You Got Style
· Pointed Takes on Style Delineated ·
July 23, 2003
· Such a Woman — Anniversary Style ·
Naturally and properly, we're off on a holiday, and I thought to say as much here. Cheerio!Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
July 17, 2003
· Engendering the Science of Style ·
I was intrigued by Thompson's "He and She: What's the Real Difference?" because, in A Writing Teacher's Blog last June, John Lovas properly identified me as a male writer, "based on tones." But Thompson's piece identifies yet other criteria. Moshe Koppel, Anat Shimoni, and Shlomo Argamon of Israel's Bar-Ilan University, Thompson writes, "found that the single biggest difference is that women are far more likely than men to use personal pronouns — 'I', 'you', 'she', 'myself', or 'yourself' and the like. Men, in contrast, are more likely to use determiners — 'a,' 'the,' 'that,' and 'these' — as well as cardinal numbers and quantifiers like 'more' or 'some.'"
Naturally and properly, I was intrigued by Thompson's article. So trying their test informally on my own "This" Again — Thoreau "Revised," I concluded, to my surprise, that I was perhaps more like a woman there. But then again, since I identified "my wife" as "such a wife," maybe I'm a man, too. After all "this is," as Thoreau writes, my "father tongue," by "heroic," readerly revision.
Well, I'll let you decide. By the way, if you need more science on such matters, I'd suggest Hara Marano's fine Psychology Today article, The New Sex Scorecard. Some of you might even care to run "Hara" through the Israeli style-cruncher. Obviously, I'll have more to say on this theme.Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
July 11, 2003
· "This" Again — Thoreau "Revised" ·
Which comment explains why I just thought — considering Thoreau didn't have such a wife — to return to his words today. But I fear recent references, This — By Accident — July 4th and Dirty-Hand Style: Henry David Thoreau, left the mistaken impression that Thoreau's style was but a product of simple dirty-handedness. Nothing could be further from the truth. Although Thoreau tried to leave that literary impression, readers inquiring into his real work know otherwise. As an artist, he was an inveterate reviser.
Thoreau's impressive "Reading" chapter from Walden; or, Life in the Woods best makes my point. Although Thoreau lived life "in the Woods," he wrote, quite naturally, in the house. But "naturally" here is the wrong word. For Thoreau was committed himself as an artist to the "transcendence" of nature, and nowhere is his nature-to-art move better made than in his chapter Reading, in which he expressly drafts a comparison of ordinary speech to artful writing. For him, the comparison is significantly figured as a kind of heroism:
I have emphasized one sentence and one word to stress my point, namely, that Thoreau's own writing is object of such high, heroic attention. Lest we think Thoreau's writing itself exempt from any necessary revision, I would solicit reading of the very original of the passage I cited two weeks ago in Dirty-Hand Style. It's Thoreau's early journal style you should notice.
Of course, I'll let you decide which passage is better. I just wanted to "settle accounts," as Thoreau himself suggests, on his laborious work however so "husbanded."Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
July 4, 2003
· This — By Accident — July 4th ·
Thoreau again comes to my rescue. Do you know it was on July 4th that, as he writes in Walden (1854), he took up his famous pond-side abode "by accident"? I've always loved Thoreau's phrase, "by accident." Thoreau knew well enough he was ironically declaring, both literally and literarily, his own independence, but, sadly, what readers sometimes miss in Where I Lived, and What I Lived For is his reason for saying so. For we should recall that he had refused purchase of the old Hollowell place, and so remarks, then, later in his chapter, more generally of this fact:
Thoreau's actual experience of "not buying the farm" in life he converts, in Walden, of course, figuratively into the larger experiment of "not buying the farm": that is, not yet dying. Happily, with substantive wisdom, he dwells soberly on this truth:
This I know: "mine" tomorrow is getting down and dirty with that shed again. "By accident," of course, I celebrated July 4th by emphasizing "this" fact today.Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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Such a Woman — Anniversary Style
Engendering the Science of Style
"This" Again — Thoreau "Revised"
This — By Accident — July 4th
Figures & Tropes
Grammar & Syntax