Writing


“Our national claim to political incorruptibility is actually based on exactly the opposite argument; it is based on the theory that wealthy men in assured ositions will have no temptation to financial trickery.

Whether the history of the English aristocracy, from the spoliation of the monasteries to the annexation of the mines, entirely supports this theory I am not now inquiring; but certainly it is our theory, that wealth will be a protection against political corruption. he English statesman is bribed not to be bribed. He is born with a silver spoon in his mouth, so that he may ever afterwards be found with the silver spoons in his pocket. So strong is our faith in this protection by plutocracy, hat we are more and more trusting our empire in the hands of families which inherit wealth without either blood or manners. ome of our political houses are parvenue by pedigree; they hand on vulgarity like a coat of-arms. In the case of any a modern statesman to say that he is born with a silver spoon in his mouth, is at once inadequate and excessive. He is born with a silver knife in his mouth. But all this only illustrates the English theory that poverty is perilous for a politician.”

From G.K. Chesterton’s What’s Wrong with the World.


		
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In Chesterton’s chapter on Mr. Berhnard Shaw in the work Heretics, he suggests what should be running through Shaw’s mind when he catches a sight of his own feet:

What are those two beautiful and industrious beings,” I can imagine him murmuring to himself, “whom I see everywhere, serving me I know not why? What fairy godmother bade them come trotting out of elfland when I was born? What god of the borderland, what barbaric god of legs, must I propitiate with fire and wine, lest they run away with me?”

On Writing WellMy lovely wife gave me On Writing Well, by William Zinsser this Christmas. In a desire to write well I have set about reading Zinsser’s insights. It is my goal over the next several weeks to post on the chapters I’ve read (one per week), and you can judge the improvement of my writing as I report and review.

Chapter 1: The Transaction

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I’ve been thinking a lot recently about blogging and why I blog, and the benefit(s) (if any?) gained thereby. Today I was encouraged to find two articles spurring me in the very motive with which I began blogging, now almost a year on.

Writing. I need practice, and the blog is an easy place to do so. Well, here are two posts that should encourage you in it; here and here.

“Reading makes a full man; speaking makes a ready man; writing makes an exact man.” ~Francis Bacon

In the coming week or so I plan to post on a few topics. Due to the fact the I’m in the progress of getting all my things unpacked after moving, I don’t think I’ll get to them until the weekend or next week. So with no further ado here they are…

1. Pragmatism at Purdue
2. Postmodernism at Purdue
3. Down-Grade Controversy

Even though these topics may appear on the outside very different, the root of all these issues has a common theme. I hope this will generate some good discussions over the next couple weeks!

The word genius is conferred to few as an apithet, but certainly it applies to Leonardo DaVinci. As I visited a display of his labors this weekend at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, I became gripped with just how much of a genius he was. The singular aspect of his work that impressed me more than any other was how he was able to take the breadth of his learning and make many areas of study subservient to the one he was focusing on- whether using geometry to enhance the beauty of paintings, studying water currents for the design of flying apparatus that would sail on the air, or harnessing the properties of physics in civil engineering to design more efficient water transportation devices. He made use of each area and it seemed even if he was designing a machine, he wanted it to have an aesthetic, but functional, beauty. He was a master not because he saw one area as independent from the rest, but interdependent on the others.
DaVinci strikes me as a rare genius because he could be called not only an artist or sculptor, but an engineer and a mathematician too. There seems a sharp contrast between these two fields, of the freeform and unrestrained liberality of art on the one hand and the suffocatingly stringent rigorous nature of the engineers who found their understandings based on proofs, theories, and laws on the other. The two fields are disparate to many and cause sides to be chosen by those in each; the artist esteems the heart and scoffs at delving too deeply into the nature of things, they just are, he says, and by delving too deeply into mysteries you miss the blessing; the logician elevates the mind and harnesses its power as a machine to crank out all matter of formulas and principles while looking with apprehension at the volatile character of the emotions. The emotions to the engineer are altogether too fickle to be trusted while the mind to the artist is too callous.
DaVinci showed that by more thoroughly understanding one subject, we can be helped in others by broadening our scope of the way things work. DaVinci showed the body is not just anatomy and physiology, it is mechanics and physics, it is structure, geometry, and so much more. Neither the human body, nor the body of Christ is broken up into one group that defines what it is; it is many parts, many functions, and many unique areas meant to complement each other and work together.

“These students today. Some of them say to me, Why do we have to do work here professor? Can’t we just feel this?” Dr. Miller said. Two months ago, I sat in a class listening to Dr. Calvin Miller- author, poet, teacher, and pastor. Perhaps his most popular work is The Singer, a poetic allegory of the gospel. He taught about what needs to be done to make writing gleam. His message was captivating, reading us stories accentuating the keys to successful writing.
His words about working in writing have started to sink in. To really make writing stand out, I cannot just sit down and feel it. I need a palette of colors, words, to study and know. I need to learn how they blend together and complement each other. I need to understand the background and environment I am creating/explaining. I need to analyze my pieces and see how to take a key theme or idea in the beginning and weave that through the background fabric of the piece. Is it dark in a scene? obscure? rainy? bright?
How can I take my canvas and so that wherever the reader looks, he may feel that darkness that has made me stumble or be gripped by the hope that has compelled me on?
The thoughts I have to do this are not of abandoning the thoughts, inspirations, etc. that sometimes pull me (and many others) from sleep in the dark, but of harnessing them and working more diligently to understand their environments. By outlining a piece I plan to write, rather than just diving in with no firm plan (*sigh* work) I may be able to draw out and more explicitly refer to certain themes. By finding or more clearly understanding the theme(s) I can then look up words associated to those in a thesaurus and better express themes, moods, etc. Each may have a slightly different hue, and this will help me to better find the right one for the work.
Any other ideas? Hopefully more from me to come.
Learning to write,
Larry