Dan Goodman's prediction and politics journal.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Tuesday October 21, 2003. I got a bit of writing done -- and a lot of notes about writing. Which included categories of description:

Sensory description: http://www.enter.net/~torve/critics/Dimension/hd06-1.html Alexei Panshin, _Heinlein in Dimension_:

"A goodly portion of what makes style is bound up in the devices a writer chooses to make his work vivid. For instance, Poul Anderson says of a policy that he follows: "A useful device -- I think it was first enunciated by Flaubert -- is to invoke at least three senses in every scene, remembering that we have much more than five senses." In the opening scene of Anderson's Hugo-winning novelette, "No Truce With Kings," there are the following bits of sensual data: shouts, stamping boots, the thump of fists on tables, clashing cups, shadows, stirring banners, winking light, wind and rain outside, a loosened collar, singing, a chill feeling, a dark passageway, and clattering footsteps -- all of these and others in a matter of six hundred words or so. They tie you to what is happening. This is not a bad policy, but neither is it an easy one to follow, mainly because no matter what a writer may determine to set down, what he actually puts on paper is not completely controlled by his conscious mind. This policy is also, as Anderson says, not the only solution to the problem of making writing real and vivid.

"Theodore Sturgeon has a good sense of the nuances of speech and of shades of meaning. He draws delicate portraits. This, I think, is the key to his work: he draws word portraits. His writing, even to his similes and metaphors, is visually oriented. He has the artist's eye and it marks his work as something different than Vance's, or Bradbury's, or Anderson's:

"The idiot lived in a black and gray world, punctuated by the white lightning of hunger and the flickering of fear. His clothes were old and many-windowed. Here peeped a shinbone, sharp as a cold chisel, and there in the torn coat were ribs like the fingers of a fist. He was tall and flat. His eyes were calm and his face was dead."

Description by function: http://www.enter.net/~torve/critics/Dimension/hd06-1.html Alexei Panshin, _Heinlein in Dimension_:

"Since his continuing interest is in process -- how things both physical and social work -- Heinlein doesn't tell what things look like, he tells what they do. For an example, in Beyond This Horizon, Heinlein has one of his characters introduce a Colt .45 automatic. Physically, it is "novel," "odd," "uncouth," and has a stud on its side which when pressed lets a long, flat container slide out. That's it. That's all you get. If you had never seen a .45 automatic, you would be no better off for Heinlein's description of it. You might mistake it for a gum machine (novel, odd, uncouth; has a stud on its side which when pressed lets a long, flat container -- your gum -- slide out). On the other hand, in dialogue Heinlein lets us know more about it and he demonstrates how it works very nicely. You still don't know what the damned thing looks like, but you know very well what it does."

When I first read that, I was sure Heinlein had indeed given a sensory description. I checked, and Panshin was right.

Description by pattern: The two writers who come first to my mind are William Blake and Ayn Rand. I'll need to do a fair amount of thinking before I can explain this.

(guns> (politics> Letter of comment:

Good morning Dan,

At your URL
you wrote
Yesterday, Joel Rosenberg said on the Natter list that the Wedge Co-op had taken down their "No guns here" sign. They had. I asked about it.

Unfortunately, no, they haven't.


Go in Faith
Rev. J. Jesmer, DM
Universal Ministries
July 31st, 2003 A.D.

They did. Then they put it back up. As nearly as I can work out from what I've been told:
The managers originally put up the sign because they interpreted the new gun law as requiring they do so if they wanted to stop any customer or intruder from being obnoxious with a handgun. They were persuaded that it wasn't necessary for that purpose, so they took it down.

They put it up again to make a statement.

I'm cynical enough to consider this proof that the now-current gun law is fulfilling the purpose which many Republican legislators had in mind -- offending urban liberals and leftists.

(/guns> (/politics>
The Wedge co-op's annual meeting is worth attending for the food; a fine array of organically correct eats and drinks.

There were several matters the meeting would have voted on, if there'd been a quorum. There wasn't a high enough percentage of the 10,000 members present, so they were passed by consent. (Someone mentioned that many co-ops used to have 15 as a quorum, no matter how large their membership became. The Wedge changed their bylaws a while ago, to avoid having a small, determined group take over. After that did happen to a co-op in Arizona, a bunch of other co-ops made similar changes.)

The ballot count was announced. There weren't enough ballots to meet _that_ quorum. Which under the bylaws meant that the two people who'd been elected to two-year terms would only serve for one year.

Some discussion of how more members might be induced to vote. I had an idea, but I suppressed it: next year, add to the ballot the question of whether or not the Wedge should state support of the President and his policies.

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