Sunday, June 10, 2007

In Praise of Bad Writing

Full article here: (via Maggie's Farm)

There are at least two benefits of bad writing:

1. It gives an air of profundity. This is a trick Brown learned from many French philosophers (Althusser and Foucault being by no means the worst offenders), English sociologists and (yes) economists. If you write long indecipherable sentences, people will think you're profound and clever rather than muddled and incoherent. If you write clearly, you risk people seeing clearly that you're a fool. In the City, there's a small army of investment writers who are paid to make the inane twitterings of fund managers seem important. They don't do so by pursuing clarity.

2. It allows readers to see what they want. Clear writing gives us something to disagree with. Ambiguity doesn't. People wanting to avoid controversy - politicians wanting to keep a united party, "distinguished people" wishing to avoid looking foolish - will therefore write badly. In my case, it's mere stupidity that causes me to write badly. I'm not sure this is true for everyone else.