Something Zombie This Way Comes

on October 1, 2012 in Misc

First, a quickie factoid you might like…

Zombie bees are here. And they’re real.

I am not making this up. When I first read the headline “Zombie Bees Discovered in Washington State,” I figured this was a story in The Onion.  But nope.  Turns out the zombies are honey bees that have been infected with the eggs of a parasite, which makes them “fly at night and lurch erratically” and eventually kills them.  Shades of The Walking Dead!

You know, the more I read about real-world discoveries like this, the more impressed I am with the novels and movies and TV shows with storylines that have predicted just such phenomena.

As writers you might also be interested in something my sister the hypnotherapist told me.

She’s taking a course in a new technique that emphasizes metaphors. The instructor is the same man who created it, and what he saw, after twenty years of being a nurse specializing in neurology, is that metaphors have a HUGE impact on how we think.  He’s found that at the heart of just about anyone’s problem or anyone’s image of him/herself is a metaphor.

More than we realize, our brains and especially our subconscious think in pictures. So when a patient comes to him and says he/she is depressed, this therapist doesn’t ask useless questions like, “How do you feel?” because usually the person answers with some useless adjectives.  Instead he pushes the patient to explain what he/she really means.  Finally the patient will say something like, “I feel like I’ve hit a brick wall.”  “I’m locked in a dark room.”  “I’m on a sinking ship.” Breakthrough!  With the metaphor uncovered, treatment moves forward at lightning pace.

What my sister told me reminded me of yet another reason why Shakespeare’s language is so powerful: it’s chock-a-block with metaphors.  Great example: when Romeo sees Juliet for the first time, he speaks in one metaphor after another and another.  When he and Juliet speak to each other for the first time, it’s in a sonnet that’s all metaphors.

One of my favorite book titles is Ray Bradbury’s “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” which of course is a metaphor from Macbeth.

Then there’s the ugly side of metaphors.  I don’t want to get into gross details, but years ago I was going through a very bad, very emotional time, and the metaphor I kept using in my head literally started taking place in my body, and I ended up in the hospital.  I later read a stack of books and articles on the mind/body connection, and what psychoneuroimmunologists say (and yes, there’s a name for the specialty) is that the body can take literally what the mind is thinking metaphorically.

So tonight as I head off to bed I’m gonna tell myself that I’m floating on air, everything’s coming up roses, I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.

I’d love to hear if you have a few metaphors at the center of your life or in your writing.

12 Responses to “Something Zombie This Way Comes”

  1. We become what we think!
    Freaky about the bees.

  2. Helena says:

    Alex — So be careful what you think…

  3. Analogies can be a great boon to writing. What I don’t like is when people draw comparisons that simply aren’t true. Or they draw comparisons that don’t make any sense. Example: Recently Paul Ryan said, “We need to get these replacement referees out of there (of the NFL crisis) just like we need to get Obama out of the white house.” These two things are not the same. The NFL had a strike/lockout. Obama is a sitting president duly elected by the American people in 2008 and is in no way, “a replacement.” It’s absurd.

    You might as well say, “Jerry Sandusky is going to jail for raping boys at Penn State, and I don’t see why we don’t do the same thing with Obama.” It’s a ludicrous metaphor/comparison.

    I see MANY bad comparisons used by writers who seem clueless. I read a sci-fi book by an indie author that compared a monster who attacked and ate the head OFF OF A HORSE to making a “horrific noise” that sounded like a woman giving birth to a child.

    How the hell do people come up with these metaphors? I wrote the author and said “Many people revere child birth. It is not horrific, and the sound of a woman in pain bringing life into this world varies from person to person. But I don’t see how you could draw a connection between a horse head eating monster and a woman on a table bringing a baby into this world.”

    And it doesn’t stop there. Awkward metaphors and similies and analogies. I think people really need to think about what they write and make sure that they are compatible. It’s like those IQ tests that you take as a child where one thing is not like the other three. Some people get it and others don’t and think anything can be compared.

  4. Helena says:

    Michael – Comparing a monster chowing down on a horse to a woman giving birth IS ridiculous. I reminds me of the wonderfully funny entries in the annual Edward Bulwar-Lytton “It was a dark and stormy night” contest for the worst sentence. But then the people who enter are TRYING to write awful sentences with bad metaphors. Here’s a winning example:

    She gazed smolderingly at the mysterious rider, his body cloaked in enough shining black leather to outfit an Italian furniture store, wrapped so tightly each muscle stood out like a flamboyant Mexican hairdresser at an Alabamian monster truck rally; and he met her gaze with an intensity that couldn’t have been matched by even a starving junkyard dog in the meat aisle of a suburban supermarket.

    And I really love this one:

    They kissed with the fury and suction of a dart that was shot onto the back of the bus driver’s fat bald head by the red-headed kid that was too big for his age (the rumor was he was “held back”) and everyone knew was going to end up in prison, or perhaps a prop comic if he straightened out in time.

  5. I have to remember not to think “OMG! I ate all that ice cream. I’m such a pig.” right before I go to bed :)

  6. Helena says:

    Carol – Exactly! What you want to think is “OMG! I ate all that ice cream. I’m so sweet and lovely.”

  7. Ciara Knight says:

    I wish you could have seen me open your web page today. That picture made me nearly scream. I literally gasped. LOL

  8. Helena says:

    Ciara – I should have warned you that the zombi kitty bees are coming!

  9. Clara Soister says:

    Zombie Bees! Now there’s an interesting metaphor! Thanks for the unofficial plug of sorts! I am loving the metaphor work and how it’s completely shifted how I do coaching & therapy. It’s interesting how many more metaphors I hear in a day now that my ears are primed for them. It’s completely shifted how I look at my dreams too.. And I will certainly be on the alert for what I think before drifting off to sleep!! Nicely stated!

  10. Helena says:

    Clara – Interesting how you and I both work in metaphors but in different ways — you with therapy and me with writing. It’s a kind of universal energy.

    Let me know when your website is up, ’cause I’m really looking forward to it.

  11. Old Kitty says:

    Erm… my legs turned to water when I swallowed whole the story about zombie bees?!??! :-)

    Take care

  12. Helena says:

    Old Kitty – At least the bees don’t have kitty heads, like in the picture. Then they’d be even creepier.