Lots of people including Aristotle think errorAnne Carson, "Essay on what I think about most," Men in the Off Hours (Knopf: 2000): 30.
an interesting and valuable mental event.
In his discussion of metaphor in the Rhetoric
Aristotle says there are 3 kinds of words.
Strange, ordinary and metaphorical.
"Strange words simply puzzle us;
ordinary words convey what we know already;
it is from metaphor that we can get hold of something new & fresh"
In what does the freshness of metaphor consist?
Aristotle says that metaphor causes the mind to experience itself
in the act of making a mistake.
He pictures the mind moving along a plane surface
of ordinary language
that surface breaks or complicates.
At first it looks odd, contradictory or wrong.
Then it makes sense.
At this moment, according to Aristotle,
the mind turns to itself and says:
"How true, and yet I mistook it!"
From the true mistakes of metaphor a lesson can be learned.
Not only are things other than they seem,
and so we mistake them,
but that such a mistakenness is valuable.
Hold onto it, Aristotle says,
there is much to be seen and felt here.
Metaphors teach the mind
to enjoy error
and to learn
from the juxtaposition of what is and what is not the case.
There is a Chinese proverb that says,
Brush cannot write two characters with the same stroke.
that is exactly what a good mistake does.
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