Thursday, 18 September 2014

On Going On And On

You might wonder whether Sarada and I have anything in common sometimes, although you probably don't because there is quite a lot, in fact probably too much. If we ever get divorced, we'll probably cite "irreconcilable similarities" for obvious reasons.  There is relatively little complementarity in our relationship except that I tend to be able to help her with computery stuff a bit.

One of the things we do share is compulsion to write, in two different forms.  Liz's compulsion to write is up to her to feel compelled to write about, so I'll leave that to her, except to say that although she is compelled to write, she is fortunate enough not to be compelled to write verbosely.  I, on the other hand, have logorrhoea.  I go on and on, as lots of people have noticed, particularly the children.  I do this in writing and speech.  I love it when other people do the same because it makes me feel better when I can't get a word in edgeways.  NaNoWriMo for me should be the other way round - I should reduce my "literary" output by 50000 words in November.

Two surprising things about this though.  One is that I used to edit other people's work for brevity, and I was good at it.  Among the things which made it easier was my training in formal logic, as I could shorten sentences without sacrificing meaning, sometimes because of logic itself, sometimes due to familiarity with how language tends to work.

The other is more surprising:  I used to be brief!  I admit that I wrote two 30 000 word essays while studying A level biology but they were surprisingly to the point.  Clearly there was a compulsion to write there but more in Sarada's style than my more recent one.  Then I did my Masters.  This completely screwed with my clarity and plainness and I never got it back. French philosophers take pride in their obscurantist writing.  Jacques Lacan is a notorious example of this.  Not every philosopher is like this but, at least at the time, people took pride in producing the likes of this.  That's not an extreme example and the person who wrote it is in fact entirely OK.  However, that kind of approach to writing is rewarded by that particular strand of academia.  For some reason I've never been able to get my brevity back but I'm working on it.  As Mark Twain said, roughly, "Sorry this is so long.  I didn't have time to make it short".

I'm not on Facebook today at all and I'm also avoiding the news because of the Scottish independence referendum.  I personally expect the "no" camp to win.