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Thread: Writer's style; Writers' styles

  1. #1

    Writer's style; Writers' styles

    Hellos to those who write!
    Putting things into words is an interesting activity. For those of us practicing zazen, words take up additional weight--like hiking himalayas--we carry fewer and fewer of them with us.
    Well, that's not quite true, but I'm sticking with this metaphor for the moment. Metaphors ultimately fail if pushed past the brief point of their usefulness, but during that brief juncture, they can be very helpful.

    The fact is, the way I write is the way I write and someone experiencing me in person would have to calibrate these two (the in person speaking 'me' and the writing 'me.'
    Maybe it's a generational thing--I am 58--maybe it's an educational thing--I did a lot of reading when I was young.
    I remember the first time ever I blogged (I was immediately pounced on by others--it was as if I was in a Little Lord Fauntleroy suit on the rough side of the playground!--
    I was told how disingenuous my language was, and who-did-I-think-I-was putting on airs, and that I was a fake, and all. (!!!!)
    Perhaps it is more of a pre-computer/pre-texting, pre-blogging thing than anything else (my writing's beginnings pre date these things--I still prefer fountain pens--)
    The fact is, I use expletives in my daily language--I love the word fuck (come on, it's just the BEST!--it's a verb, a noun, an adverb--with that fricative and that hard glottal stop it is fun to say and no matter how many times you say it it never gets tiresome)-but what is fun for saying isn't as fun on the ears for hearing and when I'm around a lot of people all liberally using the F-word and its multiple permutations, it gets out and out boring. Sometimes I like taking dusty words off the shelf--for example recently I used the word purchase--I was trying to get a grip on a jar I wanted to open--"here," I said to my friend, "could you give it a try, I can't get a good purchase on it."
    He loved it!--this word in this way--But then, he greatly appreciated so many things, little things, things which go unseen, unheard by others...

    Many years ago I had a boyfriend who accused me of trying to make his father feel bad. Turned out I was 'just speaking normally' but I was using words not found in his father's vocabulary (and no, nothing as 'fancy' as 'purchase') and that I was trouncing around with my 'college education' all 'in his face.'
    I was shocked, as I had no awareness my words were causing consternation (ok, ok, 'making his dad feel bad').

    Back to writing: It is one thing to have met someone and have a sense of the flesh and blood 'who' doing the writing and it is something else to only have their written words by which to come to know them.

    I know that in sitting with different groups over the years I have experienced some teachers--they open their mouth--they start to speak and my mind says "You jerk, what the fuck are you talking about?!" and I watch my mind say that and I wonder that I have such a response. It has been very helpful to my practice to have such a teacher say the things they have in the way they have JUST so I could encounter this place in my mind! I have never told this particular teacher I thought he was joke and a disservice to practice and he has no right blah blah blah. It is something I have not fully digested yet, I am still in the process of seeing how his words, his manner set something off in me (revulsion!). (my same sweet friend mentioned above who helped me open the jar, respected this same teacher whom I have limited tolerance for--at his (unspoken) insistence, I continued contact, but... chose to limit it. I chose to broaden my contacts with other teachers.
    It is a wide world after all.
    This personality stuff is...this personality stuff. Other students seem to benefit from the above mentioned teacher. My opinion is after all, only my opinion. It is my job to see the origins of my distaste...and anyone who lets me encounter this in myself helps me do it and I am grateful to them, even if I don't know that yet.

    It takes time to come here, and time to read and time to write. I don't have a lot of time, so that mean's coming here somehow is important--because I do it when I do it--with all the other things I could be doing/attending to. It takes time to read, I don't read all of what is happening, don't have the time, I skim over other's styles, recognizing that in person I would be listening to them fully, but here on threads I just skip through and most of the time I have nothing to add, nothing to say, or very very little; precious little.

    So this thing about writers and styles and how others' words have impact or don't is something I think is quite important to ponder, consider, and celebrate!

  2. #2

    Re: Writer's style; Writers' styles

    HI,

    C.G. Jung said something like: " While the shadow(subconscious dark side - negative and positive aspects) is "the most accessible" of the three archetypes and therefore "the easiest to experience," it is "a moral problem that challenges the whole personality." Coming to terms with it requires "considerable moral effort" because we do not want to admit that we ourselves possess the dark qualities we despise. We unconsciously project our shadow outward and see it in others rather than becoming conscious of it in ourselves. In Jesus' words, we see the mote in our neighbor's eye but are blind to the beam in our own."

    I won't go into what the "shadow" is and what the archetypes are because I'm not an expert and I think for our practice it's unnecessary. Anyway, it's easy to get the gist of it (there's always google... bing is better!). Anyway, I truly believe the above and when ever I feel like criticizing someone, I stop and thing about this. Sometimes I do it after I've criticized and I realize what a hypocrite I've been (not imply anything to your situation Keishin, just my experience). So now I just believe it is impossible to criticize someone without criticizing myself. A good reason not to do it! But I'm no superhero, it'll happen again I'm sure... but I'll feel bad.

    I'm trying not to swear so much anymore. I think context is really important. If we are discussing swearing, we probably need to swear. If I stub my toe, it's likely to happen. I don't think swearing when we are angry or because we are angry is all that great. Anger makes a person ugly and dirty language just makes things uglier, IMHO. I'm sure geography, education, upbringing, etc. has a lot to do with how much or little a person swears... Where I'm from, it is very common for young kids to young adults to swear out in public. But we also have a fairly conservative older population here who, I'm sure, are just shocked by this (maybe used to it by now?)... and that's one reason not to swear, in normal conversation, out of respect for those who don't want to hear it... also, I think it's just one more way to be a more positive person.. it's pretty easy not to swear, so I won't bother. There's a million words in the English language. I would rather come up with something witty or ambiguous or strange or goofy or funny to say than to fall back on those "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television" George Carlin R.I.P.

    CAM

  3. #3

    Re: Writer's style; Writers' styles

    Hello Cam
    I am fascinated by your response in ways I won't go into here!
    you uncannily directly address a whole lot I left out--but that would be a different thread (and it regards theory of mine that we don't just receive the teachings of our teachers but aspects of their shadow side as well).

    This thread I really just wanted to bring up personality and style in written expression and how these things color how we receive content.
    I wanted to say the written word is not the person in as much as the map is not the territory.

    I wanted to put forth from my own experience that observing (my response to another) is instructive. Not because it is 'true' for what I have observed in them, but it is a way to find truth about something about me.

    I have found it isn't necessary to put my reaction to another's words into a statement to them or a statement about them. In observing my reaction, turns out it is more something for me to take note of for myself.

    Also fascinating to me your remark about swearing and pain (toe stubbing) because JUST NOW while listening to the radio show Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, they mentioned a study in which uttering swear words was proven to increase one's tolerance to pain (swearing actually helps!!). I love it! Now I can unabashedly swear (for 'medicinal purposes' only!)!

    But I have found the use of expletives to serve a great many functions--as way actually to bond with others, and give them permission to speak freely in their own vernacular. When I have taught classes, my appearance at first makes others think I am very straight laced and conservative, but in my presentation, in my conversation I try to open things up so as not to exclude anyone present, but to make sure the water is fine for all to join in--in the shallow and the deep end of the pool.

    In working with people in my capacity I like to see those who are hypersensitve to expletives to get over it: these are just words after all, so that relationships with others aren't aborted because of something which in essence is an arbitrary position taken toward words and the speakers thereof; and I like people who are hyposensitive to expletives to re-calibrate the who, what and where of their utterances so that the how of expressing themselves becomes more accurate and suited to the situation and to their goal: communication. (We social workers do find ourselves in devil's advocacy situations and are detested equally by all!)

    Tolerance. Finding a proper dose--like spice, like medicine--too much and you can call me 'bootscrape' or 'doormat' depending on how much muck of yours you want me to wear--usually I'm wearing plenty enough of my own!
    Too little, and we all take offense at everyone else taking offense at all the offensive things out there offensive people are doing.

    To understand another's perpective; to understand our own perspective; to understand perspective as perspective...

    Someone holds up a flower
    Upon beholding it, this raised flower, someone smiles

  4. #4

    Re: Writer's style; Writers' styles

    Quote Originally Posted by Keishin
    Hellos to those who write!

    It takes time to come here, and time to read and time to write. I don't have a lot of time, so that mean's coming here somehow is important--
    sitting and learning about Buddhist philosophy is very important and coming here helps with that. I don't write much. Your post was interesting. How did such a great word like 'fuck' get to be abused so much? :lol:

  5. #5

    Re: Writer's style; Writers' styles

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich
    How did such a great word like 'fuck' get to be abused so much? :lol:
    Hi all,

    Am I the only person on the list who thinks so-called expletives are just wonderful all the time and fulfill a great function. I grew up in 60's-70's Beverly Hills where condemnation of expletives was considered a strange phenomenon exclusive to bizarrely conservative areas of the U.S. adn a remnant of a far less enlightened time. This was true of adults and children. But perhaps being the children of immigrants, there were far more concrete issues than that of language. I remember seeing the show "Lenny" when I was a teenager (it was, of course, about the life of Lenny Bruce, a courageous crusader for freedom on speech) and being amazed at the strange persecution of someone over words.

    Keishin, thank you for your post, I think it is very important to remember that one's impressions of someone by their words is very different than what they are actually like. And equally important it is to remember that my impression of someone in person is not how they actually are either.

    As for unhelpful teachers/teaching, I am reminded that books I find totally unhelpful (and even dis-helpful) to my practice (e.g. "Everday Zen") are profoundly meaningful and helpful to thousands of other people. And all that is ok.

    cheers, like the new photo,
    rowan

  6. #6

    Re: Writer's style; Writers' styles

    This thread I really just wanted to bring up personality and style in written expression and how these things color how we receive content.
    I wanted to say the written word is not the person in as much as the map is not the territory.
    I'm sorry I got off topic. It just happened that I had swearing and criticism on the brain. No joke.

    I was going to add more... but I'm tired; it's late. This is a very good topic and I think you write very well.

    Again with the swearing/politeness thing, I probably should have mentioned that I'm Canadian. :lol:

  7. #7

    Re: Writer's style; Writers' styles

    Quote Originally Posted by Keishin
    It takes time to come here, and time to read and time to write. I don't have a lot of time, so that mean's coming here somehow is important--because I do it when I do it--with all the other things I could be doing/attending to. It takes time to read, I don't read all of what is happening, don't have the time, I skim over other's styles, recognizing that in person I would be listening to them fully, but here on threads I just skip through and most of the time I have nothing to add, nothing to say, or very very little; precious little.
    Hi.

    I totally agree in what you're saying. I don't have a lot of time either, even less now...
    I make it an "priority" to check in on the forum now and then.
    Not writing much, just reading what other say, maybe one reply or two a day, mostly short.
    People see me as a "regular" or an "old timer" i guess, maybe even a weirdo sometimes.
    But in a sense it's "my zendo", "my forum", "my friends", and i have an obligation to it, them and me.
    Therefore i make it an "priority".
    We all have the same amount of time, the only difference is how we prioritize it...

    And may i add that there are some peoples reply's i always stop to look at more closely, and you're one of them.

    Mtfbwy
    Tb

  8. #8

    Re: Writer's style; Writers' styles

    Hi, Keishin.

    Great post. I, too, have a writing "voice" that is a bit different than my speaking voice . . . my father was a college prof, my mother a librarian, and both of them, plus graduate school, stressed that the written word is different than the spoken word in that it is somewhat permanent and, therefore, vulnerable to analysis in a way the spoken word isn't. My work has created a need to be very precise so that my instructions/intent/meaning will be as clear as possible to my students and colleagues (even though complete precision is impossible). I write the way I write . . . but it is very different than my speaking voice (you ought to hear me on a gig!!!).

    As to your ex-boyfriend's father's response, that's a problem I encounter fairly frequently here in TN. There are many folks who will bristle if they feel someone is "putting on airs." Knowing one's audience is, again, important. But, at the same time, you have to be yourself and use the language you are most comfortable using.

    Peace,
    Bill

    PS--It's nice to be able to read and post here at Treeleaf again . . . my family and I just got back from a week at the beach.

  9. #9

    Re: Writer's style; Writers' styles

    I write to pay the bills, and I love my job. It isn't the great ground-breaking novels I dreamed of as a youth, I write web content for a variety of companies. The style they all have in common is extremely lean, concise writing that can be understood by those with a 5th grade comprehension but engaging enough for adults to read as well. This has affected my written communication elsewhere. I used to be quite verbose, circling a point for several paragraphs or pages before swooping in to finish it off in a flourish. I am much less wordy now. It is all about the point and getting to it in the shortest way possible.

    A funny byproduct of writing in this style is that my thinking has changed. I am more patient with others since I have trained myself to recognize confusion and simplify it to its base components. I was once a very impatient person who became easily frustrated, now I see things in a series of simple steps that help relieve my frustration. Closing paragraphs are rarely necessary and considered fluff in the style of writing I do most often. This was perhaps the hardest change to make, but what in life comes neatly tied up and complete? It's okay to be left hanging on occasion, to have no tidy ending. The Zen of concise writing, if you will. No ends, no beginnings. :wink:

    As for swears, my high school creative writing teacher had it right in my opinion. We were allowed to use them in our work but we had to make them integral to the piece. They had to evoke an emotional response for the reader, not just be there for the sake of being said (or written). Sure, we could typecast a character as a bad boy by having the dialogue peppered with expletives, but if we save the powerful 'fuck' for the right moment, it will carry that much more weight with the reader. Unfortunately, this lesson doesn't always follow me into real life, as evidenced by the fact it took several weeks to get my then toddler to quit saying it repeatedly after hearing it from me. ops:

    Joshin

  10. #10

    Re: Writer's style; Writers' styles

    Okay, I am going to write this just so folks know I am not a 24/7 tight-ass ...

    FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK .... FUCK!

    Okay! :shock:

    However, I only do that once a year ... unlike some other guy in my lineage. 8)

    Now, I return this program to the "Soft & Gentle Speech" Channel.

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS -Just today, I was telling some reporter for Tricycle magazine what a soft spoken, friendly bunch we are around here. The article he is writing is about how the internet makes Buddhists crazy or something.

  11. #11

    Re: Writer's style; Writers' styles

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK .... FUCK!

    Okay! :shock:

    However, I only do that once a year ... unlike some other guy in my lineage. 8)
    Hi.

    And what does your wife think about that? :twisted:
    Mine would have gone berserk... ops:

    (Hey, i made a funny one. You didn't see that one coming, did you?... )

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  12. #12
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Writer's style; Writers' styles

    Quote Originally Posted by Deadbuddha
    Again with the swearing/politeness thing, I probably should have mentioned that I'm Canadian.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    However, I only do that once a year ... unlike some other guy in my lineage.
    :lol:

  13. #13
    Treeleaf Unsui rculver's Avatar
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    Re: Writer's style; Writers' styles

    Quote Originally Posted by Fugen
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK .... FUCK!

    Okay! :shock:

    However, I only do that once a year ... unlike some other guy in my lineage. 8)
    Hi.

    And what does your wife think about that? :twisted:
    Mine would have gone berserk... ops:

    (Hey, i made a funny one. You didn't see that one coming, did you?... )

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen
    :lol:

    Ron

  14. #14
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Writer's style; Writers' styles

    If you are going to use the F-word, may I suggest this reference:
    "The F-word" edited by Jesse Sheidlower. 1995, Random House, 232 pages.
    It is a history of the word and a dictionary of all the ways it can be used (i.e., fuck-a-doodle-doo), with an appendix on how to say it in various foreign languages.
    I just looked on Amazon and apparently there is a new edition coming out.
    http://www.amazon.com/F-Word-Jesse-S...8122466&sr=8-3
    OK, now fuck off, and I mean that in the nicest most possible way :mrgreen:

  15. #15
    Senior Member Kent's Avatar
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    Re: Writer's style; Writers' styles

    Too many words... :shock:

  16. #16

    Re: Writer's style; Writers' styles

    ROFL...

  17. #17

    Re: Writer's style; Writers' styles

    And yes, laconism also is a style of its own...

    relationship
    how do we enter into one, maintain one, nourish and nurture one?
    If we can do this with one thing, with one person, it can be done (some might argue it IS done) with everything else.

    (I am learning about mourning sudden loss of relationship)

    from exchanges here--watching the edges of perspectives come up against each other--dialogue is essential, and that means words (even bare minimums of them) and that means styles and that means perceptions...

    Thank you all for furthering inquiry and discussion vis a vis styles/perceptions/persons.

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