1. “If people cannot write well, they cannot think well, and if they cannot think well, others will do their thinking for them.”
2. “- Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
– Never use a long word where a short one will do.
– If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
– Never use the passive where you can use the active.
– Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
– Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.”
3. “When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.”
4. “For after all, what is there behind, except money? Money for the right kind of education, money for influential friends, money for leisure and peace of mind, money for trips to Italy. Money writes books, money sells them. Give me not righteousness, O lord, give me money, only money.”
5. “In an age like our own, when the artist is an altogether exceptional person, he must be allowed a certain amount of irresponsibility, just as a pregnant woman is. Still, no one would say that a pregnant woman should be allowed to commit murder, nor would anyone make such a claim for the artist, however gifted. If Shakespeare returned to the earth to-morrow, and if it were found that his favourite recreation was raping little girls in railway carriages, we should not tell him to go ahead with it on the ground that he might write another King Lear. And, after all, the worst crimes are not always the punishable ones. By encouraging necrophilic reveries one probably does quite as much harm as by, say, picking pockets at the races. One ought to be able to hold in one’s head simultaneously the two facts that Dali is a good draughtsman and a disgusting human being. The one does not invalidate or, in a sense, affect the other. The first thing that we demand of a wall is that it shall stand up. If it stands up, it is a good wall, and the question of what purpose it serves is separable from that. And yet even the best wall in the world deserves to be pulled down if it surrounds a concentration camp. In the same way it should be possible to say, “This is a good book or a good picture, and Read the rest of this entry
Martin Luther King wanted to see his nation rise up and “live out the true meaning of its creed.” He wanted the descendants of slaves and slave owners to sit down as equals ending “the heat of oppression”, transforming it into an “oasis of freedom and justice.” He wanted little black boys and black girls to hold hands with little white boys and white girls. He didn’t want to force them or anything, he just wanted to let them do it, if they wanted to. He also wanted some Biblish thing.
People listened to his speech and were inspired by it. The “I have a dream speech” remains inspiring to this day. Martin Luther King had a dream, and he wasn’t afraid to say it. In fact, he said it eight times, always at the beginning of his sentences. Returning to the same sentence, he empowered it, lending it a hammering effect, an involving rhythm, making it more likely to be remembered. It worked.
This is called an anaphora, Farnsworth says: “it occurs when the speaker repeats the same words at the start of successive sentences or clauses.” They can be used differently for several purposes. I’ll enunciate and give the best examples:
1. Repetition of the subject with changes in the verb: the auxiliary verb is repeated while the main verb changes (produces a sense of inexorability).
“But the ordeal sharp or long, or both, we shall seek no terms, we shall tolerate no parley: we may show mercy – we shall ask for none.” Churchill, London Radio broadcast (1940)
“He’s too delightful. If he’ll only not spoil it! But they always will; they always do; they always have.” James, The Ambassadors (1903)
2. Repetition of the subject with different complements, as applying more than one modifier to the same person or thing.
“I shall lay this siege in form, Elvira; I am angry; I am indignant; I am truculently inclined; but I thank my Maker I have still a sense of fun.” (to highlight the contrast between negation and affirmation) Stevenson, New Arabian Nights (1882)
“I was in mortal terror of the young man who wanted my heart and Read the rest of this entry
I used to try to shake off my mother whenever she tried to make me look more presentable. She’d try to clean a smudge of dirt of my freckled nose and I’d push her away yelling “Leave me alone, Hermione!” She’d try to button my shirt properly and I’d push her away, “I’ve missed a case, but I like it this way.” And I’d walk out the door with one collar near my ear and the other close to my chest. My mother no longer cares how messy I look, or simply learned to look as if she doesn’t care. Ironically to me, inevitably to her, now I’m the one who asks her for help to straighten out a sweater and make sure my shirt peaks out evenly underneath it.
“… the best way of killing a rose is to force it open when it is still only the promise of a bud.”
That was an excerpt of José Saramago’s The Cave. Saramago is a Portuguese writer and Nobel Laureate, who was born in Azinhaga, Iberian Peninsula, in 1922. I learned about his writing in high-school. One of his books was part of the curriculum so, naturally, due to my very cool rebellious teen spirit, I proceeded to ignore it, which was my mo. with any book I HAD to read. A few months after finishing high-school, after I could do nothing to change my paltry grades, I decided to read it. He slowly climbed up the ladder of my favourite writers to the top. It was a small ladder, Enid Blyton was there, as was J.K. Rowling and a Maxim Magazine erotica writer, whose writing helped me a lot in the pre-adsl days. It was still, by no means, a small accomplishment.
Saramago deals with daunting subjects. His most recognized work is Blindness. It paints a vivid image of violence, chaos, and Read the rest of this entry
1. “I haven’t any right to criticize books, and I don’t do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read Pride and Prejudice I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”
2. “A successful book is not made of what is in it, but what is left out of it.”
3. “One should never use exclamation points in writing. It is like laughing at your own joke.”
4. “The test of any good fiction is that you should care something for the characters; the good to succeed, the bad to fail. The trouble with most fiction is that you want them all to land in hell together, as quickly as possible.”
5. “To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement. To condense the diffused light of a page of thought into the luminous flash of a single sentence, is worthy to rank as a prize composition just by itself…Anybody can have ideas–the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph.” Read the rest of this entry
“God help us if blog writers get their hands on this book. It’s a lot more fun than it may appear. Farnsworth identifies types of rhetorical strategies and illustrates each one with a wealth of quotations which make the book wonderfully readable. Not dry as dust but lively and inspiring.”
Above is the reason a broke, unemployed part-time blogger spent 18$ (plus taxes, plus customs, plus delivery).
Roger Ebert has been a big influence on me for a long time. His word means a lot to me. His reviews made me watch countless movies I wouldn’t have watched otherwise, his journal made me rethink some of my ideas on subjects like “are videogames art”, “how the media should cover mass-murders”, and improve my knowledge and even give me arguments to support my biased opinions. His suggestion that a single book could improve my blogging chances success, was enough to dig up my deepest hat and sit in the streets to raise my balance to those 18 dollars, plus taxes, plus customs, plus delivery.
This happened a year ago or so. When the book arrived a few weeks later, I had already forgotten that I ordered it and my blog had gathered more dust than the desk I was supposed to do all that writing, that would get me all that success.
A few months ago I restarted where I’d left off: the beginning. The fact that I’m no longer a student had something to do with it. I have yet to pay my tuition and pick up that sheet of paper, proof I’m now a qualified contributor to society’s work market. My Peter Pan complex has delayed the inevitable. I guess sneaking around at night into little girls’ bedrooms sprinkling fairy dust around me, leaves no time to pick up diplomas.
Despite delaying the inevitable, I knew that I now have no real goal, I’m done with school for now, and I doubt I’ll be able to find a job and… I do have a blog. So I’ve been working on it. For the first time, I managed to stay mildly consistent for a few months. Three or more posts a week, creating images for them, even GIF’s (yes, those are my tiny hands), I’ve even gotten a few Facebook followers. So yeah, things are getting pretty serious. Time to shake off the dust of Farnsworth’s Classic Rhetoric, have an asthma attack, and get serious about writing.
“EVERYONE SPEAKS and writes in patterns. Usually the patterns arise from unconscious custom; they are models we internalize from the speech around us without thinking much about it. But it also is possible to study the patterns deliberately and Read the rest of this entry
I wear glasses and say words like “derogatory”. I watched Arrested Development. So, yeah, I’m pretty smart. I’m not an expert in literature, but I’ve read a few of the Slavics, some Dickens, all of Bukowski’s novels and most of Vonnegut’s. Of my countrymen, I’ve read almost everything by Saramago and Eça; I read one or two other authors, but I don’t bother with the rest. But when people ask me which is my favorite book, I’ll always proudly reply: Harry Potter. It doesn’t matter which big words I use or the way I arrange my glasses when I reply, they’ll always be, in this order, surprised and condescending. “Don’t give me that derogatory look just yet”, I tell them “let me explain”.
There’s a very simple reason for Harry Potter remaining in the top of my favourite books: I read it as a child. I grew up with it. I was lucky to be the same age as Hermione, Harry and Ron. I went through the same things they did, at the same time. I was accepted in a very exclusive school, top 10 in the country at the time. My sister went there before me, but I still felt like a mudblood (sorry for the language). Before the school year I had to buy my supplies. Like a Weasley, everything I could re-use from my older siblings I did. Fortunately, my parents had TV’s, so I had only a 5 year older sister, smaller than me; I got some books, pens, notebooks, rulers, erasers, half of a set-square, and one particularly large summer dress. What I couldn’t get second hand, I had to buy at the lowest price, so I had to scourge Diagon Alley for the best bargains. I was either 10 or 11, I thought I was big and brave, but like Harry I was also scared when Olivander helped me choose my wand. I mean, when he helped me getting chosen by my wand. I also bought my cauldron, 1 set of crystal phials, gym clothes, 2 gridded notebooks, 1 telescope, 1 drawing pad, 15 different pencils, 1 set of brass scales and the required books I hadn’t inherited: Portuguese, English, History, Sciences, Defense Against The Dark Arts and Geography. I also had to buy new clothes. I wanted a pair of loose jeans, with a cartoon on the back and metal chains, which connected from the beginning of the pocket to the end, and hung almost to the knees. I got the cheap imitation and which still made me happy.
You might have noticed I have some difficulty separating reality from fantasy. That’s the muggle in you talking. Tell him to quiet down for the next few hundred words. Read the rest of this entry
José Maria de Eça de Queiroz or Eça de Queirós; November 25, 1845 – August 16, 1900) is generally considered to be the greatest Portuguese writer in the realist style.Zola considered him to be far greater thanFlaubert. The London Observer critics rank him with Dickens, Balzac and Tolstoy.
Henry Charles Bukowski (born Heinrich Karl Bukowski; August 16, 1920 – March 9, 1994) was a German-born American poet, novelist and short story writer. His writing was influenced by the social, cultural and economic ambience of his home city of Los Angeles.It is marked by an emphasis on the ordinary lives of poor Americans, the act of writing, alcohol, relationships with women and the drudgery of work.
All of these quotes were chosen from Sidney Lumet’s Making Movies. Additionally, the comments in front of some of the quotes were added due to the collaboration of Christopher Murrie, A.C.E.
1. Blue or red may mean totally different things to you and me. But as long as my interpretation of a colour is consistent, eventually you’ll become aware (subconsciously, I hope) of how I’m using that colour, and what I’m using it for.
2. Don’t let the difficulty of actually achieving a shot make you think that the shot is good. (This times a million. The audience doesn’t care how hard/cool it was to get that shot. If it isn’t right, it isn’t right. As an editor, this one gets me pretty frustrated. Don’t be precious.)
3. There are no small decisions in movie-making. Nowhere does this apply more than in editing.
4. Almost every picture is improved by a good musical score. To start with, music is a quick way to reach people emotionally. (True. But be careful when using temps. Make your scenes play without music first. Then, score enhances what is already great. It is too easy to lean on music to make a scene play when it otherwise wouldn’t. Hell, I like to cut with no sound at all sometimes just to make every idea play as best I can purely on the basis of the visuals.)
5. Everything becomes creative if the person doing the job is. Read the rest of this entry
As I add misleading tags to this post, which will hopefully bring mislead people over among my fellow googlers, who entered (porn+naked) I realize that among my “most used tags” Bukowski pops up.
This man made me change a lot about myself. My writing: which is still bad, but more concise. My appreciation for prose and poetry. Especially poetry, which through him I understood it needn’t be dull. It needn’t be about the weather and how that reflected on the human condition. It could be about the human condition and how that reflected on the human condition. He made me see how drinking could be cool in a non-glamorous way, and how uncool a beershit is, the next day. He taught me about style, which made me give-up on the idea of hipster goggles. Bukowski had an intense desire to please people, which he tried hard to hide beneath layers of viciousness and chauvinism, but he never changed his art because of it; he showed me it’s ok to be an asshole. He also showed me I didn’t have to try so hard, because whatever I had coming would come (HERE). One of the few advice I ignored. He had the talent to be great, but a glimpse of modesty pointed me to the other direction.
He was hard on aspiring creators, because he told the truth. And now, as I try to convince myself that if I just remove my flat-screen, my ps3 and my sound-system from my room I’ll finally work hard, he is hard on me again:
Andre Bazin was a French film critic of the 50’s. One of his books (two volumes) is described as quintessential for film students, What is Cinema?, which made for the perfect bragabook (book you read to brag about). Your French accent and quirky moustache could only get him so far, it was his writing which established him as THE film critic to read. It has endured for 50 or 60 years, and will continue to endure, an extraordinary feat considering that cinema was only beginning to get credibility as an art, which makes him a pioneer.
Bazin was an admirer of Jean Renoir and Orson Welles. He wrote a book about each of them, but my library had only the latest – which was actually surprising considered its dimensions and the general lack of demand for fifties French film criticism on a director with only one recognizable work in my country.
I devoured the book in one day. It’s short and a particularly boring passage of Karamazov Brotherscombined with a particularly boring afternoon at the beach, made reading it in one sitting the most sensible course of action. It had pictures, too.
I learned quite a few things I didn’t know about the man and his upbringing, his difficulties to get a movie done and his personality. He said something worth quoting, that I couldn’t find on the web:
“Only the optimists are incapable of understanding what it means to love an ideal.”
(Unprecedented words from an interview in the Ritz, 27th of July of 1958)