Saturday, October 29, 2022

Reading the Overlong AVI Posts

I often wear people out with the introductory material before I even start writing about something.  Hopefully not this time.

Going back and editing the very long discussions about Tinder, polygamy, mating strategies and current mating practices I rather winced at how difficult much of my writing is to read. I write paragraphs well.  I don't string them together all that well.

Years ago a commenter here thought she was complimenting me by noting that every sentence is worth stopping and thinking about. When you read that about an author, it usually means they have taken on too many topics at once and have not contained that well.  In my case that is paragraphs, not sentences, but there is truth to it.  I have toyed with the idea of marking each paragraph or small group of paragraphs (I can make it up to about three before I have to divert to the side and provide some context or additional thought to pursue) as bullet points.  I write in bullet points with numerous asides, which results in a squirrel-like behavior of darting here and there, making my points as a sort of mosaic rather than a linear progression. 

I deeply admire writers and speakers who can gather many thoughts under control and discard those that will distract, arranging the remainder into a coherent argument. I can only approximate. All of you who remain do well to hang with me here. But it does give a key to how to read me. Every paragraph might indeed be worth stopping what you are doing and contemplating.  If you just keep plowing forward you may just get overloaded with partial ideas and not have a coherent takeaway. 

Pivot. The underlying cause of this is neurological for me.  I do not sustain attention well. When it gets very bad, I crave activities that are interesting enough to hold my attention but calm enough to provide some relaxation. Over the years, things like baseball statistics, messing around with BASIC for fun, or these days, Zach Lowe podcasts while walking or driving hit that balance point. Much better than previous choices of adrenaline rushes when I was young. But mostly, I want this constant feed of new information in order to pour it back out again and something about my brain itself gets bored and stops taking it in and I have to switch to thinking about it myself.  

Tyler Cowen reads a book until he feels he has enough to carry on  better by himself than the author will do, and drops the book wherever he is. I could never do that, but I get it. There was a Kurt Vonnegut short story character (vaguely remembered) who was force by the government to carry more and more weight to equalise his physical superiority to others, and had his thinking interrupted by shocks with increasing frequency in order to equalise his superior intellect.  Those forced him to be faster, stronger, better. 

If only.  I'd love to claim that is what happened to me, making me ever ready to tackle a new topic and pick it up instantly at high levels. It seems rather like the opposite, that I carry the interrupting shocks with me, thinking (and writing) in this darting-everywhere fashion. Thank you all for hanging in there with this. I do get that this squirrel-like behavior does sort of work.  Nuts do get collected.  We make it through the winter.  But whether you try to absorb every bullet point and put some thought into it or just dance along until one catches your fancy and you think about that, you are right either way.


Dave said...

Harrison Bergeron

Not quite what you remembered but certainly apropos for these times.

DCC Men's Saturday said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
james said...

Very apropos. We seem to have a lot of cases of "dog-in-the-manger" by proxy.

JMSmith said...

I don't think you are a "shotgun" writer, but I also think there are good and bad "shotgun" writers. I spent many years puzzling over books by "shotgun" writers, looking for threads and themes that were not there. It was a great liberation to realize that some books are a string of epigrams that can be started and ended anywhere. If the epigrams are good, the book is good. On the other hand, some very good books lack a single quotable sentence. A good "shotgun" book is best read while sitting on a porch with a good view, perhaps with a pipe in hand. But with that said, I think your posts are generally logical and often quotable.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Well, I may have whittled my audience down to an intelligent group.

Also, as when I had some musical talent but played the guitar poorly because of poor fine-motor coordination, I develop tricks to keep the audience engaged. I'm also not bad at that in writing. I'm not telling anyone what those tricks are.

Donna B. said...

"Well, I may have whittled my audience down to an intelligent group."

Nah... I'm still here.