inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #226 of 259: (fom) Tue 22 May 12 21:30
    
A main, if not the main, point he makes -- about something that had been 
bothering/puzzling me since I got my first and only and currently in my 
bookcase copy of S&W in 1959 -- is that so many of their rules (or 
whatever they are) are simply wrong. 

Yes, the word "linguistics" appears in the essay, I do realize that. And 
no, I don't think I misread the word "text."

Maybe we just disagree! I've been waiting for someone to come along and 
say those things for decades, and this guy said them.
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #227 of 259: Mike Godwin (mnemonic) Tue 22 May 12 22:08
    

Oh, well, I certainly agree with Pullum and you that some of the Elements
are wrong if we take them to be "rules" or even as descriptions of what
works best. It seems strange to call E.B. White a "bumbler" though. As, you
know, the genesis of THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE is a White memoir of Strunk in
The New Yorker (which I don't recall having read), and a publisher found
Strunk's original book and asked White to update it. (And the resulting book
probably generated an astonishing income for White, even considered apart
from his other sources of income.)

Should White have consulted philologists and linguistics scholars in
fulfilling a contract in which he was to base the project on Strunk? It's
hard to me to see how he could have done so and honored the assignment,
either in the late 1950s, when linguistics was really beginning to ferment,
or in the post-Chomsky revisions, where those who like the book have certain
expectations of it. I'm sure it was hard enough to update the book to the
extent he did.

(White calls only eight of the Elements "rules," but of course Pullum
is correct that the book is widely mistaught as if every maxim and
prescription in it amounted to a rule. I don't think that's White's fault,
so it seems dumb to me to rant about White as a pernicious influence,
as I believe Pullum does.)

When I got more interested in advancing my own skills as a writer, I
found Strunk & White inadequate. John Trimble's WRITING WITH STYLE is
a much better book for a student learning how to write, I think, and if one
favors certain kinds of prescriptivist references, I'd recommend H.W. Fowler
(later editions) and Theodore Bernstein.
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #228 of 259: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 23 May 12 05:26
    
While I appreciate the discussion of Strunk and White and writing
style, it's topic drift and should perhaps be pursued elsehwere.
(Perhaps it would be a fitting later discussion for Inkwell.)

This discussion is specifically about Mark Dery's book, _I Must Not
Think Bad Thoughts_. We're nearing the end of the discussion; Mark has
promised a closing post today or tomorrow. Thanks to all who have
participated in this lively exchange.
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #229 of 259: M. Dery (mark-dery) Wed 23 May 12 06:38
    
Many thanks, (jonl), for inviting me to Inkwell, and for your probing
questions and incisive comments. Thanks, too, to all who offered
thought-provoking responses to _Bad Thoughts_ or enlightened (and
enlightening) questions about my work, most notably (tcn), (dlwilson),
(dgault), (wickett), and, via pneumatic tube, Roy Christopher. Regards,
M.D.
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #230 of 259: david gault (dgault) Wed 23 May 12 06:51
    

Thanks for a lively read Mark.  

In parting, please know I joined your team as soon as you commented
on the HofC program at UC Santa Cruz.  Man, they were my neighbors
when I was an undergrad, what a noisy bunch!
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #231 of 259: M. Dery (mark-dery) Wed 23 May 12 07:25
    
Hilarious, David. Naturally, you have to break a few dorm lamps if
you're busy demolishing The Hierarchical Dualisms That Structure
Western Ontology!* Thanks for your smart, on-topic thoughts throughout,
and best with your own work. As ever, M.D. 

*(Haraway, if memory serves. And it may not, at this age.)
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #232 of 259: Gail Williams (gail) Wed 23 May 12 08:06
    
Thanks for the visit, Mark.  For those who are now even more curious
about the book, here's the publisher's site:

<http://upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/i-must-not-think-bad-thoughts>
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #233 of 259: M. Dery (mark-dery) Wed 23 May 12 08:28
    
Gracious of you to say, Gail. Thanks for that, and for posting the
link. Here's the dedicated page on my site:

http://markdery.com/?page_id=198

Geekier WELLbeings might be curious to know that BruceS wrote the
preface, and Gibson and Warren Ellis recently rhapsodized about it on
Twitter. If that's any recommendation. And in some quarters, it is.
More reviews, and a link to the Gibson/Ellis comments, here:

http://markdery.com/?p=334
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #234 of 259: Gail Williams (gail) Wed 23 May 12 08:53
    
Ah, now that's a book page! 
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #235 of 259: . (wickett) Wed 23 May 12 09:24
    

Thank you, Mark. I appreciate a challenge and expanding my mind.

Hold those mind-changing ambitions and perhaps Jamie Dimon will read and
heed someday.
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #236 of 259: David Wilson (dlwilson) Wed 23 May 12 09:51
    
Thanks Mark.  I left academia after attending an anthropology
convention and listening to a lecture on the ethno-ichthyology of the
Hong Kong boat people. 

I was more interested in experiencing new worlds without falling into
too many pigeon-holes.  The images from B-movies and popular music are
more to my taste. 

Your strongest essays are the ones where you refer back to your own
experiences growing up and learning to look at the world around you. 
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #237 of 259: M. Dery (mark-dery) Wed 23 May 12 10:36
    
(wickett): And I appreciate your saying so. I haven't the faintest
interest in changing Jamie Dimon's mind, or even in upsetting his
digestion. If that condemns me to the purgatory of the Cult Author,
well, I've made my not-terribly-troubled peace with that. We get the
readers we deserve; I'd rather stake my claim to a niche market of
overeducated overthinkers than command the devotion of the _Shades of
Grey_ hordes. (Not that selling 10 million copies of a book wouldn't
put steam in my slacks.)
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #238 of 259: M. Dery (mark-dery) Wed 23 May 12 10:39
    
(dlwilson): "Ethno-ichthyology of the
Hong Kong boat people." Wasn't that an indie band in the '80s? No,
that was Birdsongs of the Mesozoic. Anyway, thanks. I can't agree that
the autobiographical essays are necessarily superior to the purely
cultural-critical ones, but I'm pleased to hear something in the book
repaid your time investment. 
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #239 of 259: (fom) Wed 23 May 12 10:45
    
Be sure to check back here for a while in case there are more questions, 
etc.
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #240 of 259: M. Dery (mark-dery) Wed 23 May 12 10:54
    
(fom), dear, one *does* have to earn one's daily crust. 
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #241 of 259: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Wed 23 May 12 11:12
    
Wonderful range and style of conversation (mark-dery) and like all
good conversationalists you leave me wanting more. All the best with
your book tour and future endeavors. A friend well-met.
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #242 of 259: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Wed 23 May 12 11:12
    
Probably should have made that WELL-met :)
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #243 of 259: Mike Godwin (mnemonic) Wed 23 May 12 17:40
    

Thanks, of course, for your engagement, Mark, and for all the valuable work
you've done in changing the world, changing minds,  and promoting superior
cultural understanding. Where would we be without it?
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #244 of 259: M. Dery (mark-dery) Wed 23 May 12 21:51
    
(tcn): Your nuanced cast of mind and intellectual generosity are a
bracing corrective to some of this topic's more loutish tub-thumpers.
Thanks for your never less than stimulating, often inspiring comments
and questions throughout.
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #245 of 259: Rob Myers (robmyers) Thu 24 May 12 04:33
    
I've now ordered the book...
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #246 of 259: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Thu 24 May 12 05:18
    
Aww, I'm verklempt. Looking forward to the next one. 
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #247 of 259: Susan Sarandon, tractors, etc. (rocket) Thu 24 May 12 07:16
    
Lamest Inkwell guest ever?
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #248 of 259: Bryan Higgins (bryan) Thu 24 May 12 08:25
    
I found this unpleasant. Mr. Dery may regret his thin-skinned peevishness
immortalized forever for Google to find.
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #249 of 259: David Wilson (dlwilson) Thu 24 May 12 09:19
    
Come on guys.  He was way too much in love with his writing style and
public persona. That got in the way of WELL norms and customs.  You
have to admit that it wasn't all his fault.  If you'd read some of his
essays you would find that he had some interesting ideas and he
presented them in novel ways.  
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #250 of 259: Bryan Higgins (bryan) Thu 24 May 12 10:11
    
The topic speaks for itself, I believe.
  

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