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Mar 19, 2002 07:27 AM
by Eldon B Tucker
At 11:45 PM 3/18/02 -0500, you wrote:
Eldon wrote: <<Do you mean to say: Even if we would rather not acknowledge it, we have to think for ourselves. There is something worthwhile in the postings on the list. If willing, we can learn from others. Some materials contain errors, disinformation, and result from troll-like activity. Even so, we can get to their bottom line and find what little value they contain. (I took this as a challenge to see if I could sort out what you said in the sentence above.)>>>> ====================================== Yeah, but you made it all much too simplistic! Sorry, no cigar! Not a chance, really! Those sentences are so short and simplistic that, I suspect, even our house guest (who is known as a "dog" by some people!) might, just possibly, figure them out! Now I ask you in all seriousness, Eldon, how do you expect people to learn to really "think for themselves" if they're not challenged to do so in some way? Eh? Or do you think that you "prefer" things that are "easier" to figure out? What is it? Are you so rich that you figure you shouldn't even have to try to figure out new things---surely not?
Mauri: One book I enjoyed reading was ON WRITING: A MEMOIR OF THE CRAFT by Stephen King. It's partly autobiographical and partly on writing clearly. A good book is one that holds you. Once you start reading it, you cannot put it down until finished. The story holds you, and you don't stumble on the words. Everything comes across clearly, and your imagination is free to paint colorful pictures of the action. When the writing is more difficult, it makes the reader struggle to decipher it. A simple idea can be made hard with the wrong words. A hard idea can be made easy with cleverly chosen words. Picking the right words is a skill we can all refine, just as an painter learns to pick the right colors to go onto the canvas. Everyone develops their own writing style. The philosophy that I try to apply to writing would say: make the words transparent so that the ideas can shine through. Gerald would remind us of the "fog factor," which is a measure of how difficult a particular passage is to read. When writing or editing something, I'll let Microsoft Word do a grammar check. When I'm through editing, I'd consider it better if the following have gone down: sentences per paragraph words per sentence characters per word number of passive sentences Flesh-Kincaid Grade Level Since I'm interested in the topic of writing clearly, I thought it would be fun to rework your sentence. You had mentioned that, "My wife just read the preceding and complained about running out of breath, said I'd be thrown out of any English class!" That caught my attention. Writing clearly is important. But with Theosophy, there is a counterbalancing aspect to presenting materials. Because of the complexity of the philosophy and how everything is interrelated to everything else, Theosophy is best taught in an iterative manner. Different aspects are presented each time, with additional details given. Not everything is directly stated, giving the reader opportunity to bridge the gaps in their own thinking and learn the art of symbolic/metaphysical thought. The goal is to bring someone to have an exploring mind that thinks for itself and is capable of sustained original insights. The effort is not simply to indoctrinate someone into a collection of rigid metaphysical dogma. The difficult balancing act is between writing clearly and not saying everything at once. It involves progressively explaining things over a period of time rather than trying to cram everything into a single essay. When we acquire this skill, we become teachers to some small degree. Until we can teach and share what we've learned, we only partially know it. It is only when we have expressed our understanding in the world that we have fully integrated it into our lives. This includes expressing it in our actions and expressing it in the minds of others by our clear communication of the insights. There are two topics. First is how to write clearly. There is no formula. We each develop our own style. Second is how to communicate the mysteries in an iterative, progressive way. This may be in sharing insights or in what we do in life. It could even be in something as simple as our making a phone call and cheering up a discouraged friend. We each have our own interests. For me, this line of discussion offers more value than the historic discussions. Clarity of mind, connectedness to life, and learning to be a light to the world are all important. The haggling over half-a-dozen conflicting theories over what a scrap of paper says about what someone thought about someone else a century ago seems far removed from real life. (Note that I got carried away with that last sentence. 31 words! That's far too long? Perhaps I should rewrite it?) -- Eldon