A sonnet is built on a fourteen-line frame, of five-foot lines. Hence, the soneteer knows exactly where he is headed, although he may not know how to get there.
I finished reading The Elements of Style. The famed, much recommended Elements of Style. It’s alright. You need to bring your own race and class analysis goggles. An example.
Style rule #2. Write in a way that comes naturally.
Style rule #15. Do not use dialect unless your ear is good.
Style rule #20. Avoid foreign languages.
Where this leaves a person whose natural dialect doesn’t sound good to an English professor is a matter for the analysis goggles.
I would at least pair the book with this old, also somewhat famed, David Foster Wallace essay about English usage wars.
That essay is a delight but I feel sad when I read it. I feel sad reading anything by DFW since his suicide, but there’s more this time. He gets all the way to seeing that language has class signifiers and that Standard Written English is an elitist, white, academic dialect, and then he gives in. His best suggestion for surviving in this classist, white supremacist (capitalist colonial heteropatriarchal… might as well get it all in there) system is to learn to pass. That is soul crushing advice.
I’ve gotten this vibe from a lot of David Foster Wallace’s writing. There’s a part that is generous and open and loving and grounded (he calls it a Democratic Spirit in that essay), and then a part with… I want to say with no faith in the power of consciousness. I don’t know if that’s exactly it. But something. Resignation? I count him as one of my favourite authors, but usually when I read something by him I have to debrief afterward. I just looked at my little list of “books read in 2006” and saw that my note for Infinite Jest was “not sure yet.” (Since then I’ve given it as a gift at least three times.)
I am really wishing that Dark Daughta’s archives were still public so I could link to something about passing and anxiety, or about changing the power dynamics of a situation by speaking and acting with a grounded analysis. DD, since you went members only, I sure notice how much I was depending on your output and not pitching in, so thanks for that wake up. If I find alternate links I will come back and stick them in.