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Atlas Shrugged Movie - June Production


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#41 Ninth Doctor

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Posted 30 May 2010 - 03:35 PM

This whole comedy of errors needs the talents of another Douglas Adams to be chronicled.

Errors? What errors? Theyíre moving ahead without an A-list cast, youíre convinced thatís an error? After investing 17 years and millions of dollars youíre certain Aglialoro has blown it, based on some trade paper articles? I donít know if the glass is full, empty, or somewhere in between, and I donít claim to. You brought up H2G2, well you sound like Marvin moaning about pain in your diodes, only now itís down both sides.
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#42 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 30 May 2010 - 03:59 PM

I didn't read this debate all that closely, so if this has already been mentioned, sorry.

Those interested in acting techniques might be interested to know that some of Hollywood's greatest actors and actresses used to tape pieces of paper with their lines on them (crib notes) to bits of the scenery like tables, chairs, plants, etc, on the side that would not show to the camera when they were being filmed. They still do. It's one of those dirty little secrets nobody likes to talk about, but no actor I ever heard of who does it is ashamed of it. Since films are expensive to shoot, this is a precaution against flubbed lines.

Also, there are three basic acting schools (for adults in major Hollywood films) from what I have been able to discern--and actors from all three have used crib notes:

1. Method (Stanislavski and variations), where the actor draws on personal emotional experiences from his life and injects them into the character--good examples are Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro.
2. Classical (for lack of a better word), where the actor makes a rational analysis of the character and constructs it from his or her repertoire of techniques--good examples are Sir Lawrence Olivier and Gene Hackman.
3. Do it as you go along (for a real lack of a better word), where the actor flies by the seat of his or her pants and hates rehearsing. Good examples are Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley.

I didn't mention any women, but there are plenty of examples of them, too.

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#43 Rich Engle

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Posted 30 May 2010 - 04:18 PM

I agree that Pigero would make a good Toohey, but why would Toohey be cast for a film of Atlas Shrugged?


I just wanted to put it in there so badly I went ahead.

Unfortunately, one thing we know for sure is that Dennis Hopper is out of the running for anything.

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#44 Jeff Riggenbach

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Posted 30 May 2010 - 04:54 PM

Subject: Logically-Challenged Jeff

> has never read the novel on which the films were based

How does a conversation from the nineties prove that someone has not read the books since? Never one to let logic get in the way of trying to ridicule, Jeff did this on another thread, in which he reported a conversation about a course I was preparing to teach in which he claimed that I was unprepared because I didn't know what a sonnet's exact rhyme scheme was or the difference between the meter of the Italian and the English form. Just like in the Lord Of the Rings case, logically-challenged Jeff ignores the possibility that I was prepared by the time I taught the course. That would get in the way of ridicule.

> [thus] has no idea what sort of character it is that Mortenson was trying to play

Another inconvenient bit of logic for Jeff is that a movie is supposed to be self-contained. You don't have to have read a book (and most viewers won't) to say you didn't understand how the movie presented the story or the acting had problems. ...And, oh by the way, another awkward fact: the films were not based on a novel, LOTR, as Jeff claims, but on a series of novels.

> he knows that the claims of its partisans that it [LOTR] is one of the major works of imaginative literature in English in the 20th Century are utterly without merit.

Nor did he ever claim it. Another imaginative reconstruction by Jeff (with, of course, no forgetting of minor details) of a private conversation from a decade or more ago.


Most of this runs afoul of various basic rules of what might be called (I suppose) "the logic of artistic criticism." Perhaps I'll come back to this later. For now, though, this one howler was simply too precious to hold for later:

"And, oh by the way, another awkward fact: the films were not based on a novel, LOTR, as Jeff claims, but on a series of novels."

LOTR is a single novel in three parts, just as Atlas Shrugged is a single novel in three parts - not "a series of novels" entitled Non-Contradiction, Either-Or, and A Is A. LOTR was originally submitted to its publishers as a single, long manuscript, and was meant to be published in one long volume. It ended up being printed in three volumes for purely technical and financial reasons having to do with paper supplies and publisher's estimates of the relative salability of different size volumes at different retail prices.

Phil would know this if, in fact, he had read LOTR in the past ten years or learned the slightest thing about it. Let the reader judge whether he seems to have done so.

JR

#45 Philip Coates

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Posted 30 May 2010 - 06:07 PM

> Perhaps I'll come back to this later.

Yeah, right! We'll see...in my experience, too often when I've backed somebody into a logical corner, they never admit any of my points because it makes 'em look weak. Instead they employ the clever debater's trick which I guess I'd call the "side shuffle":

Ignore all the major flaws pointed out -substantively- in your arguments and instead deflect: Comment -only- on the most trivial side issue.

...In this case the semantics of whether the three books are three novels or three "volumes" in one novel...I'm truly sorry I brought it up, since it gave him a rabbit hole, allowed him to pretend to answer my two quite detailed and systematic posts.

(Usually when Jeff feels he can answer a cogent criticism he's not shy about doing so, instead of saying 'maybe'.)

Edited by Philip Coates, 30 May 2010 - 06:25 PM.


#46 Jeff Riggenbach

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Posted 31 May 2010 - 06:56 PM

. . . a movie is supposed to be self-contained. You don't have to have read a book (and most viewers won't) to say you didn't understand how the movie presented the story or the acting had problems.


"A movie is supposed to be self-contained." Oh? "Supposed"? Supposed by whom and for what? A movie is what it is. If it is a complete original, it should be self-contained. If it is an adaptation of a play or a novel, and the screenwriter[s] chose to deviate significantly from the original, then it should be self-contained. If it is an adaptation in which the screenwriter[s] (as is the case with LOTR) chose to stick close to the original source and merely bring the same characters to life on screen, then one way of judging the effectiveness of a particular actor's performance is to consult the original novel or play or short story for information about what sort of character that actor is attempting to portray or "bring to life." In any case, it is impossible to evaluate an actor's performance without reference to a standard of some sort - either the screenplay or (under the conditions indicated above) the original source of the character. In the absence of consulting with these sources, one cannot offer anything that could properly be called an "evaluation" of the actor's performance. One can offer only a report about how much or how little one liked that performance - the aesthetic equivalent, you might say, of grunting (whether in approval or disapproval).

"Saying you didn't understand how the movie presented the story" is, again, not an act of criticism at all; it's merely a report on how one viewer understood or failed to understand what s/he saw.

JR

#47 Jeff Riggenbach

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Posted 31 May 2010 - 07:23 PM

> Subject: Logically-Challenged Jeff, Part II

It seems that in addition to thinking that one can't criticize a movie unless he has read the book it is based on . . .


See my previous post. I never said what Phil attributes to me; if he can't see this, it only proves the defectiveness of his reading comprehension - a fine quality for a teacher to have.

. . . Jeff seems to think you can't criticize bias in a newspaper unless you have worked on one.


Nor did I ever say this. What I said is that if one knows nothing about how newspapers are actually operated, one is likely to imagine all sorts of things that might go one there that might, if they did go on there, account for the end results one sees in the paper - and all of it could be nothing but your own (or Phil's) ignorant fantasy.

Let's start by removing the illogical, slanted language, first. What Jeff is reporting in neutral, objective language is this: "Phil criticized a New York Times article, particularly the bias in its headline and photo." [Aside: Writing tip for the writing expert: You don't have to overload your language with parody-type words like 'vigorously', 'denouncing' or negative evaluations like 'abuse' or 'tendentiously'. It's more effective if you can bend over backwards to present the view neutrally and still be able then to refute it. Have you learned anything from The Elements of Style? :rolleyes: ]


The principal thing I learned from The Elements of Style is how absurdly overrated it is. It contains some good, commonsensical advice about writing, but it proceeds on the assumption that there is only one legitimate or effective way to write and that way is the way E.B. White wrote. I'm sorry; I don't buy into this. I think White was a pretty good writer, but I certainly wouldn't like the result if he had had his way and everyone now wrote like E.B. White. If you don't like the way I write, Phil, I encourage you to read somebody else.

Unlike Jeffaroni, I don't have total recall for the exact wording of conversations a decade or more ago . . . .


I'm deeply sorry that my memory is so much better than yours, Phil. I can't tell you how much pain that fact causes me.

I can't resist adding that not only can't Omniscient Jeff know this for a fact [that Phil has never been employed by a newspaper as a writer or editor], but he's worded this to exclude any relevance of my experience (which he may not know, but he is claiming omniscience about my experience) as the publisher of my own publication, as a staff member of a humor magazine, as a reporter for a libertarian publication, and as the columns editor of the Atlasphere).


None of this would teach you anything at all about how editorial decisions and photographic decisions are made on large daily newspapers, which was the issue at hand.

It's known to the headline writers and to the photo selectors or anyone who wants to keep his job in a tight economy or get ahead career-wise what the editorial position of the NYT is. They know that a picture of a dazed, sleepy, befuddled President Bush or a smiling, confident candidate Obama or a scowling, angry candidate McCain would be well-received by the executive editor and the publisher. But not a scowling, angry Teddy Kennedy or the like.


If you knew those people and asked them their thinking, they'd tell you the NYT has no editorial bias. And they don't make their decisions on the basis of their mostly non-existent political beliefs. If you had ever worked with the kind of people I'm talking about, the people who work on large daily newspapers, you'd know this.

... and newspaper 'expert' Jeff (did he work for one? if so, let's bow down). . .


Yes, I worked for two of them. How many did you work for?

JR

#48 Jeff Riggenbach

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Posted 31 May 2010 - 07:31 PM

Usually when Jeff feels he can answer a cogent criticism he's not shy about doing so, instead of saying 'maybe'.


Did I miss some cogent criticism? I never saw any. What post was it in? Who wrote it?

Alas, sometimes, I have to put off answering a tissue of absurdities because it takes time to do so and I often have relatively little time available, since I actually work for a living instead of spending all my time looking in the mirror, preening, and patting myself on the back in smug self-satisfaction because my early decision to read Ayn Rand has left me an expert on everything and I've never had any need to acquire any further knowledge.

JR

#49 Philip Coates

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Posted 31 May 2010 - 09:19 PM

You Can't Judge a Movie or a Performance without Outside Reading or Homework?...Take That, Mr. Average Moviegoer!

Phil: a movie is supposed to be self-contained
Jeff: one way of judging the effectiveness of a particular actor's performance is to consult the original [source] or [screenplay]...[Without doing this] one cannot [evaluate] the actor's performance

Jeff's wording is a bit tangled. I tried to get to the essential source of disagreement. Jeff apparently misunderstands the common sense point I was making:

1. There are many more viewers of a major Hollywood movie than there are readers of the book it is based on...and certainly they won't have read the screenplay.
2. Since they will not refer to the book, the movie has to stand alone as a work of art and the actors' performances have to stand alone.
3. The audience must be able to appreciate the performances and the story as presented in the movie. That's what I mean by stand alone or self-contained. (And I think that phrase was taken out of context; it's pretty clear, I think, in my original post in which I was criticizing the woodenness of Viggo Mortensen in the movie and Jeff claimed you had to see the movie in the context of the book.)
4. It's valid to discuss whether a movie was true to the book but even if the movie departs from the book, one can evaluate its success (and that of its actors) as separable phenomena.

Edited by Philip Coates, 31 May 2010 - 09:30 PM.


#50 Philip Coates

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Posted 31 May 2010 - 09:21 PM

1. Bias in the Liberal Press?? News Flash: Jeff, Based on his Allegedly Vast Experience Says No Way! Can't Possibly Be!!

> If you knew those people and asked them their thinking, they'd tell you the NYT has no editorial bias

So what? Do you believe everything you're told?

> If you had ever worked with the kind of people I'm talking about, the people who work on large daily newspapers...I worked for two of them.

I don't know why you are not getting a reasonably simple point. Here it is again:

Working for newspapers A and B which were not biased does not enable you to say that newspaper C is not biased or that all 'large, daily' newspapers are unbiased. Working with certain types of people that newspaper A finds congenial does not mean you can talk about -all- the people who work for different newspapers. I worked with "computer people" and managers at Hewlett-Packard. I wouldn't be naive enough to infer from that what "computer people" and managers were like in the corporate culture of IBM in every respect. If you were on the staff of better or less biased newspapers, that would not enable you to infer what the corporate culture was like at another newspaper, any more than working at one company enables you to know the rules, the pressures, the approaches at another. And no, having worked at two newspapers, doing what and for how long?, does -not- make you an expert on the bias or lack of it everywhere.

Almost every Objectivist or libertarian knows the New York Times is biased. Amazing to find someone who is so naive as not to know this. Unbelievable! (I even gave you some illustrative concrete examples to jog your memory, which you ignored: Never let concrete cases stand in the way, I guess.)

2. Don't Give Me No Stinkin' Rules

> The Elements of Style is..absurdly overrated...
> it proceeds on the assumption that there is only one legitimate or effective way to write and that way is the way E.B. White wrote.

No it doesn't. Have you actually understood the book?

More importantly, I wasn't talking about optional personal style. I was giving you basic advice from a reader: lose the verboseness and (unnecessary) slanting; let your argument stand on its own merits.

> If you don't like the way I write, Phil, I encourage you to read somebody else.

Only a man with hubris thinks his writing is perfect and can't possibly benefit from any criticism; the wise man learns even from his adversaries.

> looking in the mirror, preening, and patting myself on the back in smug self-satisfaction because my early decision to read Ayn Rand has left me an expert on everything and I've never had any need to acquire any further knowledge.

This may not be in the Elements of Style but it could be:

--Don't dull the force and clarity of your arguments with bluster and insult.
--Don't exaggerate because you are eager to make a put-down.

,,,,,,,,
We're done here.-->

As much as is possible, I'm pretty much going to ignore the insulting asshole after that last looking in the mirror comment.

Edited by Philip Coates, 31 May 2010 - 09:57 PM.


#51 Jeff Riggenbach

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Posted 31 May 2010 - 10:05 PM

Jeff apparently misunderstands the common sense point I was making:


I understood your stupid point quite clearly, Phil. But you can't see that because you recognize no distinction between evaluating or judging a performance by an actor and grunting one's approval or disapproval of that performance. To you, as to your beloved "Mr. Average Moviegoer," there is no distinction between these two things.

1. There are many more viewers of a major Hollywood movie than there are readers of the book it is based on...and certainly they won't have read the screenplay.
2. Since they will not refer to the book, the movie has to stand alone as a work of art and the actors' performances have to stand alone.


It has to do no such thing. These viewers you're so concerned about know and care nothing about art. They want to find out one thing and one thing only about any movie - does it entertain them? They grunt their approval or disapproval. End of story.

3. The audience must be able to appreciate the performances and the story as presented in the movie. That's what I mean by stand alone or self-contained. (And I think that phrase was taken out of context; it's pretty clear, I think, in my original post in which I was criticizing the woodenness of Viggo Mortensen in the movie and Jeff claimed you had to see the movie in the context of the book.)
4. It's valid to discuss whether a movie was true to the book but even if the movie departs from the book, one can evaluate its success (and that of its actors) as separable phenomena.


One can "evaluate" the actors' performances only if one knows either (1) the words they were given to speak or (2) the general sort of character they were expected to portray. If one knows neither of these things, all one knows is that one liked or didn't like the performance. Why do I have to keep repeating this elementary point as though it were rocket science?

JR

#52 Jeff Riggenbach

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Posted 31 May 2010 - 10:14 PM

1. Bias in the Liberal Press?? News Flash: Jeff, Based on his Allegedly Vast Experience Says No Way! Can't Possibly Be!!

> If you knew those people and asked them their thinking, they'd tell you the NYT has no editorial bias

So what? Do you believe everything you're told?

> If you had ever worked with the kind of people I'm talking about, the people who work on large daily newspapers...I worked for two of them.

I don't know why you are not getting a reasonably simple point. Here it is again:

Working for newspapers A and B which were not biased does not enable you to say that newspaper C is not biased or that all 'large, daily' newspapers are unbiased. Working with certain types of people that newspaper A finds congenial does not mean you can talk about -all- the people who work for different newspapers. I worked with "computer people" and managers at Hewlett-Packard. I wouldn't be naive enough to infer from that what "computer people" and managers were like in the corporate culture of IBM in every respect. If you were on the staff of better or less biased newspapers, that would not enable you to infer what the corporate culture was like at another newspaper, any more than working at one company enables you to know the rules, the pressures, the approaches at another. And no, having worked at two newspapers, doing what and for how long?, does -not- make you an expert on the bias or lack of it everywhere.

Almost every Objectivist or libertarian knows the New York Times is biased. Amazing to find someone who is so naive as not to know this. Unbelievable! (I even gave you some illustrative concrete examples to jog your memory, which you ignored: Never let concrete cases stand in the way, I guess.)

2. Don't Give Me No Stinkin' Rules

> The Elements of Style is..absurdly overrated...
> it proceeds on the assumption that there is only one legitimate or effective way to write and that way is the way E.B. White wrote.

No it doesn't. Have you actually understood the book?

More importantly, I wasn't talking about optional personal style. I was giving you basic advice from a reader: lose the verboseness and (unnecessary) slanting; let your argument stand on its own merits.

> If you don't like the way I write, Phil, I encourage you to read somebody else.

Only a man with hubris thinks his writing is perfect and can't possibly benefit from any criticism; the wise man learns even from his adversaries.

> looking in the mirror, preening, and patting myself on the back in smug self-satisfaction because my early decision to read Ayn Rand has left me an expert on everything and I've never had any need to acquire any further knowledge.

This may not be in the Elements of Style but it could be:

--Don't dull the force and clarity of your arguments with bluster and insult.
--Don't exaggerate because you are eager to make a put-down.

,,,,,,,,
We're done here.-->

As much as is possible, I'm pretty much going to ignore the insulting asshole after that last looking in the mirror comment.


You really can't understand anything you read, can you? I never said the NYT wasn't biased. I said the people who work there - the overwhelming majority of them - don't see it as biased themselves. Therefore it is not because they are trying to cooperate in what they know to be the paper's bias that they make the editorial decisions and the photographic decisions they do. Are you actually this dense?

The newspapers I worked for (as an editorial writer and columnist) were both biased. All newspapers are biased. This is inescapable. But the majority of the people who work for them do not see them that way, and they do not make their editorial decisions and their decisions about photographs and other illustrations in an effort to promote a bias they don't themselves see.

It's been a long time since I learned anything about writing from anybody, Phil. And I assure you that you have nothing at all to teach me about it.

JR

#53 George H. Smith

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Posted 31 May 2010 - 10:28 PM

I agree that Pigero would make a good Toohey, but why would Toohey be cast for a film of Atlas Shrugged?


I just wanted to put it in there so badly I went ahead.

Unfortunately, one thing we know for sure is that Dennis Hopper is out of the running for anything.


Not necessarily. He could play Gary Cooper playing Howard Roark.

Ghs

#54 George H. Smith

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Posted 31 May 2010 - 11:08 PM



[Aside: Writing tip for the writing expert: You don't have to overload your language with parody-type words like 'vigorously', 'denouncing' or negative evaluations like 'abuse' or 'tendentiously'. It's more effective if you can bend over backwards to present the view neutrally and still be able then to refute it. Have you learned anything from The Elements of Style? :rolleyes: ]


The principal thing I learned from The Elements of Style is how absurdly overrated it is. It contains some good, commonsensical advice about writing, but it proceeds on the assumption that there is only one legitimate or effective way to write and that way is the way E.B. White wrote. I'm sorry; I don't buy into this. I think White was a pretty good writer, but I certainly wouldn't like the result if he had had his way and everyone now wrote like E.B. White. If you don't like the way I write, Phil, I encourage you to read somebody else.


I recall that Jeff and I had some discussions, maybe even arguments, about The Elements of Style around two decades ago, as we were preparing a seminar on writing that we conducted in Long Beach. I first read the book while I was a sophomore in high school, after an English teacher, who thought I showed some potential as a writer, gave me a copy as a gift. I liked the organization and advice of the book a great deal; it definitely helped me, so it occupies a place in my heart to this day.

But Jeff is right about the book. I would characterize it as a book for beginners. It has sound advice that can help beginning writers, but the advice should not be mistaken for rules. I especially recall the admonition to use the active instead of the passive tense. For a year after I read the book, I religiously attempted to write everything in the active tense, until some of my writing got so strained that I finally got it into my thick head that there is a good reason why the passive tense exists.

In fairness to Strunk and White, I should mention that the tendency to solidify guidelines into rules is a problem that can occur with any book on style.

Lastly, a word of advice to Phil: There are a number of legitimate criticisms that you can make about JR's ideas, but I would steer clear of offering him advice about writing. This is like a little league baseball player offering advice to a major league hitter with a 380 average about how he can improve his game.

Ghs

#55 George H. Smith

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Posted 31 May 2010 - 11:22 PM



In fairness to Strunk and White, I should mention that the tendency to solidify guidelines into rules is a problem that can occur with any book on style.

Ghs


The difference between a "rule" and a "guideline" is brilliantly explained in the following bit of dialogue from Ghostbusters:

[Dana is possessed]
Dr. Peter Venkman: I make it a rule never to get involved with possessed people.
[Dana starts passionately making out with him]
Dr. Peter Venkman: Actually, it's more of a guideline than a rule...

Ghs

#56 Jeff Riggenbach

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Posted 31 May 2010 - 11:43 PM




[Aside: Writing tip for the writing expert: You don't have to overload your language with parody-type words like 'vigorously', 'denouncing' or negative evaluations like 'abuse' or 'tendentiously'. It's more effective if you can bend over backwards to present the view neutrally and still be able then to refute it. Have you learned anything from The Elements of Style? :rolleyes: ]


The principal thing I learned from The Elements of Style is how absurdly overrated it is. It contains some good, commonsensical advice about writing, but it proceeds on the assumption that there is only one legitimate or effective way to write and that way is the way E.B. White wrote. I'm sorry; I don't buy into this. I think White was a pretty good writer, but I certainly wouldn't like the result if he had had his way and everyone now wrote like E.B. White. If you don't like the way I write, Phil, I encourage you to read somebody else.


I recall that Jeff and I had some discussions, maybe even arguments, about The Elements of Style around two decades ago, as we were preparing a seminar on writing that we conducted in Long Beach. I first read the book while I was a sophomore in high school, after an English teacher, who thought I showed some potential as a writer, gave me a copy as a gift. I liked the organization and advice of the book a great deal; it definitely helped me, so it occupies a place in my heart to this day.

But Jeff is right about the book. I would characterize it as a book for beginners. It has sound advice that can help beginning writers, but the advice should not be mistaken for rules. I especially recall the admonition to use the active instead of the passive tense. For a year after I read the book, I religiously attempted to write everything in the active tense, until some of my writing got so strained that I finally got it into my thick head that there is a good reason why the passive tense exists.

In fairness to Strunk and White, I should mention that the tendency to solidify guidelines into rules is a problem that can occur with any book on style.

Lastly, a word of advice to Phil: There are a number of legitimate criticisms that you can make about JR's ideas, but I would steer clear of offering him advice about writing. This is like a little league baseball player offering advice to a major league hitter with a 380 average about how he can improve his game.

Ghs


Of course, George means the active and passive "voice," not "tense."

Thanks for your last paragraph, George.

JR

#57 Brant Gaede

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Posted 01 June 2010 - 01:27 AM

Good and great and especially readable writing is reflective of how and what the writer thinks and his or her personality. One doesn't pull this out of a text. Those texts are written for hacks. Hack writing has its place; it's all over the place. I write a lot of it myself on the Internet. When I stretch myself, however, I can do some pretty decent stuff. Consider the sheer genius of a mere title, J'accuse, which shook a government to its core, so powerful the English language just sucked it in and kept it as such for its own. One reason English is the greatest language isn't that it's, what?, one-third French, but that it will take in everything it wants and needs and keep it. There is no snotty French purity to English. Go away for two hundred years and come back: French will only exist in books, old audio and in English itself.

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#58 Rich Engle

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Posted 01 June 2010 - 03:50 AM

Not necessarily. He could play Gary Cooper playing Howard Roark.


Good point. And hopefully, they won't trot him out for a "Weekend With Bernie" (although, if any cadaver could pull it off with style, Hopper might be that guy).

"The Elements of Style." When you are starting out, a very fast, digestible way to get your groove on. Later--nice to look at when you are making decisions about exactly how you are going to break a "rule." It occupies a warm place in my heart as well. I usually keep one around just to have it. I loaned my current copy to this Honduras guy I know who is trying to improve his writing. It seems like I buy them to give away.

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#59 Philip Coates

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Posted 01 June 2010 - 09:57 AM

> ["The Elements of Style"] has sound advice that can help beginning writers, but the advice should not be mistaken for rules. I especially recall the admonition to use the active instead of the passive tense. [GHS]

It says right in the book: "This rule does not, of course, mean that the writer should entirely discard the passive voice, which is frequently convenient and sometimes necessary." And in many other places it makes similar qualifications.

> I would characterize it as a book for beginners.

I would put it somewhat differently. I'd say it's a book that can be used profitably by writers at -any- stage. Even some who have become world-renowned and influential could profit from it.

Edited by Philip Coates, 01 June 2010 - 10:07 AM.


#60 Philip Coates

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Posted 01 June 2010 - 10:07 AM

Openness to Improvement and Criticism

> offering [Jeff] advice about writing..is like a little league baseball player offering advice to a major league hitter with a 380 average about how he can improve his game. [GHS]

So would that mean no one on this board can criticize a poorly written post? No one who hasn't written a book can criticize one? No one who is not in the "major leagues" with Ayn Rand can criticize her words or writing? I very profoundly disagree with the spirit behind all this:

First, it's not valid to say the so-called or alleged 'authority' or 'expert' (or even the very experienced person) is now perfect, has nothing to learn. Especially from others who do have -some- experience. Especially in a field as complex and capable of higher and higher levels of skill as writing.

Second, it's a bit of a stretch to call Jeff a "major league hitter with a 380 average" (and thus above criticism from lesser mortals). If he were appearing on Sunday talk shows, had a syndicated column in the New York Times, or had books appearing on the best-seller lists, or was in demand as a five figures speaker in college campuses all across the country, yes. But he's a "minor league hitter" who isn't in the majors. Doing an audio book of Henry Hazlitt's "Economics in One Lesson" is not the same as being Henry Hazlitt. Or -writing- as well as Henry Hazlitt.

Note: I am not disparaging Jeff's career. It's a good one. And he was occasionally in some major media about thirty years ago. Among free-market or libertarian thinkers and writers, not everyone is going to be world-famous or as influential as Walter Williams or Thomas Sowell or Charles Murray or Murray Rothbard or Henry Hazlitt. And there is no shame or belittlement in that. But, until you can write with the success and influence of those intellectuals, you should always be trying to improve and should not have the hubris and complacent arrogance behind this statement:

"It's been a long time since I learned anything about writing from anybody." [Jeff, Post #52]

Edited by Philip Coates, 01 June 2010 - 10:19 AM.





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