About That Self-Proclaimed Emperor

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Ann Althouse asks a question. It is one worth contemplating. "Can someone who puts up with Glenn Greenwald's prose explain something to me?" What Ann would like someone to explain: "How can people bear to read Glenn Greenwald?"

How can people bear to read Glenn Greenwald? He posts endless massive blocks of overlong, tedious, unedited sentences. Here are two typical Greenwaldian sentences. Two:

Yesteryday [sic], I wrote a post pointing out that the hordes of right-wing pundits condemning the Larry Craig outing have no standing to voice such complaints, since the very tactic that they were purporting to condemn (publicizing innuendo about private sexual behavior and exploiting sexual morality for political gain) is one which their political movement has used repeatedly, over and over, as one of its central weapons. I cited countless examples — including some from this week, along with others throughout the last 15 years — which demonstrate that the right-wing of the Republican Party centrally relies upon tactics indistinguishable from the Craig outing, and that unlike the Craig outing (engineered by a single, obscure individual), the entire right-wing political movement traffics continuously in those tactics.

That's atrocious writing. Edit, you idiot. Absurdly, his next line begins "As was painfully clear to anyone who can read…" Well, Glenn, it is painful to read your prose, and anyone who can read and has any taste at all will turn away in disgust at writing like that. (Really, why is his blog popular?) This post, which he titles "Introduction to Logical Reasoning 101," as if it's going to be to the point, is almost 2000 words long — twice as long as a newspaper op-ed.

Ah, the run-on sentence. Miss Montalto beat that one into our heads in seventh grade. (Thanks, Miss M.). But Ann has a point, as she always does. There are really two basic forms of bloggers, according to Glenn Reynolds. Thinkers and linkers is how he divides it. I would submit that there is a subdivision in the "Thinker" category: long and short form writers. Long form includes those who write essays and longish analyses. Short form bloggers (which category I think I fit into) go more for the short and pithy, or short and funny. But short is the operative term most of the time.

Then there is Glenn the Greenwald. He's linked me once, I think. I've read part of a couple things he has posted. I've commented on his sockpuppetry mishap. But I can't say as I have ever read anything he has written all the way through. Why?

Because he is in a class by himself. Long form or short form do not cover GG. He is into downright Glacial form. His posts run on to the point that one cannot possibly figure out what he said at the beginning of a post when they reach the end. One has trouble figuring out what the point of a run-on sentence was when one reaches the end of it.

And Ann Althouse merely points out the lack of clothing on the Emperor. In short form. One cannot wait for the next linkage from the Emperor.  

UPDATE: Dan Riehl: Conga!

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5 Responses to About That Self-Proclaimed Emperor

  1. lawhawk says:

    I have a slightly different tact on this. Anyone who blogs wouldn’t hurt to have an editor standing by to provide guidance, but that’s not what blogging is about. Blogging is about getting your thoughts down, and some people do a much better job of writing than others.

    The key to any writing is clarity, especially if you’re blogging in the short form essay style, but is just as important in the longer format. If you’ve got nothing but run-ons and endless text, it becomes a muddled mess.

    Glenn clearly doesn’t get the clarity issue, and his writing suffers horribly for it. That doesn’t address content, which is a separate subject entirely.

  2. Gaius says:

    You are correct in that observation. It is about clarity – content is another matter. The problem, of course, is that it is very difficult to get content across without clariity, regardless of form used.

  3. Carl says:

    I don’t know into which camp my blog falls, but I don’t write entries to please others; I write entries to please myself. It’s always been a creative outlet for myself ever since my wife set it up for me a couple of years ago as a birthday gift. At the time I didn’t think I would do much, however inspiration hits me from time to time and I just have to express myself. I may not posess the best grammar skills nor the best spelling skills, however I believe I do get my points across to the reader. I could ask my wife, an English and creative writing instructor at a local community college, to edit my missives for me, but that would take away from her time. Every once in a while, she’ll point out a glaring error that I will correct, but for the most part, I write in an informal, stream-of-conciousness style.

  4. Gaius says:

    And that is not a bad style, in and of itself. But clarity is the key. A number of “long form” bloggers are exceedingly clear. A number of “short form” bloggers are not as clear as they could be.

    One who is excessively wordy and excessively unclear is a chore.

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