Seriously Though

I am not as cognizant of my habits of syntax as I would like to be. Not being in an academic setting does this to me, I fear. Being entrenched in an office environment in which language is strictly point A to point B - not a source of play, but a means for the succinct (one hopes) transmission of useful information.

I notice myself using the same several words or phrases over and over in poems, and writing in general - I think we all have this and struggle with it/embrace it to varying degrees. Repetition is comfort, clean edges, but often lazy. We don't want to have to process new things, so we copy/paste copy/paste.

When he has to read previous environmentals, M. often will email me particularly outrageous snippets of mismatched grammar and obtuse paragraph-long sentences. I call these the result of "template zombies" - people who make their living "writing" reports, but put as little active thought as possible into what it is they're actually saying, holisitically. Sort of blows the whole "point A to point B" thing, huh. They take their notes and (often literally) plug them into a template document. In most cases, this works, which is why people do it. How many of us had to do fill-in-the-blanks ad nauseum in grade school, after all? However, one must still be vigilant that what one is saying is actually, you know, making sense, not simply the answer to the blank. Oh, but standardized testing makes us myopic little buggers, doesn't it?!

In spite of the vastly different goals involved in our various uses of language, discursiveness, nonsense, repetition seem almost universally to be a no-no. Needless repetition - and what, I ask, constitutes "needless"? twice? three times? not talking to the hard of hearing? - strikes us as silly, because supposedly it wastes energy we could be taking or stocking up to communicate something new.

Here I might say something blasting narrative and blah blah lyric rules, fuck efficiency, it is just another tool of the oppressive patriarchy!!11! Like superfluous domestic devices shilled in infomercial form (I LOVE the Slap Chop guy, by the way, but that's another entry entirely), we must navigate and avoid avoid avoid redundancy!

But what if redundancy accomplishes a goal of its own? Drawing attention for example, creating mood, music, resonance, voice, inciting us to remember Vince, the ShamWow Slap Chop guy (ok, maybe not a great example)? These habits of syntax are important in that they create a narrative of their own - the narrative of the poet's writerly persona.

Often, often we are unaware of it, the repetition, we are not aware of what we're really trying to do with our writing. I am using the royal we here.



EDIT: GOD, he looks a little like Beavis, doesn't he?


Comments

J said…
In my google search to find out why everyone is talking about Mr. Fettucini Linguini Bikini Martini, I cam across your blog.... One word, Bravo! I am not one for gossips, blogs and I do not own a slap chop, but I am elated to have stumbled upon your rant. Thanks

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