Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thumb-twiddling . . .  Can I just be unconscious until Thursday?  I'm waiting with baited breath to see my article in full public view!  In the meantime, I thought I would bring to your attention one thing that was very different about this article from the Roundtables that we have done so far.  When I submitted the "Truth" article, I made the following comments to my editors:

                      This turned out to be a VERY challenging article.  
                It's really eye-opening how different it is writing one of 
                our Roundtables alone--I enjoyed the struggle of trying
                to sound like more than one person, but gone was 
                "the liberty of knowing that I do not need to report every 
                detail of our content."  The amount of popularly-known 
                background material on this subject is massive, and I 
                am certain that I missed a few tidbits somewhere.
                It was hardest to figure out how to include all that
                content and still have any space to say anything about
                it, but I did it.

One criticism that we have received about our articles is that readers claim to be unable to figure out what is going on in them.  Hopefully, the alternating prose and narration passages will be more comprehensible to readers and also make our previous (as well as future) articles more understandable.  The only real difference between what I have written (seeming to be a prose essay in the odd-numbered passages and an unrelated narrative in the even-numbered passages) and our multi-authored articles is that the Roundtable articles are written in turns by four different writers who do not plan their content in advance, nor do we communicate about our content between passages outside of CCing every participant with each submission.  The resulting spontaneity can be a little disconcerting.

In normal academic articles, thoroughness is expected and even required by critics, professionals, and most readers.  In our roundtable articles, as I said in my interview, I enjoyed the liberty of knowing that I do not need to report every detail of our content.  I knew that I was co-writing an article with three other writers who--as far as I knew--intended to cover all of their material thoroughly, in some cases resulting in redundant repetition.  There is no harm in such repetition when the material is being presented from a different perspective.  [This effect has been called "polyphonic" in the study of Dostoevsky's novels.]  Such was the case in the "Whence Cometh Evil" article, when BabySnoopyFan and Draciron and Happy Hiram presented different research materials on the topic, some of which supported another writer's arguments, and in others left it feeling unrelated.  Meanwhile, knowing that the other three writers were writing academic essay-styled paragraphs in which they reported statistical detail and analytical observations, I persisted in writing out a scene which seemed to be saying nothing about Evil in any philosophical sense.  And my co-writers pretended to ignore my silly antics and continued to report their educated analyses of the topic.  It is different, and it can result in discordance, but it is spontaneous, and we do read each other's passages before writing our own passages in turns.  Take the time to reread the 'Whence Cometh Evil" article with me, chuckle at the shenanigans I have written, appreciate the fervent passion which BabySnoopyFan employs in the statistical report of abusive upbringing, grimace alongside Reva as she indignantly runs the topic through a griste mill, and delight in Happy Hiram's effort to upstage the Behemoth.


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