During my attendance in a weekend workshop with David Edmund Moody who wrote An Uncommon Collaboration, the relationship between J. Krishnamurti (philosopher/psychologist) and David Bohm (high energy physicist), two men he was lucky enough to experience, I was faced with a major learning experience from one of the participants.
Near the end of our workshop, someone (I’d had a positive relationship with during our luncheons and dinners) responded to an example I gave, an offshoot of my research. He characterized my example as a metaphor.
My experience of metaphor was from my fiction-writing and poetry background: a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable. So, of course, in trying to help, who I thought were, spiritually centered people to understand how the observer can be the observed (something K stresses and they wondered about) I felt frustrated that they seemed to come away thinking my example was not literally applicable to answer their question.
This is the example I gave:
Given a ball of soft clay, push your little finger into it. As you do, the clay experiences the pressure of the finger and gets a hole the shape of the finger. The finger experiences the resistance of the clay as it penetrates the clay.
When I responded by saying metaphor was not the proper word or definition of my example, someone stated that the way I phrased my protest was incorrect. Then I cited what K said about the word not being the experience.
From my research, that includes physical behaviors of low energy systems, I knew that in this finger-in-clay was a simple case of action/reaction, form/function, and observer/observed. What I was describing was right-on the actual mechanism of observer/observed and not a metaphor. I felt several of the followers had their critique hats on, rather than being open to my simple, hopefully helpful example.
At that point, a participant asked what’s the observer, what’s the observed in my finger-in-clay example?
Even though K has warned against thinking of the world in dualistic terms, when working with simple systems/things, many times pressure across a boundary (like between finger and clay) changes the shape of that boundary (the shape of the boundary becomes the function of the boundary: its shape will only function to allow another finger of the same shape to enter).
In physics, The General Energy Equation says the value of CURVATURE (of the boundary) times the (TENSION of the boundary) is equal to one thing THE PRESSURE DROP ACROSS THE BOUNDARY. This is not a metaphor.
David Bohm used the word METAPHOR in his discussions with K and in his subsequent inspiration concerning K’s ideas. So let’s take a look at what Bohm thought his metaphor was (maybe what my participant friend was thinking about when he said the word “metaphor”):
In the beginning of mining information about Bohm’s Metaphor, articles first point out that this word-idea is from the point of view of a high-energy physicist. There are problems with finding real examples in high-energy physics (real world experiments in high-energy being expensive and theories, rather than actual known physical behaviors, abound). In this way, K and B were both on the wavelength of human-centered thought (the most complex systems one can imagine, where metaphors might abound).
All the articles (I looked at in trying to understand if the word “metaphor” was different for Bohm) seemed to indicate he thought his examples were true poetic metaphors (I don’t know that I agree with that given his exemplary examples of folding and unfolding explicit ink droplets). In my low-energy droplet experiments, we can see the boundary of an unstable expanding droplet and we can run inexpensive experiments that represent themselves (the actual physical behavior of the universe in normal space-time, or, at least, its analog).
A mathematical analog is the same universal behavior, just, perhaps, on a different scale.