Monday, March 3, 2014

How Not to Write, Think, or Be

All artists strive for a connection between form and meaning and I'm always happy to point out when they succeed. Take this condemnable Salon piece which is as intellectually confused as it is syntactically jumbled. Now Salon's suffered from political dysentery for years and it's apparent willingness to hire anyone on the left has liquefied the once esteemed publication into a chowder of cheap ingredients. Still this article makes me wonder: do they edit their pieces to make them worse? If not this is a shockingly inept display from an author and editor.

Let's look at the choice grammar first.
I am going to start with three beloved movies of my childhood, and end with a suggestion of why liberals will probably never be able to come to grips with what they winningly call “inequality.”
Start what? Discoing? It's probably not a great idea to leave out the main verb of the first sentence. Then he sets up his thesis as a conclusion. "Will probably never be able to come to grips with what they" is one of those phrases that would vanish had the author read it aloud even once. What a clunker. Next, we wonder what "winningly" could possibly mean here. Charmingly? Successfully? Now we wonder why "'inequality'" is in quotations. I'll give a pass on the referential use of "of" but boy is it awkward. It's best to restrict that use to idioms.

Then we get this work of brilliance:
Well, no. And with that acknowledgement, let me advance to my bold hypothesis: The dick joke is not always what it seems to be. The dick joke is not always your friend.
First, is this a hypothesis or thesis? Is an experiment going to follow or are you laying out argumentation? Choose the proper word, please. Worse, though, we realize the statement isn't even the "hypothesis," because the phrase "what it seems to be" explains nothing but rather refers back to the previous paragraph. It's always nice when the author can't be bothered to explain his idea in one clear sentence.

Alright, I'll drop the grammatical dissection. The article is badly written. What about its content?

Let's look at his three points:
  1. Animal House isn't liberal because its protagonists are like liberals' bad guys in real life.
  2. Caddyshack isn't liberal because conservatives make fun of country club grandees too.
  3. Ghostbusters isn't liberal because in it one government official is bad and the good guys run a business. 
Well guess what, you verbally incontinent intellectually costive fool: the movies aren't political at all. The frat boys of Animal House aren't heroes, but we rally around them because they're enthusiastic and frank. Nobody likes stuck up country club blowhards, and finally, the right doesn't have a monopoly on entrepreneurship. The Ghostbusters aren't right wingers because the EPA dweeb lets the ghosts out. Neither party has a monopoly on any virtue, and to taint any by claiming it for one ought to mark any man the fool as much as heedless ordination into political file.

Oh, and whence this cheap shot?
Drink, take and lie: translate it into Latin and it could be the motto of the One Percent.
Yeah I hear there's a really active Eta Sigma Phi over at Bear Stearns. Try this one on for size:
Quam recitas meus est libellus: sed male cum recitas, incipit esse tuus.

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