Friday, February 5, 2010

Manifesto on Writing

1) All writing should have a beginning and an end. Any work that attempts to exist without end leaves the realm of the human, and enters the fictional realm of the divine. Religion is an enemy of the people. Therefore, writing which reaches toward the Infinite is either delusion or poison.

2) Writing must belong to the author and not the reader, or there will only be chaos. If an author produces a sword, the reader has no right to beat it into a plowshare. To do so would be counter-revolutionary. (Even the English language itself agrees with this point. Consider the relationship between the words "authority" and "author.")

3) One sentence should have only one meaning. Trying to create multiple levels of meaning in a single sentence leads only to ambiguity, which is the literary equivalent of anarchy, or to duplicity, which in writing or life is a crime.
This is why we rightly stone the prophets.

4) Context. Context must be closely controlled. Every piece must be contained in its own time, space, culture, bound cover. If you take yesterday and show it to tomorrow, who knows what hideous mongrel might be born of their encounter? (The same is true of mixing west and east, profane and sacred, Norman and Anglo-Saxon, Native American and Jew, male and female.)

5) Order. Does. Matter. If you use the end of books as the gateway to the beginning, a backward-thinking public will soon emerge.

6) Matter. Does. Order. The writer's central concern should dictate the shape a piece takes. If the sequence is disrupted, you can't deliver ideology right. All you will do is shake up the reader's brain. Never shake a baby!

7) A stupid video involving your desire to be in a Maurice Sendak book is not writing. It's infantile, self-indulgent, and makes the reader feel awkward--unsure if he should be throwing change at you or maintaining a safe distance to avoid infection.

8) Writing is writing, videos are videos, what's serious is serious, and a rose is a rose is a rose.
Since a picture is mathematically convertible to prose on a metric scale, the mixing of words and pictures, however, is acceptable.

Uncle Joe wants YOU to be a better writer.


  1. Dear Drona,

    I agree with you that there is something inherently political about the English language.

    In fact, that's what George Orwell argues in Politics and the English Language

    However, you take it a little too far. Orwell's rules create good writings...yours, well, I'll believe it when I say it. Needless to say, your manifesto has officially broken Orwell's final rule ("Break any of these rules before saying anything outright barbarous.")

    Gives James back his blog. Please.


  2. Kathy (if that really is your name),

    Actions speak louder than words. Your friend "George" supported a faction which collaborated with fascists during the Spanish Civil War. Do you still think his essay is so great?

    Also--if a man can't even tell the truth about a simple thing like his own name, what makes you think his writing advice is worth trusting?

    As to your other point--if James is prepared to publicly admit his mistakes and start writing the way a person should, I'd be more than happy to give him his blog back. Since he's unlikely to do that, I'd be more than more happy to write an obituary for him. As a matter of fact, I'm currently working on a draft.


  3. P.S. The draft obituary is extremely short, because my mother used to tell me "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all," advice which takes whole topics and people out of the realm of language.

    So far, all I've got is "James Goldberg died..."

  4. Dear Drona,

    Thank you for so beautifully articulating what closet fascists like me only imply.

    Big Sister

    PS - ignore the name associated with this comment. She is only a puppet.

  5. I think the key to good writing is to be published by a major press.

    Good cover design also helps.


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