What is foreshadowing?
Foreshadowing is an indication of the future.
For instance, I might tell you here that I like to sum up an idea with a relevant quote.
And then, after another paragraph or two, if I did just that – that would be foreshadowing.
Get it? Simple, right?
Most often, foreshadowing is used as a literary device to tell of something yet to come.
The problem is that in real life we often do this in reverse.
- “I knew they were going to get divorced two years ago.”
- “When she said that, I knew she would never get the promotion.”
- And, “I could tell in middle school that she would become a doctor.”
It’s just a story we tell ourselves – a Monday morning quarterbacking – I told you so.
And, I think, it’s usually a lie.
This giving a reason to everything post hoc is also common in the financial press.
Here is the script.
Look for the markets to do something – and then look at anything in the last 24 hours that could have plausibly caused it.
We’reprobably all subject to what the literary critic Gary Saul Morson calls “backshadowing”—“ foreshadowing after the fact,” that is, the temptation to believe that we can look into the past and discern some point at which the present became inevitable. (“ I should have seen it coming!”)
-Alan Jacobs, How To Think