About

It is a weblog, a famous invention of 1997 (aka “the dark times”)

My name is Mike. I lecture in English and writing at the University of Waterloo. I got my PhD there.

My thesis is/was about metonymy in the works of Charles Dickens and George Gissing. Metonymy is like metaphor, but super cool and subtle. Metaphor shows up in poetry, but metonymy shows up more in realist novels. Whereas metaphor discovers a similarity between two totally different domains of experience or knowledge, metonymy enacts a subtle shift within a single domain.

Here, take a look:

Metaphor: “His eyes are diamonds.”

(Eyes and diamonds are generally unrelated.)

Metonymy: “I can’t find my keys. Could you help? I need good set of eyes.”

(Eyes have to do with seeing and looking.)

We also use metonymy in performative speech acts (think J.L. Austin) and conversational implicature (think H.P. Grice), such as when you say something like, “Jeez, d’ya think you could maybe clean your room?” when you really mean, “Please clean your damn room.” 

In my undergrad I wrote for and eventually edited Volume 42 of Golden Words Newspaper at Queen’s University in Kingston ON. It is a comedy paper. We put together 12-24 pages of content each week. We lured new writers with the promise of free pizza and Pakistani cuisine. Sometimes on Wednesdays after a press meeting we played Starcraft on the computers.

I have this blog on the internet now because I like writing things, and I also like organizing my thoughts by writing things.

I don’t have a good answer as to why I chose “Refined Robot” as a name or a domain. Sorry.