The Wikipedia report:
Believe me, it’s nothing to brag about. Two weeks ago in this very slot, this column ran nigh onto 1,800 words. And, that’s after deleting a section containing another 200.
Not my fault really. Always had things to say but the streams of thought got caught behind a stuttering tongue, filibusters and a towering dam of distracting issues, with only a trickle from the spillway. Then, miraculously, after retirement skies opened up torrential rains poured down, pressure built, the bulwark caved and words long restrained came spilling out like water in a frog drowning gully washer. Welcome to Garrulous Gables.
Garrulous? Oh yes, garrulousness speaks to style. Garrulous means excessively talkative in a rambling, ‘round about manner especially about “trivial” matters. At my present age and stage no choice but to accept the garrulous label; as they say, the “proof is in the pudding.” Or make that in the reading? The “trivial” part of it is forthwith rejected on account it doesn’t reflect the genteel carriage of a proper old gentleman.
Yet, being labeled garrulous is not so harsh as called a prattler which means to talk at length in a foolish or inconsequential manner; irreverent maybe but certainly not inconsequential. Or just split the difference and call me loquacious. Now that’s something we might live with; loquacious is an in-betwixt word meaning a tendency to talk a lot.
Better yet, call me expansive. Expansive just might nail it. (Hmm? What’s the word for ‘talking a lot but not having much to say?’) Circumlocution? Dirksenesque? Dirksenesque it is! Certainly you remember that guy? My most favorite U.S. senator ever, Everett Dirksen from the great state of Illinois, a man whose oratorical sophistication and articulation remains unsurpassed in the Hallowed Halls though many have attempted and others yet aspire. A fellow whose flowery oratory was a thing to behold but left one completely befuddled as to content. But heck, what matters it, so long as the prognostication is entertaining.
It’s not that I’ve never been lectured for my wordy meanderings. A critic once advised that, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” I do not believe it was meant as constructive criticism. Anyways, who in heck is this bird - or “bard,” Shakespere, from whence came the quote but another voluble character with quill in hand and a continuous flow of Old English vocabulary. Who is he to say? Guy couldn’t even figure whether “to be or not to be.” Actually, the criticism t’weren’t really an objection to the proportion of wit within an excessive amount of writ, rather, a critique of political content.
Be as it may, a regular reader of this column, if there be such, might imagine lengthy argumentations in short crunched-up periods of time indicate a quickness of hand and a sharpness of mind. Abracadabra! Choose a topic, grab a coffee sit down at the ol computer, dash off a few hundreds sheets essay, ship it over to the paper presto old chap, jolly well done!
It would be wrong to surmise. In fact, the race is snail-pace, the effort time consuming and laborious; the writ and the wit, if wit there may be, flow from pen like molasses; the ideas are fragmentations, inspiration comes in bits and pieces the focus floats like an unmoored boat.
Call it ADDA (Attention Deficit Disorder of the Aged) as opposed to ADHD, a commonly diagnosed attention disorder characterized by lack of mental focus.
Other than the ADDA syndrome which effects the laggardly pace of the scrawl that constructs this column is the constant editing, and reediting the edited. Without deadlines it might go on forever.
Yet, we hang in there, not because we world hangs in balance of every jot and tittle, but the hour is late and having said virtually nothing most of my years, don’t want to pass on to my heavenly reward without having said—something.
There is of course a much easier, faster formula for producing script, especially if the script is political of nature. Call it copy and comment; let others do the heavy lifting.
It’s everywhere, from the local daily to the New York Times, to monthly/weekly magazines delivered to your door to pamphlets passed out on street corners to spinners hawking their wares on radio and television. This new fangled internet thing reminds of the old sixties song by Arlo Guthrie, You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant. Therein, one can find published essays on just about any subject that suits the fancy, from politics to the study of Tsetse Fly cultures of tropical Africa, to things that would surely put a blush on the face of proper society, and from every angle or perspective imaginable; pick yer pizen, there are sources out there that can - and will - confirm any and every prejudice dear to a mans heart and soul.
Wikipedia is one site of many: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia created and edited by volunteers around the world, many who contribute anonymously or under a pseudonym. (Wikipedia considers itself unreliable as a source because it is user-edited)
Yet, like Alice’s Restaurant, you can get anything you want at Wikipedia, whether it’s the unbiased “skinny” may be another matter.
Say one wishes to write an essay on the life and times of Billy Graham. Searching public archives, checking autobiographies, researching history and chronology is a time consuming process while sources as Wikipedia will serve up the whole shmeer with a click or two of the key. In fact, an article featuring a negative critique of son Franklin, an intense evangelical type on the order of the Apostle Peter of who it has been written, “contended for the glory no matter he often missed it,” appeared here a few weeks ago with a near point by point Wikipedia produced essay.
Piece of cake! Should we choose to simply muckrake, (consistently dig up dirt on individuals or associations we dislike, or seek to disadvantage others for the purpose of advantaging our selves or our own associations) even the clueless might produce lengthy essays seven days a week by drawing from a variety of treatise that are as close as our fingertips. Just copy and paste.
Essays, pro and con, may be dredged at a moments notice, on every U.S. president, Democrat or Republican, on every national hero, on every historic figure. What’s the currant need? Seek and ye shall find. According to the need, perspectives may be conjured that fits any political, ideological or theological philosophy one desires on such standards as Joan of Arc, Mother Teresa or Mahatma Gandhi on one end of the spectrum, to such debased figures as Attila the Hun, Hitler, Stalin and Mao. And yes, once, brother Ray Taliaferro, a late night radio talk show host on KGO San Francisco did an admirable hatchet job on the Rev. Billy Graham. I’m sure its archived over at the studios, just give a call-in to KGO. “Alice’s Restaurant” is nigh as expansive as the whole dang universe, the menu just as infinite; sit down and order your choice of plates no need to stay home and cook it thyself.
However it is, the writer of this column working from scratch chooses to follow the philosophy of Will Rogers who opted not to repeat verbatim the printed word but rather use what he found therein as a source or basis for social observations and commentary on the foibles and eccentricities of the human cerebral construction.
It takes time and effort for discursive old gray matter to assemble the diffused and then to disseminate the fruits of inquiry across the written page, but cerebral exercise is healthy, a wall of defense against the mental slide of old age, an inoculation against depression, obsession and simply bullheaded onerousness.
We do have our share of frailties, our own human foibles and remain subject to instruction in most everything we might imagine to explore, but in the end we sit to the puzzle and put it together piece at a time; and though the task be tedious and slow, be it good, bad wrong or right, the prognostications herein, are conjured from my own ruminations, are mine not the articulation of someone else.
Yes it may meander like the Devil’s Footprints, take a bit of time and the “sophistication” may fall short but there’s satisfaction in thinking and writing for one’s self. A perfect fit for a column titled “View from the Bottom Rung.”