Like a double-edged knife, the creative mind cuts to the truth of self and the humanity of others.

The normal meaning of "cut" fits with the word "knife" but the whole meaning of sentence isn't clear.

So could you please explain it to me?

The fuller text:

Does being a good storyteller make you a good leader? Not necessarily, but if you understand the principles of storytelling, you probably have a good understanding of yourself and of human nature, and that tilts the odds in your favor. I can teach the formal principles of stories, but not to a person who hasn’t really lived. The art of storytelling takes intelligence, but it also demands a life experience that I’ve noted in gifted fi lm directors: the pain of childhood. Childhood trauma forces you into a kind of mild schizophrenia that makes you see life simultaneously in two ways: First, it’s direct, realtime experience, but at the same moment, your brain records it as material—material out of which you will create business ideas, science, or art. Like a double-edged knife, the creative mind cuts to the truth of self and the humanity of others.


1 Answer 1


I would say, if I am honest, that the author is torturing a metaphor which does not really fit. A good editor would have suggested a rewrite, I suspect.

However, that's not what you need to know.

"To cut" is often used in idiomatic ways to indicate "to take a quick route towards", both methaphorically ("cut to the chase") and literally ("take a short cut home").

The author is suggesting a person with a "creative mind" can quickly obtain ("cut to") an understanding of "[a] the truth of self and [b] the humanity of others".

The author is also suggesting that the metaphorical knife 'cuts' in two ways ([a] and [b]) - hence it is "double-edged". Again, I find it an unhelpful metaphor, but that's what they are trying to say.

As to what "the truth of self" is, I don't have the foggiest notion. It's the sort of quasi-philosophical flim-flam I find hard to understand, where pretentious words are sometimes use to obscure muddled thinking. But that's just my (highly biased) perspective.

  • 3
    It’s worth pointing out that typically “cuts both ways” is used to say that something has both a positive and negative (from one perspective) effect not two positive effects. Or maybe benefits and disadvantages would be a better way to express it. idioms.thefreedictionary.com/cut+both+ways
    – ColleenV
    Mar 11, 2019 at 20:02
  • I see nothing wrong with it. Cut to the truth can mean go directly to it. And here the knife has two blades....
    – Lambie
    Mar 11, 2019 at 20:41
  • @Lambie Just my personal and entirely subjective view.
    – fred2
    Mar 11, 2019 at 21:19

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