Monday, October 6, 2008

game point: Stunk N White V Joe Williams

I'm going to be honest: I Love Strunk and White. Sure, they're not perfect. You could say they have a fair amount of incomplete passes: 'write clearly' and 'avoid a breezy manner' are arguably and ironically not clear. But, they're the home team. Yeah, you could argue that men over 80 shouldn't be playing the game at all, and if you did, I wouldn't blame you.
(I didn't think this sports analogy through very well.)
So, if Strunk and White are the aging, ailing, fiesty home team, then Williams is a pretentious army of star players that arrive in a gleaming sliver bus with their own referrees. They play dirty, rough, never get grass stains on their knees and are self referent to their own greatness.

who do you want to play ball against?

I'm not going to argue with the drawbacks of S&W that we have discussed thoroughly in class. I know, its true, 'write clearly' is not a clear rule. Williams, on the other hand, has an entire chapter devoted to how one can achieve clarity in writing. This is, clearly, more clear. But personally, Williams was just too prescriptive. He's overwhelming. There are too many too specific rules that in the end make me grind my teeth, tap my foot and grow a headache. As the icing on the cake, after an hour of trudging my way through a chapter the end would read "but these are just guides. Ultimately, you need to figure it out for yourself". At which point, steam blew out my ears and I sincerely wondered why I bothered fighting my way through his rules if it ultimately was my call anyhow.

So, I prefer S&W's short commands that are accessible and come ready for interpretation. Because, as Williams acknowledges, that's what I'm going to have to do anyway.

And yes, I know that I could learn some plays from Williams gleaming army. After dissecting them in class, I understand that it is useful to be mindful of character and verb; to specifically arrange the information in my sentences. It will probably improve my passing. But I will never paint my face, stomp my feet and roar at a Williams game. So there.

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