I'm still thinking about Maud's NYT piece on David Foster Wallace's language and her take on how his language has permeated blogging syntax. As in, you know, this is how I'm thinking right now and what do you think and I can't be bothered to be precise in my language and that may be a reflection of my inability to be precise in my thinking or it may be an intentional style thing or whatever et al.
As I said this weekend, I'm guilty of this. I could be more precise in my language. I could be more convincing in my arguments. I often riff in an off-handed way because I'm writing quickly, or I am afraid you'll think I take myself too seriously, or I want you to enjoy books as much as I do, or because I'm very into the rhythm of how something sounds when read aloud or some odd combination of all these things and more.
But the thing is - I don't dislike my writing style. You may dislike it. You may deem me somehow less of an intellectual mind, incapable of rigor, as a result. I'm okay with that. There are many other places you can go for rigor-reading. I also firmly believe that just as wine appreciation can get snotty beyond all enjoyment, so, too, can literary banter. Life is short, wars are being fought, loved ones are dying every day...must we really be so intense about our books?
Ed has a more thought-provoking (see? perhaps there is something to my rigor-less thinking as seen in my rigor-less speech...) reaction to the piece and takes to task the idea that DFW's work in particular is to blame. Yet the thing that is still on my mind from the piece is that while I may be opinionated, I tend to shy away from being overly clear about my position on touchier literary-sphere subjects. I will get angsty about a thing, but I won't cite clear examples of what makes me angsty, if those examples involve my peers. That's not cool. I'm unimpressed with this tendency of mine. So the notion that my lack of clarity is in some way tied to my need to be liked (or, more precisely, not hated) is spot-on.
To cite an example (see that rigor?): I wrote a longer post about book reviewing a few months ago that remains unpublished in my post queue. I think it offers a decent look at some of the reasons we could celebrate books more vs. rail on them and their authors. Yet it is light on examples because I didn't want to piss anyone off. And what is that? That is a form of the very bullshit I often rail against.
So. I may or may not post that longer bit on book reviewing nonsense. I may or may not add examples to it before hitting Publish. Maud's piece has got me thinking on two entirely different tracks: on the one hand, I'm okay with my imprecise writing and on the other, I'm not. Whether it came from DFW is not my cross to bear (more precise minds will further this discussion, I'm sure) but it has given me pause in how my writing on this blog has come about and how its imprecision can at times serve me or discredit me.