Dangerous Reading?

Let me start with an attempt to reassure the people of Berkshire.  I have no specific reason to believe that either ravenous wild animals or violently felonious persons have escaped from local incarceration and are now wandering the streets looking for victims.  Nevertheless, it is always as well to be prepared for the unexpected when leaving the relative safety of your home.

As so often, I refer to the imbibing of the written word by way of the optic nerve (and a whole bunch of ancillary equipment: or ‘my brain’ as I like to call it).  I am currently reading The Sense of Style by Steven Pinker: a very entertaining guide to the art of better writing.  If we are all very lucky, this could lead either to a marked improvement in the quality of blog posts or to the complete cessation of the blog as I am too ashamed of my terrible style to further subject it to public scrutiny.   The most likely outcome is probably ‘business as usual’, but with the author being rather more self-conscious about his soi-disant style for a couple of weeks.  Still, I think we should all take a moment to savour my commitment to an improved experience for you, the viewing few.

Almost the first imperative quoted in the book is ‘Omit needless words’ – a phrase which would mark the death-knell of GofaDM (in which, frankly, all the words are needless) – but fortunately he is quoting from an earlier sage and seems to soften this view once the reader leaves the introductory shallows for the abyssal deep of the book proper.  I currently live in fear of Chapter 6, where our hero will discover how irredeemably he has mis-used the humble comma over the last 690-odd posts.  Still, comma-abuse isn’t (yet) a crime under the Laws of England and Wales (though given the rate at which recent governments have been issuing new statutes, it may only be a matter of time).

As a counterpoint, I am also reading Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges (in translation I would stress) which is a collection of his works.  I’m not sure that any style guru (past or present) would wholly approve of his work: though some of that may be down to the translation.  Rarely have I had so much recourse to Mr Collins to look up new vocabulary.  The short stories are commendably brief, but rich with unsettling ideas: I spend much of the day befuddled in one way or another (so no change there, then).

Before this latest wave of book-based befuddlement, I read David Adam’s The Man Who Couldn’t Stop: a fascinating insight into OCD.  From this, and despite my regular forays into somewhat obsessional behaviour, I can be pretty sure that I do not have OCD.  It did, however, suggest that I might be a psychopath.  Sadly, my reading in this field has been limited and nothing further is currently scheduled, so for some time I shall remain in a super-position of psychopathy and relative normality.  In my defence, I would note that, in recent years, my 8.25″ cook’s knife has only been used against targets from the Plant kingdom: so I probably won’t run amok in the near future.  Once again I must stress that I have no reliable foreknowledge of an imminent threat to the people of Reading.

Despite the dangers to both this blog and my mental equilibrium, I can thoroughly recommend a little unsettling reading.  Let’s hope it produces an improvement in quality, or at least style, in time for the celebrations to mark post 700!

† Subject to availability

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