Saturday, December 5, 2009

Trying to Essay

( with inspiration from http://www.paulgraham.com/essay.html )

The astute reader may note that this follows a long period of silence here. This derives less from a lack of time compared to a lack of topics to write about. There's nothing happening in my life so thrilling that I feel it obligatory to expound in long form; 140 characters is generally more than plenty for daily occurrences. It avoids the forced literary diarrhea of excessively long and descriptive sentences, filled with a multitude of adjectives and words of more than 8 letters. It is an avoidance of technical exercises in tempo and rhyme and 14-line poems.

But if clear thinking begets clear writing, and clear writing conveys meaning, then unclear, meandering writing is certainly the sign of a mind trying less to be clear as it is looking for a therapeutic release of thought. The goal is less to present a coherent thought, but a picture of sorts, with sentences providing brush strokes towards the final result, a mosaic that portrays a general sense of feeling. And if art can exist for art's sake, then so too can there be writing for writing's sake, writing that strives to convey emotion or confusion, writing that is deliberately obtuse.

I say this in the context of a recent century where many of the literary greats prided themselves on such obtuseness. Joyce's later works are notorious for such, and later authors such as Thomas Pynchon and David Foster Wallace are even more in such a line. Henry Miller may be less difficult, but is just as meandering, and makes up for it in obscenity.

Anyhow, maybe I should work random anecdotes from my life into 500-word treatises; maybe I should spend that doing circumlocution of interesting work happenstance; maybe I should just post more book reviews and constrained poems. None of those sound terribly exciting, but they might be better than the alternative.

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