Sunday, January 31, 2010

Anatomy of a Post with the Naming of Parts

The future Baron sent a link to the post below the fold. This is the most impressive piece of writing I’ve seen in a long while: sly, written ironically but with such a light hand that the reader can only admire his dexterity.

For those whose native tongue is not English, let me explain this a little before you read what I’ve snipped or go over to see all of it.

  • The title is a template.
  • The whole post is a template.
  • Each sentence is a template in itself. It carefully explains what the sentence would contain if it were a ‘real’ post.
  • The comments which follow the post keep a straight face and supply “templated” comments.

It may take a moment to ‘get’ the author’s intention. If it’s not clear immediately, read it again.

I found myself thinking, “Why couldn’t I have written that?” A small voice replied “Because you’re not that clever, my dear”.

Ah, well…may you enjoy this tour de force as much as I did:
- - - - - - - - -
This is the title of a typical incendiary blog post

This sentence contains a provocative statement that attracts the readers’ attention, but really only has very little to do with the topic of the blog post. This sentence claims to follow logically from the first sentence, though the connection is actually rather tenuous. This sentence claims that very few people are willing to admit the obvious inference of the last two sentences, with an implication that the reader is not one of those very few people. This sentence expresses the unwillingness of the writer to be silenced despite going against the popular wisdom. This sentence is a sort of drum roll, preparing the reader for the shocking truth to be contained in the next sentence.

This sentence contains the thesis of the blog post, a trite and obvious statement cast as a dazzling and controversial insight.

This sentence claims that there are many people who do not agree with the thesis of the blog post as expressed in the previous sentence. This sentence speculates as to the mental and ethical character of the people mentioned in the previous sentence…

[…]

Here’s the original post, in full. Be sure to read at least the first page of comments since his readers have created a perfect antiphonal response to his clever idea.

I sent the link to Mr.Clarke’s post to Instapundit. I hope he spreads it around.

*** UPDATE ***

The blogger who writes "K Comments" left a link to the televised version of this phenomenon:


Check out K's site for a comparison of the use of varieties of first person pronouns in a number of State of the Union speeches. Yes, Obama wins. Hands down.

Also check the comments on this post for some clever remarks made in the same spirit as Chris Clarke's original post.

18 comments:

Morris County Feedstore said...

This comment contains generous
congratulations to the owner of this blog for linking to such an excellent writ.

Zenster said...

[From the linked article]

This sentence contains the thesis of the blog post, a trite and obvious statement cast as a dazzling and controversial insight.

Generically known in forensic circles as a BGO*.

*Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious

Takuan Seiyo said...

Reminds me of the deconstruction of a template contract in Night at the Opera, here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-zR2pM_S5U

wayne said...

This comment expresses solemn appreciation of the post, and is signed with the commenter's full name, to ensure that all his friends know that he understood the post.
This is the commenter's full name:
Wayne Richards.

Rich V. said...

Thanks for finding this...it's probably the most brilliant blog post ever...

Rich Vail, Pikesville, MD
http://thevailspot.blogspot.com

docweasel said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
kcom said...

This comment is by a reader pointing out the television news version of this concept.

S said...

Very funny! Thanks for posting this. The comments on that are up to 20 pages now.

Tom Armstrong said...

I can't help but be reminded of Blues Traveler's "The Hook", some of the most clever and most cynical lyrics ever...

Music & Lyrics: John Popper

It doesn't matter what I say
So long as I sing with inflection
That makes you feel that I'll convey
Some inner truth of vast reflection
But I've said nothing so far
And I can keep it up for as long as it takes
And it don't matter who you are
If I'm doing my job then it's your resolve that breaks

Because the hook brings you back
I ain't tellin' you no lie
The hook brings you back
On that you can rely

There is something amiss
I am being insincere
In fact I don't mean any of this
Still my confession draws you near
To confuse the issue I refer
To familiar heroes from long ago
No matter how much Peter loved her
What made the Pan refuse to grow
.
.
.

Dymphna said...

@docweasel --

that is definitely an incendiary group of posts you linked. Cleverly done, too.

However, I had to delete your comment. We really DO get home schooled children as readers and we've promised their parents that GoV will be a PG-13 place.

I agree that Anglo Saxon references to body parts have a certain incendiary quality, at least at first. However, constant use of them coarsens the dialogue and numbs the soul. I prefer varying my intensifiers unpredictably.

See Diana West's The Death of the Grown Up for many examples of what I mean.

If getting traffic depends on semi-porn pictures combined with calling names and swearing, I'd rather not have a blog.

Which is not to say there isn't a big audience for what you provide. I don't doubt that you have loyal readers and I'd defend your right to post as you see fit.

However, your path is different than the one we've chosen. Rather than hit my opponents over the head with large rocks and leave the road strewn with their bodies, I much prefer pushing a stiletto thru the spot between their third and fourth ribs. The same number of bodies on the road, but so much tidier.

Besides, it's less effort than lifting heavy rocks.

Dymphna said...

Tom Armstrong:

Good example. It reminded me of a poem done by the blogger who wrote "The Template". Not the same idea, but his work is tightly woven and amusing:

A sweet little wistful nostalgic love poem...

Here are the first few lines:

I wish that I had never met
the one who set my heart aflame.
All the decisions I regret
I made after I learned her name,
excepting those I’d made before.
I used to long to hear her voice.
I never do that anymore,
which seems to be the wiser choice
...

It gets funnier and more frenetic in the middle and then winds down to a sigh of relief at the end.

To anyone unfortunate enough to ever have been involved with someone who has Borderline Personality Disorder will recognize it instantly in the poem. He really gives it away when he writes about walking on eggshells. That's the classic line for describing a relationship with someone with BPD.

He also has a good takedown of Garrison Keillor in another post. Calls Lake Woebegone a dystopia. The pieces of Keillor's essay that he describes are real disturbing. Creepy, in fact.

Dymphna said...

Takuan Seiyo:

You know we’re lazy readers. How about a live link?

Contract scene

@ Rich Vail…you didn’t know about our slothful ways, but your link is not likely to be scraped out and put into a new window. There’s an HTML template at the top of the comment box. Use that to make this:

The Vail Spot!

BTW, Pikesville isn’t too far from where the B and I met – Columbia, MD. I do like the Maryland accent. Distinctive, but hard to imitate.

I hear Pikesville has the largest Russian exile community in the US.

Takuan Seiyo said...

@Dymphna
Alas,don't have the skills and no time to acquire them. One of the reasons I won't have a blog either.
Teach me how to embed a link? (Tried the canned instuctions, didn't work for me)

M. Report said...

Excellent. Hopefully not too long:

http://www.gregroelofs.com/humor/
zelazny_agnostic.html

Chris Clarke said...

Thank you for the very kind words about my writing, Dymphna. It's much appreciated.

Robin Shadowes said...

The future George Noory is called Dexter Monterey. What is the future Baron called?

Matthew said...

Best example of this phenomena I've ever seen is the following: (It's well sung too... look it up on itunes.)

"The Title of the Song"
By Da Vinci's Notebook

Declaration of my feelings for you
Elaboration on those feelings
Description of how long these feelings have existed
Belief that no one else could feel the same as I
Reminiscence of the pleasant times we shared
And our relationship's perfection
Recounting of the steps that led to our love's dissolution
Mostly involving my unfaithfulness and lies
Penitent admission of wrongdoing
Discovery of the depth of my affection
Regret over the lateness of my epiphany

(Chorus)
Title of the song
Naive expression of love
Reluctance to accept that you are gone
Request to turn back time
And rectify my wrongs
Repetition of the title of the song

Enumeration of my various transgressive actions
Of insufficient motivation
Realization that these actions led to your departure
And my resultant lack of sleep and appetite
Renunciation of my past insensitive behavior
Promise of my reformation
Reassurance that you still are foremost in my thoughts now
Need for instructions how to gain your trust again
Request for reconciliation
Listing of the numerous tasks that I'd perform
Of physical and emotional compensation
CHORUS
Acknowledgment that I acted foolishly
Increasingly desperate pleas for your return
Sorrow for my infidelity
Vain hope that my sins are forgivable
Appeal for one more opportunity
Drop to my knees to elicit crowd response
Prayers to my chosen deity
Modulation and I hold a high note...
CHORUS

Rollory said...

FYI, it's not THAT original. The original example of this sort of thing can be read here:

http://consc.net/misc/moser.html
or here:
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1510/is_n68/ai_8897902/

I originally came across this in (I believe) one of Douglas Hofstadter's books. Metamagical Themas maybe?