Today I come write to you in the spirit of rebellion as I declare my unbridled desire to experience the English language at its fullest.
Last week my dear friend Will Qualls (@WKQualls) sent out a tweet asking about how important grammar and convention is to bloggers. Will has a special talent for getting people thinking and my thoughts on this topic can’t be contained to the limitations of twitter. When it comes to grammar, there are not a lot of excuses for bad punctuation and misspellings. Though I tend to play my dyslexia card more often then I probably should. With AI enabled word processors and an entire internet world of style and writing guides there is no shortage of resources to keep a writer on track. With a few tutorials and the right programs you two can haz good sentences.
But then again who decides what constitutes “good” or “bad” language? Proper language, like all forms of propriety is dictated by the people in power and when it comes to systems of power I want to burn it all down! Or at least etch my name into the supporting beams of the superstructure. If I’m going to have one calling card, I would like for it to be my anarchistic philosophy on word choice.
So to Will and all the other aspiring bloggers out there I say. Give me your words! Your righteous, eclectic, dangerous words.
Plump and beautiful, shapely, ripe and heavy, oozing with meaning. The fruits of language surround us. Reach out to pluck them off of the lofty tree tops, stash them in your pocket and bring them out at the out at opportune times for all to consume. Salvage them from forgotten shady boughs and thrill me as you pair them in unexpected couplings. Cultivate them and delight us with new and unexpected hybrid varieties.
This my esteemed cohorts is my declaration of linguistic independence.
The established heterodoxy surrounding blogging is that blogs need to be simple and easy to read. Popular guides and posts implore bloggers to write short paragraphs, use simple sentence structures and write to a third grade reading level. If you want to get those clicks you had better be palatable and easy to digest.
I don’t want to be massively appealing or palatable. I refuse to churn out chicken nuggets of content.
I invite you to join me in eschewing popular advice. Take a step toward further rhetorical sincerity and own your meaning. Use whatever the fuck words you want. I am reminded of the lessons of the 19th Century French Absurdists. Their explicit disdain for popular criticism laid the groundwork for modern and contemporary art. The French poet Baudelaire famously illustrated the movement in his allegory of the Perfume and The Dog. He presents his beloved canine companion with the finest perfume in Paris. The pet is rather unsurprisingly revolted by scent. The poet laments:
Ah! wretched dog, if I had offered you a mass of excrement, you would have smelled it with delight, and probably have devoured it. So even you, unworthy companion of my unhappy life, resemble the public, to whom one must never offer delicate perfumes, which exasperate, but carefully raked-up mire’
Baudelaire and his compatriots unshackled themselves from the norms and expectations of their literary times and in so doing achieved lasting influence (they are well known enough to find their way into this sparsely educated Pacific Northwesterners blog)
I shall employ a sophisticated word to make my intentions clear: Iconoclasm. I reject the accepted wisdom on the basis of its inflexible dogmatism and its basic assumptions on value. Clicks do not equal quality!
My intention is to make m word selections and sentence structure on my own judgments of precision and value. The search for meaning and the quest to communicate it is far too important to surrender any tools of expression over to the editorial the edicts of conventional wisdom, promotional algorithms, or popularity contests. Words are too dear to be abandoned so readily
Join me friends in full word liberation. Don’t jettison a word or expression from use simply because you fear syllables, accents or obscurity. Bring it out and show it. We are not dogs or children we can challenge our audiences and ourselves.
Let us strive for greatness in our language. Let us not be afraid fall on our faces as mis-apply and misspell and even, occasionally, abuse our language. We can dust ourselves radiate connotation with our elegant selections.
Don’t take this as a nullification of the axiom, “You must first learn the rules to break the rules”. If working well within the the established wisdom makes you comfortable. Then stick with it. A musician must learn her scales before she can improvise. Step along the well-trodden path for there is much to be learned.
But if you’re ready to break out on your own and blaze new paths. If you wish to unhitch your vocabulary from monotony. Then join the rebellion!
Bloggers! Give me your words!
If you are reading this and you are thinking “I do not have these words to display” “where can I find them?” or “I have them but I don’t know how to use them”
I have good news for you friends. The world of language is as endless as it is accessible. Walk into a library and get lost in the groves of great romantic poets and allow yourself to be influenced by their delicate syntax. Subscribe to a streaming service drill into the reaches of classic 20th century film and extract its vernacular riches. Wade into the great American novels and sink into their sparse deft sentences. Turn on podcasts and allow yourself be activated by the great orators and debaters.
Become word pioneers and make your mark as you teach others what you’ve learned. Try out your multisyllabic finds in an ironic tweet. Revive an antiquated expression you found in a meme generator. Challenge yourself and find ways to feature new words and use them to express your individual thoughts in unconventional ways.
Join me and feel the thrill of freedom as you run roughshod over the rules as you bend language to your will and make it do your bidding.
Fellow bloggers. Give me your words!