For some, the typewriter can be about yearning for a simpler time, a younger self, a lost integrity, a relation to the text that seems as authentic as writing with pen and paper. One thinks more carefully, and one means what one writes on a typewriter in a way that one never does on a computer, in which the text is always subject to revision. On a typewriter, the thought is fixed forever. It makes one believe that the computer has magnified the pathologies of our culture in which everything solid melts away. Only the typewriter can make us whole again.
Isn’t it pretty to think so.” —
g’wan ahead and read the whole article
The attempt to speak without speaking any particular language is not more hopeless than the attempt to have a religion that shall be no religion in particular.
A courier’s or a dragoman’s speech may indeed be often unusual and drawn from disparate sources, not without some mixture of personal originality; but that private jargon will have a meaning only because of its analogy to one or more conventional languages and its obvious derivation from them.
So travellers from one religion to another, people who have lost their spiritual nationality, may often retain a neutral and confused residuum of belief, which they may egregiously regard as the essence of all religion, so little may they remember the graciousness and naturalness of that ancestral accent which a perfect religion should have.
Yet a moment’s probing of the conceptions surviving in such minds will show them to be nothing but vestiges of old beliefs, creases which thought, even if emptied of all dogmatic tenets, has not been able to smooth away at its first unfolding.
Later generations, if they have any religion at all, will be found either to revert to ancient authority, or to attach themselves spontaneously to something wholly novel and immensely positive, to some faith promulgated by a fresh genius and passionately embraced by a converted people.
Thus every living and healthy religion has a marked idiosyncrasy. Its power consists in its special and surprising message and in the bias which that revelation gives to life. The vistas it opens and the mysteries propounds are another world to live in; and another world to live in—whether we expect ever to pass wholly into it or no—is what we mean by having a religion.” —Reason in Religion by George Santayana (via triadic)
Though my heart leaps up when I hear the gorgeous music of 17th-century prose (Thomas Browne, Robert Burton, Jeremy Taylor), such organ-concert grandeur is simply beyond me. If only I had a flair for striking similes and metaphors! Alas, nothing ever reminds me of anything else. Equally elusive are the twists and turns of intricately layered, Ciceronian syntax: I have enough trouble holding a thought in my head for more than a couple of lines, let alone carrying it through serpentine clause after clause. I do sometimes console myself by remembering Isaac Babel’s famous dictum: “There is no iron that can pierce the human heart with such stupefying effect as a period placed at just the right moment.”
Because of journalism’s paramount need for clarity and objectivity, working at The Washington Post only reinforced the natural austerity of my prose. An old copy editor I knew used to say, when striking out a needless epithet or intensifier, “No vivid writing, please.” Beauty, I learned, grows out of nouns and verbs, and personal style derives from close attention to diction and sentence rhythm. When Yeats decided that his poems had become too ornamented and flowery, he took to sleeping on a board. Before long, he’d put the Celtic Twilight far behind and was producing such shockingly blunt lines as “Nymphs and satyrs copulate in the foam.”” —The American Scholar: Style Is the Man - Michael Dirda (via ayjay)