As a hiatus from my usual spiritual/(un)political/theological/literary reading fare, I'm working through a number of business books, and it's not unlike the difference between a warm bed and a cold porcelain toilet seat on a winter morning. Intellectual freefall. Consider the excerpt below: clichés in red, surplus words in grey. This writing is so windy it makes me want to hide behind a tree.
"Once you're up and running, maximizing your profits is the name of the game. And it's an ongoing continuous process of improvement. How can I do this better and more efficiently? What it really boils down to is control. The more control you exert over every aspect of your business, the more profitable it will become. This requires you to pay close attention to all of the details so that nothing slips through the cracks."
These days anybody who knows anything about whatever can go write a book on it. I suppose I shouldn't let it get under my skin, I just feel writing should be taken seriously. We're making information king and degrading the noble art of communication to something you do on a cell phone.
English is deteriorating. The dictionaries are happy to tell you about all the great words we're adding - we never seem to hear about all the precise, descriptive, beautiful, archaic words we're flippantly discarding out the back door of civilization. Our public education system is in a tailspin; literacy among college students is slipping. Blogging and chat aren't necessarily helping either.
I don't think it is a deterioration we can stop, but I wonder if we can't slow it down a little - just a little. I'm no Clemens or Frost, but I like to think I have an appreciation, however small, for the succinct, the spicy, the sensitive. We need language that is real; language that shakes and stirs; language with wit and wonder; language that appreciates mystery, and beauty, and wind, and all those other unwieldy abstractions.
We need language that breathes.