If you feel disgust @ the profane(this may help)

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I'm pretty good with indirect meanings, but this one too abstract to mean much to me.

What does a "what" look like?

And I definitely want to know how to recognize the shape of a "something" so I can keep an eye out for it and not feel nauseous myself.


When a comment is made to mean everything, it means nothing.

In Ayn Rand's approach to writing, we constantly see her telling people to illustrate their larger abstractions with concretes. It's good advice and makes for strong memorable messages. 

You don't get much more abstract than "what" and "something." I have a hard time visualizing a "what" and a "something." Imagine trying to remember them later. So guess how long they stay in memory, meaning how long the phrase will stay in memory?


Incidentally, there is a place for using abstract words in this very manner. It's in a form called hypnotic writing. You covertly get the reader to fill in the abstract word with a concrete from his own life without him realizing he's doing it. And you do it for a specific reason.

For instance, in marketing, it's common for writers to be concrete about negative problems and pain points, but then get abstract about the glorious future (after a person uses the service or product to get rid of the problem, of course :) ). This is because almost all people find the same negative things (like pain, loss, etc.) to be bad, but we all dream about different good things for the future. To one person it's a lot of money, to another it's a person who loves them, to another it's a luxury island, to another it's taking care of the family, to another it's a lifetime of high-end achievements in their field, to another it's a new car, to another it's not being sick anymore, etc. For each person it's different. 

So if the reader has been correctly entranced with concrete examples of negative items he wants to get rid of or avoid, he fills in the abstract glorious future in the marketing message with his own images and links them to the service or product. Then he buys. :) 

But, as the marketing example shows, for an abstract word to work in a message like in hypnotic writing, you need to set it up. Just popping out with an abstract word as an item of focus doesn't work well, if at all.

In the opening post, there's the start of a setup by saying Rearden and Dagny, but it's way too vague for any kind of impact. More details are needed.


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