Friday, May 3, 2019

Insomniac ramblings on a rainy Friday.

I've written about this before and I suppose I'll write about it more in the future. But to be dark and epigrammatic about it,
we have left "The Information Age" for "The Spewing Age."

A phrase like Information Age asserted that we were sharing knowledge (we were, after all, supposed to be knowledge workers) but in the Spewing Age, we are merely, to steal and bastardize a line from "The Wizard of Oz," "a clinking, clanking, clattering collection of caliginous cliches."

About 92,000 times a day, I'm assaulted with Hallmark card philosophizing that today passes for profound. 

"Your business must be customer-centric." 

"5G will change everything." 

"Every industry will be disrupted."

"Today's workers demand to be in control of their lives."

And the most retch-in-the-mouth-worthy: "I'm humbled to be part of such-and-such a team/piece of work/organization/etc ad nauseam." You're so humbled you brag about how humbled you are. 

An onslaught of moutharrhea, that is, diarrhea of the voice-box, that reduces 99% of what we hear and see as empty, annoying--even insulting in its insipidness.

In his essay "Politics and the English Language," Orwell lays it out for us neatly, as you'd expect. Some brief rules on effective communication.

Except in our topsy-turvy Macbethean world, where foul is fair and fair is foul, no one takes the trouble to read those words anymore. If I had my way, everyone who touches a keyboard would have them posted somewhere near their keyboard.

I. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

II. Never use a long word where a short one will do.

III. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

IV. Never use the passive where you can use the active.

V. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

VI. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

As a putative writer, or at least someone who makes a living writing, I've stuck close to those rules for the last 25 years or so. (Of course, I fuck up some times. Even Orwell did.)

They're not complicated rules. They aren't hard to follow. They usually demand two things: One, thinking before speaking. And Two, re-writing what you write.

But unfortunately, both those actions are as quaint and bygone as, I guess, Orwell himself.

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