When I was a small boy and my friends and I walked along the railroad tracks, we looked for unused spikes. Designed to be hammered into the wooden ties that held the rails in place so to assure rolling stock safe passage, not a single such spike was even vaguely reminiscent of the famous Golden Spike hammered ceremoniously into the track at Ogden, Utah, in 1869 and thus loudly announcing the completion of our intercontinental railroad.

Today, spikes are extrusions, not intrusions. A few decades ago, a French historian coined the term an “erupting event” to signify what we now so frequently call a “spike.”

In the debacle called the current civil war in Iraq, insurgency numbers and military casualties are spiked, tearing upward from the crazy quilt of war. 

Ours is a time of the Dominant Visual, when graphs and charts and a plethora of brilliant colors lead our eyes to conclusions heretofore left to the harsh monochromes bequeathed by the Enlightenment.

As for spikes, a railroad, industrial product and metaphor, they are fictions grounded—or uplifted--only in our peacock-colored imagination.