Monday, October 2, 2017


CwHD 23

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STYLE, LIES, AND OTHER CONUNDRUMS

Two weeks ago, I began a series of observations on writers and how character, or the lack of same, stamps its mark on their work. I defined style, in this context, as the way a writer used grammar, syntax, and vocabulary to embellish or compress his work to fit a specific context, purpose, or audience.

A useful exercise is to consider style in a different context, using images of two cars and a truck. All are from 1959. Eisenhower was president. Hawaii became a state. Gigi won nine Oscars including best picture. I chose that distant year to give some separation from the reality of now, and to give your imagination more room to play.

Consider the following three images. Who are the drivers you see behind the wheel of these vehicles?




With your drivers clear in your mind's eye, use your mind's nose to smell a rat. All images lie, and moving images lie absolutely. Is a picture worth a thousand words? Not in my book. Words do not stimulate the imagination as do photographs or video. Words are just symbolic representations of actions, ideas, people, places, and things. They are one step removed from the reality they represent.

Images, on the other hand, put us in the driver's seat. Thinking errors do the rest. Questions of style can be answered superficially with general responses. Tall, short, quick, slow: descriptors of that ilk. Or, as I did with Tilman in the previous editions of CwHD, one can probe a little deeper.

Before I move on to the character of Ernest Hemingway, I want to consider those errors we commonly make when trying to think our way out of a closet.




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