It is quite late, 3:35 am to be exact; yet there is some residual energy, so I will type it away.

Most of today has been devoted to finally reading through the books I got from Harding a month ago and taking notes. I’d rather just read – I’d already read the things weeks ago, but taking accurate notes (in MS Word, alas, as these books are not mine and I cannot mark them up!) are quite necessary, as I need to cite all of these books in the to-be-rewritten-metaphor article, especially Joachim Jeremias’ The Eucharistic Words of Jesus. I actually understood half of the points he made on Greek syntax in the Gospels; I’m not sure whether to be thrilled or frightened.

Which brings me (Killick is not only person that begins sentences with ‘which’, aha!) to a more disturbing point. Certain books lately have just pissed me off. I threw Michael Crotty’s The Foundations of Social Research across the den the other day. It deserves its heavy front-cover crease. I’ll read it many times over the next few years, but I’ll throw it about the same number of times, I’m sure. Then I think I’ll burn it. Likewise I found Mogens Stiller Kjargaard’s Metaphor and Parable to be intolerable today (and it’s not just the translation – it’s the sheer inane thrust of the whole work) but its binding is too stiff for anything but a firearm. Sigh.

I think one of the biggest reasons I got into rhet/comp is that the authors are half readable. There are exceptions, of course – Nan Johnson’s 19th Century Rhetoric in North America flops to mind – although once deciphered, its value emerges. But the tech writing books I spent ‘03-’04 reading in grad school were almost always snoozers. The only one that wasn’t was Dr. MacNealy’s Strategies for Empirical Research in Writing – if only all textbooks were written so clearly and with such brevity. If I ever teach methods, it’s first on the list, updated or not.

But for the most part, the New Testament rhetoric stuff that I read is pretty passable in terms of readability. They usually dig into the text right away, which I like, and forgo an overdose on theory. If they do begin such a rhapsody, it is generally short, within reason, and not physically painful. I’m fully aware that there is a “popular” kind of scholarly writing where a crossover with the bestseller list is possible, and I’m not talking about that. I’m simply referring to actual clarity of speech when discussing complex ideas. I have not yet learned to control my book-throwing impulses when I encounter potentially good, complex ideas that are further obscured by unnecessarily complex, and therefore poor, language. I can dig deconstructionism, but I have to take Chomsky’s position on Derrida – if all reasonable efforts by an intelligent entity to understand the text have failed, what is left may be brilliant, but it is useless.

Leave a Reply