Friday, April 6, 2007

Mountaineering *(and a picture for TW's delight)

After reading Mlynarczyk’s "Personal and Academic Writing: Revisiting the Debate," the question I found myself asking was: Poetic, Expressive, Transactional—what difference does it really make to the basic writer? I don’t mean to sound condescending or glib (ala Matt Lauer to Tom Cruise), but ultimately isn’t it engendering a familiarity with the conventions and practice of writing that is the underlying purpose of the basic writing classroom? If it is, then any or all of the above kinds of writing are not only relevant but important, too. As someone who has toiled quite a bit in all three categories of writing throughout my college tenure, I’ve found that though each of them presents certain unique challenges in terms of structure, style, tone, and etc., the writing skills one develops in the process of any one them are not mutually exclusive of the others. That is, becoming more familiar with the composition of, say, more prosaic forms of writing (i.e. fiction, memoir, etc.) will in all likelihood positively inform one’s ability to compose transactional/academic writing—if only in that it enables the writer to recognize when s/he strays from the intended style. I mean, how many of us have read and/or written essays that come across as more prosaic than academic, when the latter is the goal? Probably all of us have at some point or other been a reader/writer of this kind of essay. So then a reasonable question to ask in a case like that is: Is this a consequence of the writer’s inability to construct academic prose, whether due to a lack of experience and/or training? Or could it just as well be the consequence of the writer’s inability to distinguish between what constitutes academic versus prosaic styles of writing? The answer, at least in part, is probably a combination of both. Thus I agree with Sarah (who modestly refers to herself in the blogosphere as "Creation’s Crowning Glory") when she advocates instilling an appreciation of the entire mountain range rather than only one or two of its peaks. After all, it may be that memoir assignment or that poetry exercise that sparks a more passionate interest in mountaineering, generally. As any climber or mountaineer worth his/her salt knows, you must be practiced in many terrains to excel in the one terrain you prefer above all others. (Okay, I carried the metaphor too far, perhaps, but you get what I’m saying.)

*(TW: How'd you know?! -->
You were right, ol' boy.
It was a dragon. And St. George, knowing that time
machines are not only implausible but also quite unreliable, simply used
a wormhole conjured by simple 4th Century sorcery
about a year prior to his persecution and subsequent decapitation. I wanted to warn him but I was too busy
admiring my new beard, to say nothing of my concern that doing so could initiate a time paradox and the whatnot. I thanked him, though, and encouraged him not to watch the end of Braveheart while he was here.)


Anonymous said...

That's great! Thanks for the laugh.

Reader1 said...

I agree! I mentioned something similar in one of my comments to another's blogs. Any writer, whether basic or not, should have a chance to "exercise" all the forms in their journey to academic writing.

Gabe Isackson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gabe Isackson said...

Sorry for the delete - I had commented on TW and the beard thing.
As to the post...I agree that the whole mountain is the goal before fawning over the highest heights.

bluegypsy said...

Beautiful metaphor! I think it belongs in our wiki section along with my stunning metaphors!