Meaningless Metaphor

I’ve become a huge fan of Meaningless Metaphor, which claims “This is a social experiment about communication. It is human nature to look at something and try to make meaning out of it. No matter how much meaning you think there is in these pieces, there really isn’t. In fact, I wore one of these images on a t-shirt the other day and could see people look at my shirt and try to figure it out. The joke is on them because…It doesn’t mean anything.”




13 Responses to Meaningless Metaphor
  1. Doss
    June 19, 2010 | 6:12 pm

    What if the first shirt does in fact have meaning? The people of the world are moving slow like turtles, the cigarette is death. The turtle smoking the cigarette is like people speeding along their death, which will come when the grenade pin is pulled.

  2. Ben
    June 19, 2010 | 7:27 pm

    You might be able to find meaning in them but it is like looking at the clouds. Just because you see meaning in it doesn’t mean there is any.

  3. John
    June 19, 2010 | 9:34 pm

    If you can find meaning in it, then it does in fact have meaning for you. Whether or not a piece of art, or a book, or a cloud has any meaning is entirely determined by the observer.

  4. Walter Klemens
    June 20, 2010 | 11:53 pm

    all meaning is personal
    no meaning is real
    all reality is meaning

  5. Josh
    June 21, 2010 | 4:11 pm

    1. All wisdom in the world is trumped by our hasty decisions to act violently.

    2. We care about ourselves more than the good of others. If we tire of our everyday burdens, we rest without thinking of those in pain.

    3. As humans, although we want the truth much of the time, we want to live in lies as long as they’re comfortable. If it reassures us, we’re fine with it being a lie.

    4. Our obsession with material goods overshadows the joy of life.

    Dang, this is so true!

  6. Bellabie
    June 24, 2010 | 11:02 am

    I am amused by the dissolution into existentialism.

  7. Mike
    June 24, 2010 | 7:22 pm

    All symbols have meaning, regardless of weather or not the author meant it or not. People don’t live in a vacuum, we are influenced by a large number of internal and external factors that dictate our actions. Because of this we can analyze symbols without needing the author’s input, its all in the symbol. And so, you can just go ahead and have fun giving meaning to the symbols, because any meaning you give it is valid.

  8. Rouenpucelle
    June 24, 2010 | 8:37 pm

    Lol, before I read any of the comments, I wrote this:

    These symbols aren’t truly meaningless because they’re not truly random. The designer chose the symbols. Even if the symbols meant nothing to him/her consciously, subconsciously I think all symbols have great meaning.

  9. Sean
    June 24, 2010 | 10:09 pm

    I’m just going to point out that percieved meaning and meaning are totally different things. The *meaning* of something by definition is what it is intended to represent. If you read a word in a foreign language and presume its meaning to be something that it isn’t, then that does not make the meaning you derived from it valid. It may represent something to your mind and thusly you ascribe that meaning to the image in your own head but that does not give the image meaning. If I ascribe the meaning of “bloodshed and extreme violence” to the French word escargot in my own head the word doesn’t suddenly stop meaning “snail”. Similarly if I ascribe the meaning of “happiness and intense joy” to the not-actually-real word “Flomplewuffle” the word doesn’t suddenly stop meaning absolutely nothing at all.

  10. Eric
    June 25, 2010 | 1:06 am

    It does have meaning. All of them do. The meaning is simply that people look for meaning in places where they may be none. That is what it says in the very beginning. So to create a piece with a “meaningless metaphor” is a paradox. It is impossible.

  11. mybromosexual
    June 25, 2010 | 2:28 am

    that thar grenade is as green as a turtle. herp a derp.

  12. raine
    May 24, 2011 | 7:32 am

    I’m just going to reference you to the following readings:

    Roland Barthes: “Death of the Author” found in Mythologies.

    Derrida: Of Grammatology

    Umberto Eco: The Open Work

    The joke is on you if you believe that these signs lack meaning because you did not fill them with meaning.

  13. crakkityjones
    July 29, 2011 | 4:25 pm

    Technically, and this is the ONLY time I will ever say this about website comments – all the comments on this page are correct.

    Why? Because there is no wrong or right answer. You are all deciding what this means or doesn’t mean, and for once all your arguments are valid.

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