In a sense Bonsai is a metaphor in that this little tree/bush/shrub is being compared to a mature ancient tree growing on the mountain side. The Literati is even more so because it does not fill a niche other than it's own, with the exception of an evidence of age and associated wear and tear. It could be said also that the Literati is the more plausible of forms existing in our imaginations but seldom seen in nature in the ways we perceive them. In other word is should exist, and it could exist most certainly somewhere but does it?
We see the Formal Upright, the Informal Upright, the Slanting, The Wind Swept, the Twisted, the Semi-cascade and even rarely the Cascade. All of the fathomable forms we have learned over the years have there roots in the real and tangible forms we see in nature almost every-where. Though all the bonsai imitating these forms could be said to be metaphorical, it is the Literati that is least definable. It's metaphor is found in another ill-defined term mentioned above---plausible. It is a figment of our imagination. Dare I make so bold a statement as to suggest that the Literati is the manifestation of our deepest feelings about the simplicity of bonsai, less hindered by standards of form, shape, and style, but dependant upon our desire to express an idea for its own sake.