October 19, 2001
Rather polemical response to David

Rather polemical response to David Foster Wallace's article on usage:

Then, Wallace's piece is badly written in a way that only an academic intellectual could manage: it is the most self-indulgent, narcissistic piece I can recall seeing in any mainstream publication. His manner is nauseatingly cute and condescending; he uses words imprecisely, offers bad analogies (whose point he then explains at length ? the sure sign of a bad analogy), says everything several times, and intrudes much purely personal and otherwise irrelevant matter. A particularly objectionable feature of his piece is his alternation between parading erudition (often irrelevant) and cosying up to us as just another Regular Guy. One minute he's overawing us with an epigraph in Latin (untranslated) from St Augustine, the next he's speaking of a statement's "biting Gove's whole argument in the ass" -- he's Mr All-Things-to-All-Men. This wanting to have it both ways results in a tone that is by turns ingratiating, patronizing, and facetious, and repellent in all its moods.

Posted by Bill Stilwell at October 19, 2001 12:00 AM
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