English Lawers (or, how to master writing)

By Xah Lee. Date:

English lawers don't mean shit.

In scientific disciplines, there are usually strict yard sticks of value. One cannot exalt her respectability simply by charisma or politics. “You are what you publish, and what you publish are checked by equations and experiments”. Here the term scientific disciplines broadly and sloppily include any hard sciences or fields based on hard sciences such as engineering or doctoring and nursing.

In non-scientific disciplines, the landscape changes. You can be a moron and still lead a nation. Extreme examples are occupations of occultism. (For example, astrology, numerology, palmistry, tarot, i-ching, … ad nauseam.) Take astrology as a example for illustration. First i'll show you how to master it. First, you can buy all the astrology books you may find in your local book store of New Age section. It'll only take you a few months to read them all. Then, you can go to big university libraries and search for books related to astrology. This is now a more difficult task. There are a fairly wide spectrum on the kind of books on astrology. For example, astrology debunking, astrology history, history of astronomy, astronomy, cosmology, biographies, research journals … etc. Depending on what kind of mastery you wish to obtain, it may take a year to a life time learning experience. At this stage, it's not merely just reading books on astrology. You also are learning or need to learn quite a lot of other skills. Really depending on how far you want to go, you may need basic skills such as critical thinking and basic reading/writing to advanced collegiate skills in history research, mathematics, statistics, or astronomy. All this could take years. Now, if you are still interested, you need to visit practicing astrologers. Get your future predicted by them, try to attend interviews, psychic fairs and events, and even try to become a friend of a astrologer or two. In short, you need to immerse yourself in the field to learn its culture and get experience. If you are nuts about astrology, and have the skills, brain, and stamina to go through these stages, then you have what it takes to master astrology.

Now that you've mastered the non-scientific subject astrology, you may become two things: (1) a knowledgeable practicing astrologer. (2) a pissing debunker hated by astrologers and ignored by everyone on earth. (Note that neither of these professions will earn you a good living, so don't fancy on that.)

Now that a astrology master can choose to occupy either of these diametric opposing vocations is a instance of a illustration that the yard stick of value in non-scientific “disciplines” is totally bendable.

Now back to English…

I was going to say, that writing or English writing falls toward the humanitarian discipline, not hard-core scientific ones.

To be sure, in English there are also metrics called syntax (for the eye) and one called grammar (for internal organs). However, they are far from precise. With all advanced theory of types or lambda calculus or symbolic logic or homological algebra or what not fear-imposing jargons, there is no calculus that specifies the English syntax/grammar and never possible be.

This does not mean that rubbish is indistinguishable from opus, only that the distinction takes for a mastery itself.

What one can do in this sorry situation, is basically taking the same approach as in mastering astrology. One can start by going to a local bookstore and pick up dictionaries and writing guides or one grammar books or two. (assuming you already speak the language.) As you become comfortable, you can move on to the university library and read and read and read and go to newsgroups (like me) and write and write and write. (important: not post and post and post.) There really is not anything magical like some of the physics trick where one equation describes the universe. It all depends on your interest. The more broad and open minded reading you do, the more solidity in your spewing; the more writing you do, the more precision and aiming you have at your spewing. (take me for example: when i open my mouth, black shit of steel spew forthwith at the throats of ignoramuses and hypocrites.) As i have said in other posts, that if you like to advance your skill in non-trivial ways, then you might want to venture into the study of linguistics and symbolic logic as well. Linguistics gives you a generic overview of why English is so stupid, and symbolic logic just confirms that in depth. One advise i must dole out is that you should NOT spend too much time on the so called English grammar. Use them to help you write acceptable phrases. But once you can write naturally, screw them like you'd screw your lover. Go into linguistics, logic, or even poetry mumble jumble instead. (unless, of course, that you intend to profess grammar.)

Language lawers don't mean shit. Those who insist on bantering split infinities, tenseness, plurality declensions, or trifling articles can go to hell. I kick their asses anytime.

Once you have obtained the mastery of writing, there are also two roads you can hop onto just like astrology:

(1) a pissing debunker who has little interest in literary writing or its advocation. (2) a literary writer (For example, poet)

Again, neither pays.

Thank you.