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more on brevity

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more on brevity

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The idea of brevity continues to hang about in my head.  Having focused on it for a while, I have realized some things.

Sometimes I am perfectly capable of saying what I wish to say in few words. I am fairly good with snappy comebacks, and those seldom run on and on. They do say that brevity is the soul of wit, and while that is not always the case, it is very rare to find someone who can be witty without also being brief.  dot_cattiness bears testament to that.

I wrote also two very short posts last night, and while neither was witty at all, they both contained all that I wished.  I wasn't TRYING to make them be short, though. That may be a key element.

This morning I am looking at an email which is nine paragraphs long, and wishing that I had crystallized what I was saying down to three sentences before sending it.  Even as I wish that, though, I'm not so sure that it would be a good thing. 

As far as I can tell, those three keeper sentences are the central branches of the email as it stands, and the blossoms of text that I would prune seem to me to contain additional ideas and supplementary information.  Are those additional bouquets of thought necessary, though?  They might be.  As I wrote, the concepts grew together, in spite of the fact that I was mindful of my desire for brevity as I wrote.  These concepts made the final cut in spite of that undercurrent of desire in me, and the modifications needed to meet my desire might not have worked.  I have tried the kind of pruning I am contemplating before, and ended up not with lovely bonsai communication, but with sadly stunted trees of same - I accidentally trimmed something that was necessary for comprehension, and the whole attempt to communicate became a loss, a wasted effort.  I don't know how it happened, but I know that it did.  Perhaps I am not to be trusted with the hedge trimmers.

The other day, speaking of the quotability of philosophy, nw1 raised the question of clarity of concept as a different facet of brevity - with the view that concise expression is more important than mere minimalism.  Since then, I've been letting that idea trickle through my preexisting thought process, and seeing what it does to the things it touches.  It's... the process feels really interesting, and is sadly indescribable.

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