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I spent last week away attending to academic essays on literary style "Back East." As I've said, academics make much of the view, adduced directly last week even, that style is sometimes more important than substance. Now while I have never held to that view, I am still intrigued by those who do so, as well as by those who don't. For there's something to be said for both.

For example, here's a short piece of writing showing how both are reciprocal. Its apparent subject is a "stylish" take on Henry David Thoreau by a student:

It would be another age-of-reason novelist, Henry David Thoreau, who consequently shows that style is more important than substance. In his novel Walden, Thoreau wrote with such beautiful academic prose that — even reaching a poetic voice throughout the novel (although the book is one of many of the somniferous school of literature) — it is still considered to be in the American literary cannon of literature, thus showing that style is more important than substance.

Don't you think that even "substantively" charming? By taking a novel approach to Walden, the student has marked the end of modern American schooling, providing us a "somniferous" acquaintance with literature which even "cannon" fire can't really disturb. Of course, the irony is that students themselves are now quite capable of saying so, stylistically and substantively.

Which is maybe why "Rocket" firing was the real news last week — Roger Clemens going 300 in The Bronx Friday.

Naturally, I was glad to be there.

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