it expresses joy and sublime enjoyment, which i think is counter to what you mean. instead of "reveled", maybe a less emotional verb, like:

noted its complexity and elegance
acknowledged its complexity and elegance
saw it for its complexity and elegance
nodded at its complexity and elegance
nodded to its complexity and elegance
clearly saw its complexity and elegance
took in its complexity and elegance
could see its complexity and elegance
calmly accepted its complexity and elegance
could not deny its complexity and elegance
posted by twistofrhyme at 4:20 PM on August 4, 2007


- I admired [thing] as one might a beautiful piece of Muzak.
- [Thing] was as flawless as RuPaul's makeup.
- [Thing] was as breathtaking as watching Earth rise over the Sea of Tranquillity ... without a spacesuit.
- ... like Japanese display food, a feast for one sense only.
posted by rob511 at 5:52 PM on August 4, 2007


Pachelbel's Canon in D would be an easy and fitting one.

Nope. Pachelbel's Canon is often played at weddings and funerals because many people find it one of the most emotional pieces of music ever.
posted by Jaltcoh at 6:06 PM on August 4, 2007


I felt as if I was watching a rained-out tourist fit the last piece of "The Jackson Pollock Puzzle" snuggly into its place on a table in a hotel lobby.


Or, you know, any other appropriately difficult and complex puzzle. I also considered "The World's Most Difficult Mickey Mouse Puzzle." Once it's a puzzle in a hotel, emotional value drops, complexity increases.
posted by Eringatang at 8:32 PM on August 4, 2007


Are you sure you want to use a simile? The idea you are trying to express here seems to be largely abstract, so maybe it would be best if you go without clarification and left your description of the reaction to this thing vague.
posted by davidriley at 10:00 PM on August 4, 2007


I marvelled at it's [good qualities]. I wondered at how a mere human being could be capable of such a thing. However, it wasn't really my cup of tea, subject wise. I didn't buy it.

(this is dance/house/electronic music for me.)
posted by ctmf at 12:25 AM on August 5, 2007


Nope. Pachelbel's Canon is often played at weddings and funerals because many people find it one of the most emotional pieces of music ever.

I really don't think that's why it's played at those occasions. But okay.
posted by ludwig_van at 1:49 AM on August 5, 2007


[Thing] appealed to me in the same manner as would an elegant proof to a mathematician. Intellectually evocative, yet emotionally sterile.

I appreciated [thing] in the way a mathematician might appreciate an elegant proof. Intellectually, its profundity dazzled me. Emotionally, however, it had little resonance.


Most mathematicians I've talked to about how they feel about math love math. Not in a "like it a lot" way, but in a "copulate wildly on topographically improbable surfaces, but hide it from those who feel our love is wrong" way. It is not a simile that conveys to me what you want conveyed.

ctmf's suggestion is the only one that really conveys the lack of emotionality to me. I think you might have trouble using specific examples, as different people have emotional reactions to different things.
posted by yohko at 12:31 PM on August 6, 2007


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