As the economic crisis seizes the American imagination, we turn to horrific and grotesque language to grapple with it.
There's the toilet metaphor, showing the economy as, well, a pile of crap:
That's a pretty limited version, though. Although scatological, it's not at Rabelasian levels, suggesting some optimism remains. The blogger is holding back instead of cutting loose, being rhetorically continent, clenching the... you get the idea.
John Robb offers a less sphincter-minded metaphor, but one drawing on a political vision familiar to Gothic readers. It's the bad state - not a tyranny, but a doddering scam presiding over dangerous villains:
Notice the language of simulation and emptiness suggested by the language of hollow shells. it reminds me of this haunting, possibly accidental phrase from an economist's blog posting:
so many real things lie in ruins: a corporate paradigm displaying no shred of responsibility, but eager for rescue by taxpayers; a military leadership’s implicit promise to its recruits and their families; a public discourse commodified into channels that feed any given preacher’s resentments to a self-selecting chorus. In these déjà vu battles, the combatants forever escape one another’s final judgment, whirl off into the void, leaving us standing awed in the rubble, uncertain of what we’ve seen, only sure we’re primed for the sequel.
If everything is broken, perhaps it is because for the moment we like it better that way. Unlike some others, I have no theory who Batman is — but the Joker is us. [emphasis added]
The sheer complexity of these problems might help explain why this rhetorical move is so compelling. But it's also the fact that this crisis is, to pick up the first metaphor, some scary shit.