– WALTER KIRN, Blood Will Out (2014)
Behold Kirn’s triple metaphor – with three uncanny images in series. The notion of motion (falling through space) holds the images together. On the way down, the mirror reminds us of the backwards world of Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Saw There. Past the pane, a whirlpool swirls reality in yet another way – an aquatically plausible/psychologically inevitable end to a long, dangerous dive.
Triple metaphors are rare, and seldom elegant. Here is an example uttered by yours truly in the heat of discussion in January 2017:
We’re trying to unravel this puzzle with the wrong tools.
Next level: Is a quadruple metaphor possible in real-world English? Considering the swan in “swan dive” as an embedded metaphor, you could credit Kirn with a quad.
Photo: R.M. Stigersand at the 1948 Olympic Games, National Media Museum (UK) via Wikipedia