My lead item in today’s earlier post was that
dumb-ass provocative op-ed in the WSJ by one Mr. Joseph Rago, an assistant editorial features editor (how does he get all that on a business card, I wonder? Or does he just use “assistant editor?). I quoted this paragraph, which, by the way, may not be The Mother of All Run-On Sentences, but is certainly the Great Aunt:
Every conceivable belief is on the scene, but the collective prose, by and large, is homogeneous: A tone of careless informality prevails; posts oscillate between the uselessly brief and the uselessly logorrheic; complexity and complication are eschewed; the humor is cringe-making, with irony present only in its conspicuous absence; arguments are solipsistic; writers traffic more in pronouncement than persuasion...
Well, here’s the first draft of that paragraph, courtesy of Iowahawk:
Every conceivable -- and inconceivable -- belief is on the scene, but the collective prose, by and large, is homogeneous: A tone of careless informality prevails; a cacaphonous miasma of perfunctory langorous bellicosity; posts oscillate between the uselessly brief and the uselessly logorrheic; cascading, tremulous arpeggios of useless prosaicity; complexity and complication are eschewed; directivity and candor and perspicacity belied; the humor is cringe-making, with irony present only in its conspicuous absence, which, when one thinks about it, is in itself ironic, creating an infinite, unintended laff-riot loop of ironic non-irony; arguments are totally solipsistic; their obviously drunk and/or crack-addled writers traffic only in pronouncement, and are loathe to employ professional-grade opinion tools like Roget's Thesaurus, or the dramatic sentence-ending ellipsis . . .
But wait! There’s more!
The way we write affects both style and substance.
The loquacious formulations of late Henry James, for instance, e.g., owe in part to his arthritis, which made longhand impossible, and instead he dictated his writing to a secretary. This is why we remember him fondly as journalism's "Great Dictator." We can also learn much from the effluvient garrolous pronunciamentos of my biggest journalistic influence, the opinion giant Irwin Corey. In this aspect, journalism as practiced via, and vis-a-vis, blog, appears, per se, to be a change for the worse, ad nauseum. Res ipsa loquitir: that is, i.e., the inferiority of the medium is rooted in its new, distinctive literary form, viz., et al. Its closest analogue might be the (poorly kept) diary, or the "honey do" chore list of a (harridan) housewife, or the note scrawled to oneself on the back of an envelope, or bathroom stall; e.g., "for a good heh, read the whole thing," or somesuch, though these things are not meant for public consumption. The reason for a blog's being is: Here's my opinion, right now.
The right now is partially a function of technology, which makes instantaneity possible, and also a function of a culture that valorizes the up-to-the-minute above all else. Ooh baby, I've been a bad topic. Blog me now, blog me hard! But there is no inherent virtue to instantaneity. Good opinion, like good wine, takes time to ferment and develop a rich, full bodied flavor with hints of oak and apricot; and, like a virtuous maiden, a good opinion waits for the right time and the right reader, and will not just throw herself like a cheap dimestore slut at the first lothario who adds her to his "little black blog book" of RSS feeds.
The “first draft” of the entire op-ed is available at the link, and it would really help if you read the original first (if you haven't already). But: put your coffee/tea/beer down before reading… you have been warned.