Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Girthy Ambrose Bierce Would Like My Steamboat

Pardon the strange angling. I was photographing a tabletop without a crane.

I had been feeling terribly guilty about my intermittent posting when I started to notice the same trend amongst other blogs I read regularly. Days between updates due to vacations or just senioritis as the summer starts swinging. I'd love to lie like a rug and say I've been consumed with producing kilos of words on my two big projects and sundry small ones, but actually, I've been whipping around examining alternate apartamenting options.

1) I did attend the MoCCA (Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art) 5th annual festival on Sunday. I've got a couple pictures to post and a little to say about that, so I'll save it for tomorrow except for my awesome steamboat print by Brendan Burford , which will- when augmented with text- become the cover of a future Syncopated Comics. The website is still developing, I was informed, so I'm sure they meant ought-six not '05, but you'll get the idea of this group reportage and essay comic. I just liked the feel and look, and think it'll be a nice companion to an old Fortune magazine cover illustration of an ocean liner that I already have up.

2) Pal Elgin Tyrell, on the occasion of his daughter's wedding, noticed that he has joined auspicious company as a man of girth. Add Sebastian Cabot (Mr. French of Family Affair) and Nero Wolfe, not to mention Hercule Poirot, and you'll see how often the nattily dressed girthed ones rise above classifications of slovenliness to shine as men of elegance and erudition. If you want to shrink for health and/or comfort, do. But if not, be sure to turn yourself out in better than a giveaway T-shirt and frayed shorts if you wish to convey the agile and keen sensibility within.

3) Apropos of my most recent literary post, I've been referred to a 1909 Ambrose Bierce treatise that makes similar points. If you sample his blacklist, you'll find an enormous number of the sloppy usages he berates have indeed slunk into common parlance , literary and otherwise. Was this slackening into populist naturalism and lazy language the beginning of idealizing "realism"-whose momentum has carried it finally to falsely tragic memoirs and wearying gutter travelogues- as the acme of literary expression? I don't condemn commonness of subject matter, but commoness of storytelling. Even when the subject is depravity or hardship, part of valuing humanity and the richness of life means seeing depths within the horrible, so I think realistically awful stories especially deserve a writer who works like an artist, not the usual poet of the bathroom stall. Thanks to Project Gutenberg for making such goodies available. Here's the link to Write It Right: A Little Blacklist of Literary Faults and an introductory excerpt:

The author's main purpose in this book is to teach precision in writing; and of good writing (which, essentially, is clear thinking made visible) precision is the point of capital concern. It is attained by choice of the word that accurately and adequately expresses what the writer has in mind, and by exclusion of that which either denotes or connotes something else. As Quintilian puts it, the writer should so write that his reader not only may, but must, understand.

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