Pro-Missing

promise
A cautionary tale in two stanzas; a reminder to myself, perhaps to you, too.

My two most dreaded activities: promising and footnoting. I despise these when I get downwind of others doing them, and hate myself when I catch myself inflating these useless balloons. Political speech overflows with promises. Academic writing smothers beneath footnotes (and parenthetical asides). I am more capable of promising than anyone should be. The past no longer cares where anyone learned anything. Frequent reverent reference to the source suggests only denial on the part of the story-shower. Don’t tell, just show. Lecturers and scolds commonly exhibit these flaws.

First, nobody thrives on promises. If I have something to say, I could simply say it rather than promising to say it later. Foreshadowing makes weak content; the more superlative the insistence, the lighter the impact.

Second, almost no reader, and even fewer listeners, care about the precise attribution of an idea. Suffice with a general attributing statement, better delivered after the idea, lest the listener’s appetite get blunted or altogether destroyed by lengthy explanation. Context can be set without setting it in concrete and piling on top a ten foot heap of painstakingly carted in stones.

One (I, for instance), might be forgiven for believing that lecturing involves mostly lecturer-izing, exhuming long-dead obituaries, in homage to the really great thinkers, rather than exuding my own perspectives, however enriched or endangered by those who thought before me. Exhumation seems like luxury failing practicality. Walk your talk, please. Walk more, explain less.

©2014 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved










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