Misuse of the Potential of the Conveyor Metaphor: Recognition of the Circular Dynamic Essential to its Operation

by Anthony Judge


The conveyor belt is used metaphorically in the light of the common experience of people conveyors. That experience obscures important dynamic characteristics fundamental to the viability of such technology. These features may be understood as a vital enrichment of the metaphor to preclude dangerous simplifications in the dynamics of situations where the metaphor is typically applied. A comparison is made between the application of the metaphor to spiritual development and to an understanding of the operation of ocean conveyors – most notably the Gulf Stream. In both cases the impoverishment of the metaphor, as currently used, fails to reinforce an understanding of the vital circular dynamic (with its necessary transformative twists). These may be essential to more insightful strategic responses to situations, such as the drugs trade, where the metaphor may typically be used as a simplistic explanatory device — reinforcing articulation of simplistic strategies.

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