I observed Mount Hood early in the morning March 3, traveling north bound on Oregon Hwy 205. A cloud cap was on top. Excited I recorded a picture in my Mole Skin pocket book and wrote a few words of interpretation as a title - " a wave of frothy clouds breaking over Mt. Hood." After thinking about my experience, I wrote and listened to my thoughts as I read out loud with the hopes that I would be able to communicate my excitement as a simile:
Like sea foam, clouds churn over the crest of Mount Hood.
Although I am an artist, I will make some scientific observations about communicating feelings in my 2-d pictures as well as my word pictures.
Theory 1: People associate new stimuli with familiar stimuli of a different nature. For example I have been painting ocean waves last month so when I saw an unusual cloud formation over Mt. Hood, I saw the clouds on the mountain similar in shape to foam on waves peaking and beginning to break.
A good theory should be repeatable in other examples. Genesis paints a picture in words: To explain the energy and nature of creation to an agrarian people, God is likened to a human taking actions. A most awesome activity of man is making potery as potter god made a female companion from dirt and a rib of Adam. It is ludicrous to think that the early Israelites of Mose's time would be moved to feel they are a people and want to obey the law if their book began with creation explained by the details uncovered thousands of years later. The periodic table would be difficult for them to memorize and uplift their behavior.
Another example is Darwin who was untrained in science yet developed the theory of evolution and descent of species. His observation of nature was contradictory to his education as a clergyman with attention to the Bible. Being familiar with Genesis, Darwin saw the discrepancy between the verses of Genesis and the changes of size between fossils and living animals. Gregor Mendel and August Wesmann from the same period were genetics who did more accurate and scientifically correct work, however they are less well known because they didn't give the all encompassing ideas of evolution boldly explained. Darwin was an example of seeing the new stimuli that did not correlate with his familiar Bible.
Theory 2: Similes are not scientific law. A no brainer truth! Yet today many intelligent people believe Biblical verses are to be read literally as the word of God. Why, I ask, wouldn't God select poetic inspiration kindeling feelings of awe for nature, reveal a reflection of history to instruct and to promote the self -esteem of humans believing that they are made in the image of God. Self-esteem is necessary to raise the bar of their own expectations. Having high self opinion, people are made ready to accept and abide and teach laws to survive as a people. Why would God impart a scientific knowledge like periodic charts to a agricultural people? Instead I see the wisdom is taught through elements not the same as the wisdom but similar to what is known by the early Israelites. Like the Biblical verse pictures record a phenomena with elements that are different from what is being depicted. So in emotional contexts, poetic simile functions as a communication of emotion and never can be observed as scientific fact or law.