A Pledge to My Readers
October 29, 2013 4:44 AM   Subscribe

I’ve always written high-quality sentences, prepared with the finest grammatical ingredients. In the coming year, I’m raising the bar even higher: I’ll be offering only artisanal words, locally grown, hand-picked, minimally processed, organically prepared, and sustainably packaged... - by Michael Erard, reprinted at Medium
posted by jim in austin (24 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I also stumbled across a number of hard-to-find heirloom verbs that haven’t been seen in urban markets for 100 years, because their flesh bruises too easily, and because they don’t fit the cosmetic ideal.

Indeed, nothing compares to a freshly-plucked behoove.
posted by oulipian at 4:55 AM on October 29, 2013 [5 favorites]

Just what one expects from an organic writer: Paragraphs liberally fertilized with merde.
posted by three blind mice at 5:01 AM on October 29, 2013 [12 favorites]

Eschew "yclept" and take my money.
posted by sidereal at 5:05 AM on October 29, 2013

posted by Infinity_8 at 5:36 AM on October 29, 2013

Amusing read, but it felt about five paragraphs too long.
posted by YAMWAK at 5:51 AM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

...but it felt about five paragraphs too long.

He be stylin'.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:19 AM on October 29, 2013

Amusing read, but it felt about five paragraphs too long.

He needed artisanal portions.
posted by Slackermagee at 6:20 AM on October 29, 2013

Free range?
posted by uraniumwilly at 6:24 AM on October 29, 2013

I've been a fan of the Artisanal Language movement ever since I started reading William Gass.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 6:26 AM on October 29, 2013

Tattooed fish, oak whiskey barrel, blunderbuss.
posted by srboisvert at 6:36 AM on October 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

If anyone wants a cautionary tale about Big Lingua destroying our national literary health, I humbly direct them to read Super Sad True Love Story, by Gary Shteyngart.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 6:47 AM on October 29, 2013

So that's what a hipster is

posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 6:51 AM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

...in which unhealthy metaphor and similes are force-fed, pumped up with drugs, crammed into cages, and slaughtered with mechanical devices.

I'm afraid the organic approach doesn't seem to offer that much of an advantage.
posted by MrVisible at 7:06 AM on October 29, 2013

He needed artisanal portions.

It is American portions that are too large. When I lived in Europe, everyone ate only what sated their hunger, and we all left one bite on the plate to show how refined we
posted by grog at 7:17 AM on October 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

Tired of high-falutin' "organic" rhetoric? Yearning for the taste of quick, convenient sentences? Then come on down to honest quidnunc's speech factory outlet, where we offer YOU single-syllable savings! Trade in your fancy ivy-league sentences for one of our sleek new utterances, e.g. as follows:

SWAP: "Excuse me m'lady, perchance that I might inquire as to your availability to attend an elegant dance chez nous?"
FOR: "Grab your coat, sweet cheeks - you've scored!"

SWAP: "The wonder of modern existence is, surely, the paradoxical interplay of material wealth and temporal poverty".
FOR: "I ain't got time for shit!"

SWAP: "Only a politics that fully takes into account the complexity of overdetermination deserves to be called a strategy. When we join a specific struggle, the key question is: how will our engagement in it or disengagement from it affect other struggles? The general rule is that when a revolt against an oppressive half-democratic regime begins, as with the Middle East in 2011, it is easy to mobilise large crowds with slogans – for democracy, against corruption etc. But we are soon faced with more difficult choices. When the revolt succeeds in its initial goal, we come to realise that what is really bothering us (our lack of freedom, our humiliation, corruption, poor prospects) persists in a new guise, so that we are forced to recognise that there was a flaw in the goal itself. This may mean coming to see that democracy can itself be a form of un-freedom, or that we must demand more than merely political democracy: social and economic life must be democratised too. In short, what we first took as a failure fully to apply a noble principle (democratic freedom) is in fact a failure inherent in the principle itself. This realisation – that failure may be inherent in the principle we’re fighting for – is a big step in a political education"
FOR: Vote #1 quid nunc kid!
posted by the quidnunc kid at 7:31 AM on October 29, 2013 [10 favorites]

The first sentence was twee, but when it just kept going and the horrible realization dawned on me that the entire article was going to be that one twee sentence over and over again I hoofed it.
posted by Mooseli at 7:34 AM on October 29, 2013

uraniumwilly: "Free range?"

Twee range.
posted by chavenet at 7:51 AM on October 29, 2013

I'm not sure what he means. It's like he took a blurb from something about the benefits of locavore eating and replaced all the foods with language words. If he means he's literally only going to source local language, will the ideas he uses be local or the words he uses? If it's ideas, then he can only take inspiration from works written by authors from his neighborhood or city or state. If he means the words he uses, he can only write in a local dialect using local vernacular. I don't see any of that in this piece of writing.
posted by ChuckRamone at 7:52 AM on October 29, 2013

The passion for nearly obsolete words brings to mind my encounter with a remarkable poem by Julianna Baggott, "To My Lover, Concerning the Yird-Swine," in an anthology whose contributor's notes indicated she'd "fallen in love with abandoned words."
This niche fixation lent me to peg Baggott as artisan-style eclectic wordsmith until, to my surprise, she turned out to be the writer behind another of those trending dystopian Y/A trilogies ("Pure") and while I read the 1st installment with high expectations, I realized genre-swapping scribes don't necessarily carry their talents for execution capably from one form to the next.
posted by skyper at 8:08 AM on October 29, 2013

My Pledge to Readers
It may not be organic or locally sourced, but it always has a nice clean scent.
I wish we had online images back; I hate wasting your time with clicking links

posted by oneswellfoop at 8:09 AM on October 29, 2013

Personally I hate words, and so I only communicate in single letters. Sometimes I use spaces between some of them, sometimes I don't - that's just an aesthetic choice. But the important thing is that when I write or say things, I only mean to communicate the individual letters, not the "groupings" of same. It's sometimes confusing for people but sghsduvdy dhd dud udile n lomip urry ttttog.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 8:17 AM on October 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

This is the literary equivalent of a Saturday Night Live sketch where they have one cute, mildly amusing concept and repeat it 20 different ways over four and a half minutes.
posted by rocket88 at 8:22 AM on October 29, 2013

I pitched this to McSweeney's, and they were, like, 'Can you make it into a list or a letter or something?'

Then I pitched it to Garry Keillor and he was, like, 'I don't know, man, do you have anything a little edgier?'
posted by box at 9:22 AM on October 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

I liked it. Thanks.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:03 AM on October 29, 2013

« Older Zombie Story   |   Legophone (no actual lego involved) Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments