metaphor. I love metaphors – they are so much less fickle than similes, which require a prefatory ‘like’ or ‘as’. And the inherent symbolic comparison strike the reader as much more powerful.
Giambattista Vico believed that each era of humanity has a linguistic equivalent. The divine age, associated with the Ancient world, was when man found himself in nature and used metaphor to explain natural occurrences, the lightning bolt of Zeus for example. The heroic age of feudalism was one of metonymy, which were supported by figures in charge, like the baron and king, representative of their estate and the serfs over whom they ruled. And finally the democratic age is one of irony – the barbarism of reflection eventually leading back into the poetic age of the divine, a.k.a. post postmodernism.
Yes, I’d like to believe that the age of irony is at a close and that we will soon return to a simpler Golden Age, when words were more symbolic than literal. But listen to me blabbing on about metaphor. Here's a good one: my girlfriend is mad at me and said that my words were like spears piercing into her flesh. Makes me sound like a killer, right?