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I am posting this as a benchmark, not because I think I'm playing very well yet.  The idea would be post a video every month for a ye...

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

S****y drafts

Here is a nice take on my take on shitty first drafts.  I like the way Thomas frames my words and makes me look smart.

I was citing something from Jerome McGan in my introduction:

“Within that general field of dynamic reflection we might usefully distinguish two kinds of interpretive action: a mode oriented in performative models, of which translation and parody are perhaps the master types, and a mode oriented in scholarship, which is our customary exemplar of interpretation” (The Scholar's Art 137).  

I really like what this quote says, but I don't particularly like it from a prose standpoint. I'm sure it is the way he wants it to sound, because he is a guy who knows what he wants. It is not an accident. But if I wrote it I would take out some of the qualifiers and hedges to make it sound less clunky. Anyway, when Thomas cites me, I am glad that my own prose holds up to his. You can cite someone who writes worse than you do; if you cite someone who writes a whole lot better, then watch out!  I first experienced this in grad school, where I quoted something by Jonathan Culler and the prof. noted how much more gracefully I was writing compared to him.  Of course, this is relative to one's own taste. The clunky style is probably just a matter of comfort, like wearing an overcoat two sizes too big. 


Thomas said...

I don't like the repeating cognate "mode" and "model", which seems redundant. (Also, it seems indecisive to call them "kinds", before "modes" and then (one of them) "models". I'd probably say, "McGan distinguishes between a 'performative' and a 'scholarly' model of interpretative action. ..."

I was grateful not to have to excavate your ideas from your prose in the same way. It was easy just to integrate your sentences in the post. (The lesson for writers: if you want your ideas represented in your own voice, write so clearly that people are inclined to quote whole sentences.)

Jonathan said...

Yes, the proliferation of abstract nouns--types, modes, models, exemplar--etc... when the actual things being described are the same exact things in all cases. Grrrr... This is one of the most common mistakes to make when discussing abstract ideas.