You Got Style
· Pointed Takes on Style Delineated ·
September 30, 2003
· Birthday-Baseball Triple Play ·
So how did it go? Just great! The M's beat Oakland 9 - 3, Jamie Moyer collected his 21st win, and Edgar Martinez — "Poppy," as we call him — may have batted in his last game. "It doesn't get any better than that," as I told my son, but since I have seen Roger Clemens pitch his 300th, and read John Updike's Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu, I have known, of course, that occasionally it does.
Updike's great passage recounts Ted Williams' last time at bat. "Understand," Updike recalled of that magical September 28, 1960, "that we were a crowd of rational people. We knew that a home run cannot be produced at will," but this "was one of the times, which you now and then find in sports, when a density of expectation hangs in the air and plucks an event out of the future."
Updike's two paragraphs describing Williams' achievement are gems:
I told my daughter-in-law Sunday, "If Edgar hits a homer" — it was the bottom half of the 8th — "he's almost sure to retire. If he doesn't, certainly we'll know soon." And so we're waiting.
Forgive me, but stylistically and substantively, this is one 60-year-old "Poppy" speaking.Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
September 25, 2003
· On Singular They ·
But might Altieri agree that the here-analogical difference between "sense" and "reference" — or Sinn and Bedeutung as Gottlob Frege has taught generations of modern philosophers to think — also blunts her point? Let me explain.
It is true, of course, that "their" means everyone in the sense of a plural group, but might it be the case, too, that "everyone" still refers to the singular verb "has" as does the group's singular "opinion"? Although I grant such matters are trivial as matters grammatical, rhetorical, and logical always are, still, maybe they allow me to express yet another point.
It is that I will continue to remind my students that 1 ≠ 2. While I agree one should perhaps mark no more precision in English than our language allows, I am still allowed, as Frege reminds us — with respect to meaning and to reference — sometimes to be plural and sometimes singular.
Say, "Everyone has a right to an opinion."Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
September 19, 2003
· Late Night Thoughts on New-World Illiterates, Tutored and Untutored ·
So at midnight I have thought to wed — shotgun-style — subjects and verbs, words and actions, of two obvious illiterates. They're not illiterates, of course, since they're quite able to write, but they don't write well. They are, alas, "Illiterates, Tutored and Untutored."
The first addressed our faculty meeting Wednesday afternoon from the lofty heights of Regional Accreditation, in a style mediated Microsoftly by the dominant abstractions called "Bullet Points." Dr. Power B. Point, you can call him, had this sentence to share on a slide entitled
Now there's a natural-born communicator. Actually, he's well-credentialed and degreed, "tutored" in the compromising and educationizing styles I abused in February and October. I can almost hear Malcolm Cowley say, "This dude's been adorned with laurel branches and flowering hegemonies," and Jacques Barzun, "Such is the educationist mind everywhere." Too bad Dr. Power Point's work hasn't been seen by Pootwattle and Smedley.
My next example is more difficult. It's the almost-Joycean musings of a semi-conscious girl on the realities of today's high schools. Included in a recent newspaper editorial — the editor threatens one day to print all his letters unedited — it marks not the sad arrogance of power but the sorry ignorance of technique, which is, of course, a bit more easily corrected. In any event, I give you
Well, all I can say we get at "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" is this:
That's A New-World Order.Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
September 11, 2003
· "Earth" from Bryant Park to Ground Zero ·
Bryant's meditation on the question, though in a style we'd today call unfashionable, ends on a note still apt to our circumstances. Mr. New York of the nineteenth century, Bryant queried his own country at last from a much larger perspective,
Today we all know Bryant at least got his personified abstractions right.Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
September 2, 2003
· Brent, In Memoriam ·
around the rose
ring and weave
in threads of flight
trailing just behind
wrapped around the bush
sung in round,
like a fugue played
from a central line —
when a rose
You see what all who knew him well can still see in his absence, the rare presence of gifts gone but not forgotten.Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
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Birthday-Baseball Triple Play
On Singular They
Late Night Thoughts on New-World Illiterates, Tutored and Untutored
"Earth" from Bryant Park to Ground Zero
Brent, In Memoriam
Figures & Tropes
Grammar & Syntax