A Promenade of Rhetoric
Display Your Writing Skills
Can you write like men of old?
Do you consider the line above to be perfectly good English, and ethically unobjectionable?
Were you nurtured, nay coddled, on forms of literature rich and neglected?
Do you wish you could write like you read, and still be recognized as an author?
Are you possessed of the historically normal feeling that fine sentiment is best expressed in fine language; that rude language is humorous; that curses and blessings bear a certain spiritual weight; and that only primitives are upset by insults?
Did you immediately interpret “rude” to mean “vulgar and rudimentary” rather than “discourteous”?
Are you surrounded by people incapable of normal human feelings, who similarly regard you as a pretender to impossibly genteel sentiments?
Have those impossibly fine sentiments vibrated in your chest like a hummingbird on encountering nature, antique art, innocence, or superiority?
Do people bafflingly consider your most honest and authentic self-revelations as snobbish, pretentious, and non-inclusive? Do you occasionally and idly wish you really were a medieval nobleman so you could have such obtuse persons horsewhipped for their own good?
Do you regard Old English and Middle English words as more venerable and real than contemporary inventions?
Do you find contemporary language objectively dissipated and enervated?
Do you use adjectives and adverbs as words of power, rather than fearing their power to increase your word count? Have you suspected that a contempt for descriptive words betrays an inability to perceive qualitas?
Do you experience a thrill of recognition on learning that nobility is “having fine things and doing fine deeds for their own sake”?
Are you unable to shake the deep and instinctive convictions that art is for beauty; song is for praise; and poetry is for noble souls, not self-entwined gut-spillers?
Do you wish you could go somewhere you don’t have to defend these perfectly obvious convictions against people who don’t even know they’re primly uttering vacant, prudish doublespeak?
Do you grasp that words mean what they mean because of their heritage and family relationships, rather than arbitrary convention?
Do you raise eyebrows at the belief a language’s development cannot be judged on any objective grounds because language evolves, and therefore later language is better than earlier language, and therefore whatever the latest lingo is, must be regarded as sacred canon?
Do you suspect that contemporary language, rather than “evolving” naturally, has been designed to express thoughts which our ancestors would have recognized as impious, dishonest, and detrimental to society and the soul?
Are you baffled by the insubstantial fad-following farcicality of literary prize selection?
Are you tired of pretending that the Emperor is richly arrayed?
Are you soul-sore at the diabolically mobian criterion of literary “importance”?
Do you snort at the engineered language people use to defend substandard and empty work?
Do you tire of pretending that demoralized perverts with souls of jerky are the heirs and equals of William Shakespeare and Jane Austen?
Do you nurture a deepening conviction that most education, secular and otherwise, has become the repository and perpetrator of an organized nonsense so profound that only the memory of trust, the appearance of sophistication, and a spermatazoan lust to penetrate the inner circle of inness could possibly explain mankind’s continuing recourse to its halloween halls?
Are you comfortable with the length and complexity of the above sentence?
And did you catch the retroreferential witticism in its final two words?
Do you stubbornly refuse to use ‘they’ as a singular pronoun?
Do you draw your hems aside from the muck and offal of the Beast of Grievance Studies which now blusters and bullies its way up and down the thoroughfare of established literature?
Are you astonished that no one is making jokes about a homosexual presidential candidate with “butt” in his name?
Alternatively; are you a little intimidated by the ferocity and conviction of the preceding statements, but curious enough to have come this far?
Or perhaps do you somewhat agree, while feeling that adjustments might remain to be made?
Was the whole thing pretty hit and miss regarding agreement and disagreement?
You wouldn’t be the first! But at least you now know exactly what the author of this blog feels about language and literature.
Do you think it’s all stupid, confusing, or boring?
There’s the door, fella.
What’s Going On Here?
In preparation for our Rhetorical Figures Poetry Challenge, we’re doing two activities together.
- Reading Elements of Eloquence by Mark Forsyth.
- Tracing our progress through the book by writing practice lines for each chapter, and posting them in the comments section below the preceding post. Any time, any order.
You are cordially invited to join us. It’s not a contest. There’s no promise of publication. We have no clout whatsoever. We’re simply challenging ourselves to be better poets.
More inspired; less instinctive.
More musical; less bestial.
More inventive; less innovative.
We’re splashing around in the stream of tradition: looking for the rich depths, looking for the musical shallows, looking for the gold dust. Learning to stand. Learning to contribute. Learning to speak the language that is logic and blessing at once; learning to sing in harmony with our ancestors.
Learning to feel disgust where disgust is due; to ridicule the ridiculous; to revolt from the revolting; to spit out the inedible.
Anything but replicating the 20th century giants who, on account of their cannibalistic vigor and stature in a time of withering and suppression, got away with literary murder.
Pull up a keyboard, ladies and gents.