Wisdom and Metaphor


136 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 1-894031-78-4
DDC C814'.54






Reviewed by Allison Sivak

Allison Sivak is a librarian in the Science and Technology Library at
the University of Alberta.


Wisdom and Metaphor is a substantial book in every aspect: thick,
wonderfully designed, and dense in its investigation of the
possibilities of poetics. The book is a deeply rigorous work of poetic
philosophy that is beautifully presented, making it a challenging but
pleasurable read.

Its design has been carefully considered in order to facilitate our
understanding of and even illustrate the ideas that Zwicky puts forward.
For example, the author contends that metaphor is affected by both space
and time, and the text of the book is laid out with much white space.
This prompts the reader to read more slowly and to spend more time
considering the text; thus, space and time have an impact on our reading
about metaphor. Each spread of pages shows Zwicky’s writing on the
left-hand side and quotations from other writers on the right,
juxtaposing the scholarly and the lyrical, as the author notes. The
pages of each spread are numbered identically, with the text on the left
page aligned to the left and that on the right page aligned to the
right, an approach that makes each spread a contained whole. This is a
visual play on a key investigation the author has undertaken in the
book—that of gestalt or “the dawning of an aspect that is
simultaneously a perception or reperception of a whole.”

However, all this attention to the format is not to ignore content. The
text is written in aphorisms, keeping the abstract ideas—which build
upon one another as the reader continues—manageable enough to consider
more deeply. Zwicky employs works from philosophy, mathematics, poetry,
and linguistics to foreground her own writing, functioning to further
spin the points she makes.

Wisdom and Metaphor is an outstanding example of small-press printing,
a true collaboration between the author and the press, and a fascinating
philosophical work that will continue to provide insight as it is


Zwicky, Jan., “Wisdom and Metaphor,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 24, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/17849.