Here’s a heat-induced cranky rant for you.
Having been weaned on nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century novelists, I am used to the paragraph form.
Kids today, not so much.
Viz. this Business Insider article that reads for all the world like a Millennial’s blog post.
Seriously, doesn’t the article have all the pacing of a children’s primer?
I am very familiar with the practice of variety or emphasis via a short phrase or sentence.
But writing everything that way?
It’s just annoying to see this, for someone like me who, if I were editing the damn thing, would turn the Business Insider article’s nearly one hundred “paragraphs” into twenty — and find the result a hell of a lot faster and easier to read. By the way, this — gah — “style” of writing is certainly not a function of our declining educational standards; that’s got nothing to do with it. For example, Chris Byrne’s a very bright guy, and he writes that way all the time. But he writes a blog, and I suspect his prose might look rather different in other contexts.
No, other causes come to mind. Ritalin? ADD? Twitter? An insidious every-thought-deserves-equal-emphasis lingustic socialism permeating our educational institutions? I suspect all these, and I don’t like the result one bit. Academic papers are the next firewall against this sort of thing, but I expect a breach there shortly, if if it hasn’t happened already.
Which will be a shame, really. Think about it: how is one to make a cogent argument, whether in academia or the public sphere about an idea; how is one to transmit the concept of the idea, the train of thought, to other humans; how, indeed, to think when the very mechanism to place individual thoughts (sentences) into logically-related groups (paragraphs) is disdained or discarded? The end of political discourse, that’s the goal:
Indeed, when this stylistic abomination spreads to legal briefs — which, whatever you may think of their readability, at their core provide a relentlessly logical structure with which to make an argument — well, I think I’ll declare intellectual Armageddon and go home.
For now I’ll just retreat to my dead-tree books and their lovely long-form paragraphs. Thus endeth the rant.
For a counterexample you should read before you die, the clearest writing I’ve ever seen is Feynman’s QED. Enjoy.
…Oh, and if anybody knows of an inexpensive paper or electronic reproduction or of Hooke’s Micrographica, lemme know. Saw one under glass at a museum, and from seeing that single page I know I must read more of it before I die. UPDATE: Ohhh yeahh.