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  1. #1

    Interesting article

    I came across this article and thought to share it:


  2. #2


    Unfortunately, the mindset behind this kind of writing (if one could call it that) infects not only English departments but government bureaucracies as well.

  3. #3
    Jane Forsman

    Re: Scary!

    Thanks for sharing that, Davis. I couldn't get through any of the examples at all! I think I'm one of those people who, if a professor passed me a sheet with that sort of writing during a class, would nod and pretend like I understood it. I've had to run for my dictionary too mahy times this morning, first for "epitemology," and now for every word in that article. ;-)

  4. #4

    Re: Scary!

    There are few things in life that scare me. That article is one of them.

    I recently ran into an old friend who proudly told me that she was going back to college to get a degree in English Lit. When I asked why, she said, "Because I want to be a writer."

    I'm still biting my tongue.

  5. #5
    Keith Cronin

    Re: Scary!

    That reminds me of this site, which can generate infinite amounts of intellectual-sounding text that is pure crap.


    Funny, but scary - one guy managed to get some of this auto-generated drivel PUBLISHED.



  6. #6
    Purana Purdy

    Re: Scary!


    The author of the article fails to define what is good and what is bad. These are highly subjective terms.Because he objects to the STYLE of the narrative, he deems the passage to be an example of bad writing. The mile-long sentence is syntactically and grammatically flawless. This is a highly desirable quality in writing.

    Believe it or not, there are those who can read and understand entire textbooks written in just that style.

    Can I? Nope. I won't call it bad writing, though. I find the style nearly impenetrable, but it is deliberately so. Academic discourse (especially that produced by insecure PhD's)often strives to exclude rather than to engage the average (i.e., non-academic) reader. The academy encourages this practice.

    I've spent most of my life in academia. I marvel at how a professor will take points off a freshman paper while the professor herself is guilty of producing equally unreadable discourse (but in greater volume!). The hypocrisy is a bit disturbing. Once, I submitted a student's paper to a forum of professors who judged the paper to have been written in a "highly readable but non-academic style."

    Go figure.

    Regarding the referenced website's mini- rant against literary theory: knowledge of literary theory can actually help a writer, whether she subscribes to any theory or not. The more a writer knows about her craft and what others say about the craft, the better writer she will be. There's a humorous and famous anecdote about Mark Twain listening to a literary critic pick apart "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," but I won't go into it here.


  7. #7

    Re: Scary!

    Hey guess what? I took Freshman English with Paul Fry, the professor so lovingly quoted in that article. He was THE MAN and all the really pushy pre-investment banker types stood in line all night just to be sure to get into his section. Little me, the frazzled, spacey future writer, dragged along at the last minute when there were no spaces left in any of the TA sections and so God Himself was forced to make me his twenty-first student. All I remember from his class was that I was so nervous during the final exam that I failed to identify the quotation "out, out, damn spot!" (Which any Mom knows is a line from Where's Spot?) I came out of that class a former English major. I decided that though I wanted to read the great works, I did not want to be obliged to use the words paradigm or hegemony while discussing them.

    (sssh, my husband is a professor, this is just between us)

  8. #8

    Re: Scary!

    You are joking about the 'Where's Spot?' thing, right?

    Right. Thought so.

  9. #9

    Re: Scary!

    There is far more to "good writing" than grammar. When one introduces jargon simply to prove you know how to correctly use those words -- you have produced bad writing. When you break down the sentence and realize it could easily be said more elegantly, more effectively, more simply, and more specifically -- then you have bad writing. Simply because it is *intentionally* bad (meaning part of the intention is to exclude most readers)doesn't make it good. It may make it purposeful, but it does not make it good.

    I have written badly on purpose in order to be meet the needs/desires of the client -- they client *wanted* work that was preachy, overly sentimental, and over modified. Thus, I wrote the way I did for a purpose (mostly to get the client's money and pay my bills) but simply because it met the clients needs, doesn't make it good writing.

    My very strong opinion.


  10. #10

    Re: Scary!

    Actually, "out out damn spot" is from a Tide commercial.

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