"Metaphorical" and "real" are not opposites. Our eyes, along with all our receptors, blend the two. They create an image out of sensory information. They make, for the mind, sense of what is seen - they shape, gather, organize. It is impossible to decipher what is being seen and what is created by the mind/eyes. Trying to do this is ultimately pointless. I don't know what to make of people who say that they cannot trust accumulated experience. What else have we got to go on?
The point is -
It's all metaphor, folks. And metaphor is all real. At its most fundamental, metaphor is not just saying, "this is like this."
It is saying "this is this." It is the act of creation. It is world-altering change. It is the making of something out of nothing. It is life-breathing. We are not creating works of art that are a representation of something else - why would we bother? No, we are doing the real deal.
Our urge - our drive - our need - our call - "is this," over and over again. Pearlized layers of desire upon desire coalesce. I'm singing a snatch from a Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber tune.