A retraction on the loss of metaphors
I wrote you sometime back bemoaning the loss, somewhat tounge-in-cheek, of some of our cultural metaphors to political correctness. You’d used the term “tar baby,” and I’d run into a host of younger co-workers that particular week who didn’t understand the term, had never heard of Brer Rabbit, and who didn’t even know that Disney had ever considered producing anything as blatently racist (in modern terms) as “Song of the South.”
I’ve got to take that all back. Somewhat belatedly, I’m reading Neil Gaiman’s _Anansi Boys_, where he correctly re-tells the tar baby story in something close to the original African fairy tale style. Of course, in the story it is Anansi’s children who set up the Tar Man, not Brer Rabbit’s tar baby. In the story, it is Anansi himself who gets stuck due to perniciousness and greed.
Of course, most of my co-workers have never heard of Anansi, either, and only no a little mythology, either because of exposure in an elective freshman college course (Gods forbid we teach mythology in high school any more) or via secondary exposure in more shallow fiction.
Gaiman is keeping a lot of the old mythology alive and in context. I guess that we’re really not losing the metaphors so much as having them corrected.