I’m just sitting down to read the Jesus Manifesto , and though i’m only in the introduction, I’ve got to be honest. I can’t stand the writing. The phrasing is too irregular, and the metaphors are haphazard… we seem to love to jump to arts allusions without any real concern for logic or flow. (Jesus as a tuning fork made no sense to me. Now, Jesus as the TONIC PITCH of the universe, that makes sense. What they in effect said was Jesus is the Level of the universe and then made a metaphor about how you can’t build anything without a level foundation, which is 1)not true, and 2) not really connected to a level. it’s really connected to concrete’s ability to both be shaped and to harden, and that’s an effect of coal ash or gypsum or something. Hopefully you get my point.) The authors of this book are well respected, and I’m sure the book will sell well, and they’ll talk at conferences for thought-leaders, and honestly, I wouldn’t be writing if this was the only example. There’s another famous author/blogger who’s work I really respect, but. I. can’t. stand. how. they. break. up. every. cli. max. in. to. sentences. I think it’s a trick Rob Bell started using at the end of his chapters. And while I’m ranting. PLEASE stop putting adjectives in front of every noun. The glorious sun does not need to radiantly shine on the frolickling daisys casually dancing in the meditative meadow. Blech. That’s not poetic. It’s insipid.
In my opinion, the artistry is in the argument and flow of ideas. NOT in the use of words. Descriptors are like decor in a room. Filling the walls with junk is not good decor. Tasteful use of mirrors, paintings, sconces, wallpaper, etc is what makes a room look good. All of it at once looks like a gift shop.
Oh, and by the way, that’s how you use a metaphor. Personify some values and make a story you can walk around in. Great metaphors wind up applying to the entire course of an argument. Good metaphors last a chapter or two. Crappy metaphors just disguise an awkward thought. (an awkward thought that might very well be earth-shatteringly true, but not framed well).
I think I need to go read some contemporary fiction and find out if it’s just my modernist intellectual upbringing that’s causing this dissonance. (or friction, or conflict… Oooh poetic synonyms…)
Go read some British Authors and learn how to write!
Thanks. You can have your soapbox back now.