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You’ve likely noticed my frequent snipes at writers and writing. Jealousy could be behind my remarks, but what I feel is bewilderment seeing ill-cooked lumpy pabulum touted as fine cuisine.
Solid writers – Mary Renault or Michael Campbell – are barely recognized compared to Rawlings JK or Hemingway Ernest.
It seems that rather often a commercial interest replaces a literary one. Plus (an avenue befuddling contemporary education) there’s golden cash to be harvested taking a standard and reducing it ever more to demonstrate increasing success justifying further reward.
You do not need me to detail that sequence, do you?
I take my title from the novel Crown of Swords by R Jordan, deceased. If I knew where buried I’d visit to take comfort as I did for Leatherstocking Tale Teller, Cooper.
There are a bunch of books in the Wheel of Time series. Either fair-minded or masochistic I determined to go forward one to the next, a decision regretted frequently along the way.
As introduced, the three main characters are youths who grow from semi-likeable to annoying cardboard cutouts. I sense trouble when my dearest wish for these (and many more as the books plod on) personages is a painful death.
There’s too much to untangle in a story framework where three “special” young males find themselves swept along by covens of wise women able to exercise a magical power. I can’t explain it, but neither does the author’s device of “The Wheel Weaves as the Wheel Wills.”
Weaving, done in vertical and horizontal rows on a frame, doesn’t fit a wheel model. If and when a wheel weaves it’s simply wandering, which might be OK except the author implies an external driver (the Will part).
The weaving of time has something to do with the wheel as weaver, so by then my intellect gives it up as a strained analogy that doesn’t need further attention.
The curious thing is why so many critics go along with this – put in a nice word that means stupidity. My sole guess is commercial success sniffed out based on so many, many words in a string of books to keep readers engaged to see if it ever makes sense. Good guess? Though maybe the characters, groups and places have to be wooden figures in order to keep at least some track of the endless piling on of impossibilities.
Commercial “literature” and critics seem equally attracted to fluff they can agree upon.
I’m reminded of a movie director who made a great fuss over getting exactly the right type of wood to build the rural colonial farmhouse needed. OK, they found the right kind of trees in Canada and had them milled to make the farmhouse authentic and true. But not really because to be authentic the boards would need to be cut using a pit saw.
That wasn’t mentioned so like as not the rough boards bore traces of circular sawing. Not that it matters, any of it, because the boards play no part in the story any more than if the daffy director found colonial dust to use for indoor accuracy.
Does it matter in the story? If not then why tout that any more than we’d value a movie because the catering service offered sushi.
An argument (one of the four forms of formal discourse) can be made challenging notions of quality and objectivity, considerations that are indeed subjective. But does that mean entirely so? Nope, it doesn’t.
Languages have schemes of order a user follows or not. “Put last forward the rank integer of dear Mrs please” is not a standard (good) expression in English.
Transferring or communicating understanding is a joint process for all languages; not limited to English usage as is heard argued.
It is not unfairly discriminatory when a language obeys its own rules. I doubt it is either clever or useful to suggest English use is racially insensitive for not containing modal elements of SE Asian languages than it would be to judge speakers of those languages of being racist for not being more like English.
For those captivated by the sociological possibilities of cabbage to lettuce comparisons I suggest they make their plans for reform in pictures because we’ll all understand the one true meaning of “aerial lift bridge.”
There’s too much topic here for the number of words I can use, so let’s return to the language picture “crown of swords.”
Whatever that might mean isn’t clear to me. Is it to you?
In general words and images should add to rather than muddle meaning as with “pineapple wedding ring.”
If language was meant to be inventive more than communicative then “fruit wedding ring” is fine for meaning most anything which is the equivalent of meaning nearly nothing. When the useful rules of language are set aside to satisfy fanciful rules of social convention jibber will come to replace content.
Continued long enough this dumbing down rises to a peak where nothing can mean anything, and wouldn’t that be nice?
If (as you know I’m going) I continue with weaving wheels and swordly crowns as a holiday of topicals I’ll point to one fallout from the embrace of “it’s all good.”
‘Nother words, commercial achievement may need impressive volume (form of noise isn’t it) to convince consumers (aye, our label indeed) a thing must be good. In the wheel wavering of time 10 ponderous books go on and on to make that very point.
I’d suppose then a nine-hour movie would be inferior to one of ten or eleven hours butt-numbing duration. For me, self-serving new standards have the weight of a claim to alleviate world hunger by adding an inch to your middle.
If you’re swayed by an unwieldy time wheel, fine. But let’s realize communication is more than pretend or pretense. Sounding good or impressive matters less if there’s no substance, a disregard for what I term meaningful detail.
Does it matter if a character had two pieces of bread at lunch?
What’s more effective “the sailors were barefoot” or “bare feet thumped as the crew manned the capstan”?
I have reason to prefer the second choice, but that’s not canon. Numbers of profs. were unable to convince me Hemingway (except for In Our Time) was great as claimed.