Re: language: a plea for tolerance!

Michael J. Salvo (
Thu, 17 Oct 1996 15:04:10 -0600

At 11:36 PM 10/16/96 -0700, Tom Maddox wrote:
>Which is very much the sort of thing that I have in mind. I can multiply
>such citations at will, but let me instead ask if you can bring in
>"beautiful" language from theory to demonstrate the wrongness of my
>"butt-ugly" claim.


at the risk of rising to your bait, consider the following selection taken
from Lyotard's own forward to _The_Lyotard_Reader_ edited by Andrew
Benjamin. it contains what i think of as intellectual and textual beauty,
not Beauty but, situated effectiveness and aesthetic appeal that also
contains pertinent reference to our current discussion of style.


Lyotard writes:
>Sometimes you listen to yourself writing. That is not the same as hearing
yourself writing. When you hear, you merely hear something that has been
written. You can't do it. You go on. You don't pay much attention to
style. You let style take care of itself. You're ahead of the writing.
You merely point it in some direction. Set a course. The style will
follow. It can look after itself.

>You end up listening to yourself writing when you have no faith in your
style. You tighten it up, make it severe, classical, academic. You argue.
You address someone. Or, contrariwise, you take less care over it in the
sense that you try to make it look careless and casual. That form of
listening has a bad press amongst the censors, but I'd like to defend it.
It indicates that you are not sure of your direction, unsure of where you
are, or completely lost, that you're afraid, that you don't seem to have the
strength to think. And that is only right and proper. It is not just that
you feel unworthy and anxious, but that you show it by overwriting, by being
either too severe or too careless. It annoys the reader. But his/her anger
is a good thing. So are the worries of the one who is writing. He is not
sure of where he is either. Overwritten, unreadable. (Lyotard, _The
Lyotard Reader_, "Forward" vi-vii)