I might have gone on a tangent in the last few posts.You absolutely do need the context. If the narrator is a man that has difficulty grasping emotion that sentence might be highlighting his inability to understand others on anything other than a completely basic level. The only way you can get a sense of an author's characterization skills is to actually view them in context. Having a character's "heart leap" isn't a huge issue...repeating it 4 times a page is. The problem is not intrinsic to the sentence, the problem is due to the context. My three word sentence-- "Psylent was annoyed"--is not good, bad, or neutral. Here's some objective information about it: it contains three words, it is in the past tense, it is a complete sentence, it is grammatically correct. The only way to judge it as good, bad, or neutral is by establishing a metric(s) and judging it in context.
From my first post here:
So yes, context is important. But the baseline is always the single sentence.A language, although not a closed system by any means, is a fairly stable one at any given moment of its existence. Upon closer inspection, the purely linguistic structures of any literary work can be parsed successfully to reveal their meaning. These structures (words, phrases, clauses, sentences), however, exist in a context (a scene of a story, for example). Sometimes, it is clear from the context what the meaning of the linguistic structures should be. But what their meaning is in isolation may not overlap with what it should be. That gap constitutes a reliable measuring device for a writer's skill.
Not if you consider "content" = "you perception of what you read, based on interpretations and associations aroused by the text". The lack of commas in a literary context changes a reader's perception of what he reads. The phrase "blanket page" in a literary context changes the perception of the reader. You cannot go on giving me examples of ordinary communication when I'm talking about literary discourse. Literary discourse is not only referential, but self-reflexive (Roman Jacobson). It moves centripetally, not only centrifugally (Northrop Frye). This means that the web of associations produced by the lack of commas and odd phrases like "a blanket page" matter just as much as "what is being talked about" in the mind of a careful reader. So no, please stop giving examples from math and from my own grammatically flawed posts, because you're missing the entire pointI understand your point but you don't seem to understand mine. What is a"blanket page"? I have no idea, I meant blank page and you pointing it out as a typo indicates you took it as being blank page as well. Content is distinct from form. Form can influence the view of content and content can change views on form, but while they are closely linked they are not the same thing. Words are a form used to offload content into someone else's brain. Words are, in many cases, representation of sensory date and ideas. They are an attempt at communication. Often the communication is only partially successful. The form has failed the content. Good writing is often writing that conveys the content precisely while bad writing is often guilty of conveying meaning poorly. Typos are a marring of form but despite the shoddy writing the content can still be offloaded.
I already made a point about infelicitous examples above, so I won't repeat it. Suffice to say the whole first part of that quote falls into that category. Not saying you're wrong though, I did write that sentence poorly. And of course language can be manifested only as utterances. Not LIMITED to them, because that leads to some very blinkered visualization of what language in action is about. To say that language is limited to utterances is like saying that the universe is limited to combinations of atoms. All spoken language consists of utterances. All writen language consists of their orthographical (written) representations. It's that simple really. It's only when you start unpacking the implications of it does it get incredibly complex.As another example, "Language IS NOT a set of concrete utterances btw. Language can be MANIFESTED ONLY AS a set of concrete utterances. I tend to carefully write stuff like that, read it carefully too, cause there is a difference", can easily be characterized as bad writing. On a basic level there should be a comma between "utterances" and "btw", "read it carefully" needs additional content to make it clear whether you're making a claim about how you read or how I should read, and "cause" needs to have a ' before it to indicate missing letters. The potentially largest problem though is that the point as expressed is stupid. Language is not limited to manifesting as utterances. Utterance is by definition a sound
Literary theorists, including one of the most influential of those in the past 100 years (Mikhail Bakhtin), have used the word utterance as a basis of their discussions of literature. I understand that I'm stepping on some fairly academic ground here, but the proper response would be, to my mind, to just ask me what I'm talking about, not google a few dictionary definitions and throw them at me without any idea where to go from there.So for a discussion about writing and books utterance is the wrong word to be using because utterance only applies to spoken word and does not apply to written words or to sign language and is therefore a flawed and overly narrow definition of the manifestation of language.
As for that, google Delany's "About 5,750 Words". He makes a better case for "style vs. content = stupid distinction" than I ever could. The essay is in books.google.com in its entirety. Also check out these links:However, I don't actually consider your point stupid because it's so obviously wrong that I'm assuming it isn't actually what you wanted to express. Your point is that form dictates content and therefore form is content, which I don't consider stupid, but I do disagree with. So your form has flaws but that doesn't mean your content does.
Sorry if I sound sharp, btw (did it right this time), it's how I tend to write when intellectually excited. And God knows, that tends to happen rarely to me on the internets, so thanks
Last edited by Trip; August 25th, 2010 at 01:10 AM.
Internet sarcasm is an artform.