No Country for Long Paragraphs and Big Words
I have a confession.
This isn’t my preferred writing style. If I genuinely believed there was a viable alternative, I’d stop in a heartbeat. I’d forgo the conversational phrases, fatuous formatting, and dumbed-down diction. I’d refrain from mollycoddling you with the syntax of a children’s book. Oh yes, if I were king, I’d pen meandering paragraphs interspersed with interesting words and thought-provoking aperçus; each one a puzzle box for the tenacious reader.
Instead, I write like this.
Catch my drift? (Urgh)
I’ve got a suspicion there are many writers on this platform — compelled by unreachable carrots or girdled by ghosts of success — who sacrifice complexity, nuance, and the overflowing joy of language on the altar of accessibility. Yes, that was a long sentence, but it wasn’t that long. Several decades ago, W.G. Sebald (drawing influence from nineteenth-century German prose) revived and reconfigured this ostensibly archaic feature.¹ Then again, he died shortly before blogging came to prominence.
This, dear writers and readers, is merely a rant; a diatribe in defense of self-discovery. The kid gloves are off and I’m channeling the sesquipedalian spirit of Will Self. Unlike Sebald, today’s foremost modernist is still very much alive — but I can still channel him. Watch me. No snobbery is alienating enough to stop me from weaponizing the lexicon!
The English language contains a staggering amount of words, yet bloggers make a ballyhoo of omitting the majority. If you manage to escape this stifling miasma, once-forsaken embers will spark a realization: Isn’t that a f*cking shame? Seeing an unfamiliar word shouldn’t turn you off. It should turn you on! What is this little nugget of mutable meaning? How does it sound? What’s its etymology? How does it sit within the context of the sentence, paragraph, or piece? Does it stand out like a sore thumb, or does it support the concrescence of the gestalt? More to the point, are common assertions of pretentiousness indicative of cognitive dissonance; a defense mechanism for insecurity and ignorance?