the charisma of an upended loaf of sliced white bread

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ironman2012

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi,

We are expected to get excited about skyscrapers simply on the basis of their height, an attribute that is supposed to make us overlook the fact that everything else about them is banal and exceptionally uninteresting. Most towers have all the charisma of an upended loaf of sliced white bread. With few exceptions, everything about them, bar their height, is banal to the point of catatonia.

(This comes from Sunday 28 September 2003 The guardian In a glass of its own. It's about Norman Foster's controversial new tower in the City of London)

Could you tell me what the bold part means? What is the charm or appeal for an upended loaf of bread?

Thanks in advance!
 
  • wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    The point is that it has none at all. This expression is a form of bathos: a sort of overstated anti-climax.

    I once heard a chess move described as having 'all the subtlety of a rhinoceros on heat'.
     

    ironman2012

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    The point is that it has none at all. This expression is a form of bathos: a sort of overstated anti-climax.

    I once heard a chess move described as having 'all the subtlety of a rhinoceros on heat'.
    Thank you, but I don't understand it. Is it an idiom or what?
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    No it is not an idiom. It is a metaphor that the author has created for this piece of text. Sliced white bread is the most uninteresting and tasteless type of bread that can be bought. An upended loaf of sliced white bread has no charm or charisma whatsoever. The writer thinks that most tall buildings are equally uninteresting and unappealing.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    It is a figure of speech - overstated anti-climax - and it is a recognised form of words.

    If we say someone has all the strength of a two-ton bull, we mean he is extremely strong.
    This is an over-statement, but it is intended positively.

    If we say he has all the strength of a starved mouse, we mean he is extremely weak.
    This is an over-statement which sounds (from the form of words) as if it were a positive one: but it is really a negative one.
     
    Last edited:

    Aardvark01

    Senior Member
    British English (Midlands)
    The author goes on to describe tower blocks in general as:

    "... a stack of identical floors, one on top of the other."

    This is how they resemble a loaf of sliced bread, while Foster's 'Gherkin' is a clear exception to this rule.
     
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