Treating metaphors as merelycolorful ways of saying things can irritate them, and sometimes they bite. In a local arts & culture magazine, an aricle about how hard it was to restore Emily Dickinson's house. It was helped by the discovery of some fragments of wall paper still adhering to surfaces. "Discovery of the wall paper fragments...lit a a fire under museum directors and the board of governors," the article says. "Not that the fire was quick to burn," he continues, giving us time to beat out the metaphorical flames consuming Emily's home.
From an article in the 0online NYRB by Glen H. Shepherd about photiographs of the now-nonexistent Selk'nam people of Tierra del Fuego: "There is something bewitchingly surreal about his photographs of the Hain initiation ceremony, in which young Selk’nam men are hazed by a pantheon of spirits that are revealed, in the final moments (forbidden to women), to be kinsmen in elaborate masks." An African people I read about have an inititation for young men in which weird sounds are heard in the bush, and the young men are dared to follow the sounds. When they have sufficiently faced their terror of the spirit world the elders appear and show them how the sound is made, with what in English is called a bullroarer. Basically the older men induct the younger into the facts of the world: we are the gods you fear. It's like a child being told there's no Santa Claus, it's Dad in the red suit, but don't tell the younger ones.
Women aren't part of these intitiation ceremonies -- theirs turn on menstruation and other secrets -- maybe they already guess these male secrets, or maybe they don't care.
Wouldn't it be interseting if our churches worked the same way -- you believe and pray and have magic helpers and angels and speak to Grandma in heaven, and then when you grow up your "confirmation" is actually to learn it's all not so; it's a means or a divine game but not a set of facts, and we ourselves are its origin. "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things."
Reading "The Real Life of Sebastian Knight" for reasons that will be clear when my Harper's essay-after-next (November) appears. It's the best example I know -- there are many -- of the novel that contains summaries or selections of novels written by a character, to varied effect. (Nabokov's mostly to discharge ideas that sound wonderful but really couldn't be written.)