Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Is it Just Me?

The main reason I used to read books, when I was young and full of
s..., was to find pithy, deep, poetic phrases and sentences. I used to
find them in novels but mostly novels captured my imagination and
seduced me to follow a story to the end once I identified with the
protagonist's quest in some way.

Phrases like "the tension in the air was so thick you could lean on
it" appealed to me. Or, "The door clattered open and the daylight
exploded in his face" Or "He had a cruel saucer face that made smiling
a parody." Phrases like these are what kept me reading and I collected
them. The more phrases, the better the novel for me. I think the
author who took the cake was George Dawes Green (The Juror). These
phrases were like pearls in seas of text and I collected them and
hoped one day I would be a writer equipped to develop better ones and
evoke the same feelings in readers as they did in me.

Then I got interested in how the world works and read Physics, Maths,
Philosophy and so on. And I stopped reading fiction altogether and
discovered another world. Out of all the fields of knowledge, I find
Biblical Scholarship to have the richest and most colorful language -
followed by literary theory, then science. Yesterday, Shadrack was
kind enough to lend me a paper from a scholarly journal and I came
across the phrase, "It is the task of the present article to assess
critically the aspects of MacDonald's attempt"

Lets stop there. Now, this sentence is simple and perhaps boring to
some. But it struck me and made me shift in my chair, pause and sit
up. The language used is simple, yet the clarity of expression is
breathtaking. It makes me pause and ask myself, "would I have put it
that way?" The reader is made attentive of the author's purpose.
Everything read so far is situated and the reader is made to sort of
arrange the furniture in his head and make room for what is to come. I
love that he uses the word "task" to refer to the objective of the
article. And I love the word of the word "present." People complain
that some scholarly papers are complicated, boring and what not but
what I have come to learn is that scholars use the most transparent
and clear expressions in literature. The lengths they go to keep
things clear and simple is admirable.

So anyways, phrases like those keep me reading scholarly papers. Am I
weird or what? Anybody have a similar feeling?

1 comment:

Nyar said...

No ... you're not weird. And no ... it's not just you.