Analogies and Banalogies

InSurfaces and Essences“, Douglas Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sander suggest that “analogy-making defines each instant of thought”. We build bridges between objects, actions and situations. Analogies help us to think and act in new situations and analogies help us to build new categories.

Yet the term analogy is seldom used in everyday conversations and when the term is used it often refers to something special. The term is used to refer to a special and exacting even thought-provoking link between entities. But perhaps most analogies are banal everyday connections – banalogies.

Banalogies are situations when we say “Exactly” or “Precisely what I thought”.  We are simply saying that this is something that we have already noticed and are familiar with. We are simply saying “Me too”.

Is there any point in spending time thinking about this at all?

Well, understanding everyday sayings and rather banal remarks can help to sharpen our analogical thinking. It might even lead to new categories and insights. The link between two objects, or actions may not be what we first thought and by twisting and turning an everyday banalogy we might stumble upon something exciting.

The overall aim with the example below is to show why looking at banalogies, non provocative and everyday analogies, can be fruitful. This is carried out using the following steps.
  • identification of banalogy
  • reflecting over the banalogy – which is this case involves an invented word
  • using the reflection to invent or design something new and exciting – in this case a new game
  • creating a new word for the game
Do you know Harry Potter’s books: they are playing a special game, from Dutch translated it is called heaven ball

“In the Netherlands, the game Quidditch is called “heaven ball” if you translate it from Dutch.

“Yes, exactly!”

Just what happens when we think that Quidditch,  played in the Harry Potter books, can be compared to heaven ball?

The Golden Snitch is the third and smallest ball used in Quidditch and this gold-coloured sphere has  silver wings.  Angels in heaven have wings and this link is perhaps the reason why we instantly see this is an everyday banalogy. It is like heaven to play a fictional game.

Golden_SnitchBut the game could also be seen as a serious game –  a life and death game. This is in contrast to the Muggle quidditch where the fun part of the game is highlighted. So maybe we could create a new game a utopia game where we create a future world just like heaven by spinning a ball. So now we need a new name for this game.


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