Friday, 1 June 2012

Baggage yak

Do you ever read a piece of social or political commentary and feel impressed by the writing but still wholly unconvinced by the arguments? It happens to me quite a lot when I'm idly surfing some of the more mainstream stuff rather than my regular blog visits. I think it applies to a certain type of professional, or would-be professional writing.

You begin reading a well-written piece, skipping over a linked reference because you don't have the time or inclination to read two pieces at once. Then you skip over one or two more references, trying to swallow the thread of the argument, which is still well-written and quite persuasive, but something within you is filling up.

It's like eating too much rich food, the flavour is still there, but the appetite wanes. Suddenly you call a halt, you know you've had enough. Maybe you reached the end of your meal of words and maybe you didn't, but you won't be swallowing any more - not for a while anyway.

Too many assumptions.

Adrift on a sea of words, conjectures and assertions which could never be proved in any practical sense. Yet it's a well-written piece and you are not sorry to have read it, even though some of the links and references have more than a whiff of name-dropping. But that's it - the piece has no impact on you.

Too much baggage.


Anonymous said...

Too full - are you sure the piddle problem is sorted?

A friend used to publish a learned journal, one test of a submitted script was to read it on the commute home, if my friend was still awake at say Surbiton the script had passed the 'interest' test.

I find websites suffer the same problem - cut to the chase or don't bother.

A K Haart said...

Roger - not falling asleep is a good test, although it's quicker to speed read to pick up the flavour of a piece. Avoids missing your station(:

Demetrius said...

As I was saying only last week to the Duke of Dunstable, one thing I cannot abide is "name dropping".

Sam Vega said...

I think there is a clear distinction between the quality of writing, and the quality of ideas which it expresses. I frequently am delighted by the way in which daft or unwholesome ideas are expressed. The words just lead you along, and you only give up when you realise that your mind has been skating along on the surface. Conversely, there are worthy tracts which I can't be bothered with because reading them is such hard work.

Writers who pitch it in the middle are a rare find. I wonder if there is consensus as to who they are?

A K Haart said...

Demetrius - you mean old Buffy? He does it all the time - always trying to be one up on old Devonshire.

Sam - "I think there is a clear distinction between the quality of writing, and the quality of ideas which it expresses."

I agree and it can be a problem, because as you say, good writing is a seductive delight, almost whatever it says.