April 18th, 2006

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Political language.... recommended link...

Thanks to Andrew Tobias, I've now had a chance to read Jane Smiley's "Notes for Converts," at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jane-smiley/notes-for-converts_b_17662.html .

If you're not for George W. Bush, you'll enjoy it; if you are for George W. Bush, I assume that you'll be outraged by it. In either case, however, "Notes for Converts" is a sampler of rhetorical strategies for political language that will repay very careful analysis. Strongly recommended.
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The troublesome discussion of Troublesome...

I have been impressed by your comments in this discussion of Troublesome, and I thank you for them. It's not often that I have an opportunity to participate in a discussion that involves the Ozark Trilogy, and for me it's a very real luxury.

It seems to me that what we have here is the ancient controversy over what constitutes real work -- what constitutes really "doing something." There are religious orders whose members get out there and feed the hungry and tend the sick and visit the prisoners and provide shelter and all the rest of those solid and obvious acts of Real Work. There are religious orders -- the contemplative ones -- whose members spend their worktime actively holding in their minds and hearts the conviction that "all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well," and praising the Divine for making that so and letting it be so.

And there are faiths in which those who aren't able to spend their worktime in contemplation are nevertheless expected to help -- expected to actively participate in the "all manner of things shall be well" labor as often and as wholeheartedly as their lives will allow.

Many feel that the contemplative religious (and the freelance part-time contemplatives) aren't really doing anything useful, or anything with a practical application; that is probably the majority view in the U.S. mainstream culture. There is a minority view which proposes that not only is the activity of the contemplatives Real Work, and very difficult work, it is absolutely essential to the survival of the world.