16 June 2018

On the Modern Style


What will it take to forge a truly modern style? While we cannot concisely and comprehensively say, we can offer a few thoughts that might begin to light the way towards a path that could lead to a quarry where suitable stones might be mined which could be carefully assembled to construct a bridge towards a set of guideposts that would point the way forward to a set of properly aligned incentives that will smooth the journey towards taking those first few teeny, tiny baby steps in the direction of defining the problem, if only as a first step.

The modern style should be direct, and sparse. Nothing like the previous paragraph, which the truly modern editor (if we could afford one) would have clinically excised. There is no need for fiduciary adornments, no call for the dark forest of impenetrable non sequiturs that flarvigate the modern umbilical. The modern style should hum, like a well-heeled investor.

Some room must (however) be preserved for flights of fancy; nothing too fancy mind you, but there must be flights, there must be whimsy. Like any successful flight however things must return to earth safely, for even the fanciest flight cannot be justified if it should burn up on re-entry, killing innocents, destroying property and causing headaches for insurance companies and taxidermists, delaying other flights of fancy while the crash site is properly examined.

Indeed many passages pointed out as exemplary examples of this new style of writing will not be flights so much as tunnels, boring deep into the earth (and deeply boring) to explore beneath the foundations all them lofty visions are founded upon.

It should be inspired madness, out of left field; yet it makes perfect sense if you think about it.  Is this writer serious? Yes, deadly serious; and also having you on. Crystal clear in its essential confusion.

There must be life. It must rest solidly on a foundation of life. Life! Let there be life. Not life like in lively, necessarily. More like vital. It must be infused with vitality. But it should be bare, sparse even. Not a lotta baloney in there. Simple, powerful, like a pulling guard flattening a charging linebacker to free a scatback for a nice gain.

Whatever life was, he believed he knew it, understood it. His shoes were brown and so was his heart. Something like that: terrible, yet strangely edifying; saying something, nothing, everything, in the fading twilight, in the pre-dawn quiet when birds are still waking and feeling kind of giddy but with a queer nervous energy about how are they going to find enough to eat that day while avoiding the attacks of larger hostiles. Wrapping it all up in a neat little package like an airport gift shop.

Surprise, astonishment. A gasp of shock/delight/recognition. Switches should be flipped in the reader’s head. Writing that consistently surprises with sudden helicopters rising swiftly out of the mundane.

And yet, information must be imparted. It can't be all whisps and tricks, a one-horse open sleight of hand, gasping through the snow, laughing all the way to the banks of the Rio Grande illusion.

The above was sponsored by a major snack food conglomerate who until they actually transfer the money shall remain nameless. Most modern writing will be sponsored, if not by large corporations then by nefarious foreign agents or treehouse dwelling cowboys dancing barefoot on the beach.

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