If you haven’t had a chance to catch Joel Watts’ response to my previous post on his HuffPo hot mess, by all means, go take a look. It’s the post with a color photo of the lovely Cecilia Bartoli near the top of the page and a black-and-white self-portrait of Joel farther down.
To the charge of reckless disregard for intelligible language, Joel pleads not guilty by reason of “nuance,” and deflects the criticism back at me, writing:
. . . in spite of not needing to answer imbeciles, I wante [sic] to speak to the use of several of these phrases — phrases that cannot be googled.
If Joel or anyone else did not understand me, I regret that I wasn’t clearer. When I read works by talented authors, and I encounter an odd turn of phrase, I endeavor to grasp the meaning. Consider the oft-misquoted line (and title!) from Dylan Thomas: “Do not go gentle into that good night.” Many people will insist on turning the word “gentle” into an adverb. But the master poet used an adjective. Why did he do that? It’s worth digging into, but only because we know that Dylan Thomas was a great writer — an artist, not an oaf hiding behind the fig leaf of “nuance.”
I only Googled some of Joel’s word mash-ups in order to see if they were things he’d picked up somewhere else — not seeking definitions, but vainly searching for examples from more competent authors. As I tried to convey in my earlier post, when a writer is as ill-equipped as Joel, it is often difficult to tell whether he’s reaching into a bag of jumbled phrases he picked up from heaven-knows-where or if he’s going out on a limb and inventing something new.
The problem is one of nuance. Literalists, or rather those who ignorantly claim literalism as what the letter says rather than how the letter is used to say, decry nuance. It is the devil, the one devil, they believe in.
I embrace nuance. But I cannot countenance idiocy masquerading as subtlety. I also embrace lucidity, and when the time calls for it, very direct and clear speech. That time is now:
One more thing before I wrap up this quick post: Joel has referred to Vridar as a “conspiracy site.” What do you readers think of that assessment?
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