Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Beautiful Thing Can Never Perfect Be (Before Sunrise)

Verse 1:
Oh, the fatal flaws in your skin;
the floor of the room we’re in . . .
we trace lines in our favourite place,
as we chase away the days.
Beautiful things we knew—and had
we known what was to come,
we would’ve lived like lovers
in a movie, crying out for more.

But we live the only way we know—
yes, it will have to do . . .
One, two, three,
for you and me,
count the ways
a beautiful thing can go astray,
day dawn grey.

Before sunrise
everything was cool.
You were my eyes;
we knew no rules.
Thanks to you and me
a beautiful thing can never perfect be.

Studying Writing Studies

Current issues of the teaching flow:

Fractals: mapping a/one's characteristic sentence, i.e. grammar, onto essay structure as a pseudo-fractal. E.g. parataxis (juxtaposition): "Tell me, how are you?"

Essay structure understood rhetorically—on the model of hypo-/parataxis. E.g. anadiplosis as the model for linking markers at the beginning of new paragraph (gradatio is even better: "My conscience hath a thousand several tongues,/ And every tongue brings in a several tale,/ And every tale condemns me for a villain" [Richard III, 5.3.194]).

An ABC of syntax

Using children's language learning as the model for understanding academic writing: children improvise, then begin to learn the rules and exceptions through practice, then become over-vigorous in their application of the rules under the impetus of error correction: erratology [science of mistakes]. The same thing happens at University, if we rigorously impose an erratological academic grammar on students: grammar A ["academic"]). Of course, students often think such an approach is what is required to learn academic rigour. Through teaching, rather than obsessively correcting, grammar B ["bad"], we can recapture the improvisation and practice phases of language learning, and thereby liberate students from the aporia of erratology. Then they are freed into the possibilities of Grammar C ["crafty," thus the craft of grammar].

David Starkey (ed.), Genre by Example: Writing What We Teach (Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook, 2001).
Winston Weathers, An Alternate Style: Options in Composition (Hayden, 1980).

Sunday, March 1, 2009

To Side with Daedalus

Where exactly does the weight of this writing moment, or rather, moment writing, lie? (Not in the hand like a gold coin—like a weight on your eye.)

This is what I thought, watching my daughter playing, hearing my son counting, hoping it was my wife not my son scrabbling in the kitchen drawer, standing in the shower thinking, waiting to get out without forgetting what I just been thinking I might write in time to husband it into life.

Originally I wrote “significance”—or rather, spoke it sotto voce all’interno del cranio—but “weight” better captures the way the desire to write bears down upon you, as you wait for the moment to arrive.

It’s not so different a weight from the father weight.

Time is not money; money is time. The adage “money buys you time” is false: it allows you to avoid spending time doing something; it allows you to not have to wait for something. That you must spend time writing as you wait for it to arrive is a truth of writing—or rather, this is one way writing is true. But writing also lies because it erases the time you invested in it.

Fatherhood does not.