I already know the basic meaning of metonymy (e.g. In "Washington passed the bill." the word "Washington" stands in for "the government"). I also know that metonymy is a form of nebeneinander (side-by-side positioning--as opposed to a metaphorical superimposition). However, there appear to be a number of other dimensions to the term that elude me.
For instance, the Wikipedia article claims that "sometimes, metaphor and metonymy can both be at work in the same figure of speech" and while I (somewhat) grasp the idea, the first part of my question is regarding which of the devices takes precedence in such a case, and whether a new semantic economy emerges out of such an interaction.
I would also like to refer to Elaine Freedgood's The Ideas in Things: Fugitive Meaning in the Victorian Novel (http://bit.ly/reading-things). Freedgood argues that there are "weak" and "strong" varieties of metonymy in (Victorian) literature. If I understand the notion correctly, the former is an instance of merely positioning things next to each other (e.g. "There was a desk, a chair, and a book in the room.), whereas the latter allows for an analytical insight (e.g. perhaps into a specific kind of desk, chair, or book, or the specific interaction between the objects placed alongside one another).
However, Freedgood ultimately concludes that "metonymy is, rhetorically, both too weak and too strong: it tends toward the conventional, the obvious, the literal, the material--if often conjures up the real so successfully that its status as a trope seems to disappear" (12). This still confuses me, because in this context the "weak" and "strong" readings seem to become entirely subjective, dependent on two unstable factors: the reader's status as insider/outsider of the culture to which the objects belong, and the reader's skill of "reading" the object metonymically. Thus, the second part of my question is whether there can be such a thing as a "solid-state" metonymic manifestation (or reading).