Maud Newton has an interesting piece at the NYT about the many linguistic gambits of David Foster Wallace and how such gambits made their way into blogging lingo. I read her piece with a smile on my face, but must also admit plainly: my writing on this blog is largely made up of many gambits she decries.
I could make excuses for this. I could point out that my day job requires a different, far more rigorous kind of writing. Or that I actually like that sort of writing in doses. Perhaps even large doses. Large doses in, say, the form of a David Foster Wallace novel. I suppose that makes me less academic-paper worthy, but I cannot undo six years of blog posts. You cannot unread them.
What did strike me, though, is that I could be infinitely better at these bits (emphasis mine):
"Even if you reject, as I do, the universality of her diagnosis, Smith has pinpointed the reason so much of what passes for intellectual debate nowadays is obscured behind a veneer of folksiness and sincerity and is characterized by an unwillingness to be pinned down. Where the craving for admiration and approval predominates, intellectual rigor cannot thrive, if it survives at all."
"But the idea is to provoke and persuade, not to soothe. And the best way to make an argument is to make it, straightforwardly, honestly, passionately, without regard to whether people will like you afterward."
Food for thought.