Thursday, July 14, 2005

Composition 101

Well I'm back; last night's flight delayed an hour, not because of weather, but because someone in Detroit breached security and they had to empty the whole concourse & start over. But the house wasn't flattened by a hurricane in our absence, so I guess I should be grateful.

Spent the last few days reading John Wilkinson and Hegel (looking for the elusive pleasure there). And Minima Moralia, in which I found a wonderful three-page nugget on how to write ("Memento"), which I'll probably quote most of in the next few. The bit most immediately appropriate:

One should never begrudge deletions. The length of a work is irrelevant, and the fear that not enough is on paper, childish. Nothing should be thought worthy to exist simply because it exists, has been written down. When several sentencees seem like variations on the same idea, they often only represent different attempts to grasp something the author has not yet mastered. Then the best formulation should be chosen and developed further. It is part of the technique of writing to be able to discard ideas, even fertile ones, if the construction demands it. Their richness and vigour will benefit other ideas at present repressed. Just as, at table, one ought not eat the last crumbs, drink the lees. Otherwise, one is suspected of poverty.

Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia: Reflections from Damaged Life, trans. E. F. N. Jephcott (Verson, 1974) 85

I want to put that on my syllabi from now on – or better yet, tape it to the side of my computer.

1 comment:

E. M. Selinger said...

Welcome back! We've missed you, here in the Blogosphere.

Hegel? Hmmm...