Magazine article The American Conservative

Old and Right

Magazine article The American Conservative

Old and Right

Article excerpt

The Socialist is mistaken in thinking that there is nothing real behind the phrases "rights of property" "for king and country" On the contrary, there is, and it is exactly what I or any other young Conservative holds. But I should never dream of expressing myself by those phrases, because to the younger generation they don't carry any conviction. When I hear them used from the platform I always feel slightly uncomfortable, although I agree with the attitude from which they spring.

The phrases feel dead in exactly the same way as cliches in bad poetry do. It is only by a certain unexpectedness of phrasing that a certain feeling of conviction is carried over, and you feel that the man was actually describing something real, that he had seen something at first hand. In verse one chooses fresh epithets and fresh metaphors, not so much because they are new and we are tired of the old as because the old cease to convey over the actual vivid meaning that we intend.

Nowadays, when one says that the hill is clothed with trees, the word suggests no physical comparison. One doesn't have a picture as the man who first used the word did, of a definite realization of the metaphor. There is no vivid analogy in your mind of the hill being actually clothed as a woman might be. To get the original visual effect one would have to say "ruffed" with trees, or use some other new metaphor.

The point is that any metaphor or image in time becomes conventionalized, and so ceases to convey any real concrete meaning. …

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