An attempt to say something about brevity without running on (and on).
Saturday, 2011-10-22 | demongin.org, Journal, On Writing Well
At Spark, we are focused on convergence and disruption — they generate each other. We like convergence because this is where major opportunities arise. The status quo breaks down and the traditional market leaders are vulnerable. We like to invest in the disrupters.
Odds are good that if his long-form works are something you enojy, your newfound role-model's microblog will turn out just like everything else in your life that you bought sight-unseen: the reality is a mawkish parody of what you had hoped for and expectation, as all mothers must eventually concede, is the mother of disappointment.
The problem, in the main, with microblogs, is that they end up being either one of two things:
- completely vapid and unabashedly self-serving advertisements for content (e.g. a book or seminar or whatever) that point, MC Escher-like, back at the original, vapid microblog posts as if the content were actually there all along,1 or,
- un-edited streams of consciousness that, while occasionally Reddit frontpage-worthy, are generally about as useful as babytalk.2
Everyone knows that Hamlet thought that brevity was the soul of wit and even if they don't, most will agree that a keen intellect quickly cuts the heart from what a clumsier mind takes hours and hours to butcher.
Similarly, if most people liked epigrams in college, they probably remember their Horace: "brevis esse laboro: obscurus fio."3 Even if they don't, however, most will agree that the hardest thing in the world is to say something about how or why one ought to practice and master brevity without running on at great length about it (and thereby illustrating the exact opposite principle of the one they are describing).
All of which is to say and do exactly that and confess, in extreme circuity, that I have been scared of my own blog for a few months now: I want to write short posts (shorter posts, at least), but brevity, as the old card-player's saying goes, is not my long suit.
But it just occurred to me (in the midst of unloading the dishwasher, of all times) that an essayist who is unable or unwilling to so much as make the attempt, well, he's no essayist at all, really: he has gone from being a brave attempter of things whose uncertain outcomes makes them worth attempting in the first place to a lowly expositor of the fully-conceived (yuck).
So, long story short, look for short(er) blog posts from me in the near term.