On Journal Articles by Edward P. Stapletton
What is the Journal article? What is it composed of? We have an opinion, a thought, and we choose to express it as we will, let’s say an essay or a poem, to our audience. We choose to express it to an audience because we want them to read it. We want people to see our opinions, and, assumedly, we want them to believe them. Why do we want people to believe our opinions? Because our opinions to ourselves, even when we most piously say are simply subjective, are in effect our “knowns”.
We think we know things. We think we have things to tell people. We believe we have knowledge that other people lack. My reasoning? If we did not have something that someone else lacked, we would not need to discuss anything. But, we publish, and in our publishing we reveal our intent. We must share what we know, to those who do not.
What does this mean, then? When you are reading someone trying to communicate something to you, or anything written ever, what you are reading is the account of someone who thinks they have knowledge of something. They think they know something and, importantly, assume that at least one of their readers does not know.
As a writer, do I approach the reader as an equal in a sharing of thought? Probably not, because if I gave the reader the respect of knowing everything I know that I deem to be important I would not need to discuss anything with the reader at all.
There is a flip side. As a reader, have you ever been converted to the thinking of the writer presenting his or her work to you? If that is the case, you have acted exactly as the person who wrote expected someone to act if they were such a person who lacked knowledge and have gained it from the writer. You have been manipulated, at the least, and treated with patronization at the worst. You were patronized by the writer’s assumption that you would learn.
Think about the utter egotism of the writer. No, truly, pause and think. Think about the person who can assume that they know something so important as to tell other people. Think about the egotism of the man or woman who assumes they know and you do not. And if you should agree with the writer, think about the shared arrogance of two people who find they know the same thing. Truly, who is anyone to say that what they possess is even worth the time spent reading the creation?
We can pause for another second. Lets examine an argument against all this. The writer is a person who wants to help. The writer thinks they have something worthwhile to contribute to the outside world, and decides to provide it. They are being nice, they are being generous, they are being kind. They could keep this knowledge to themselves, but they decide it is better to spread it for the greater good.
Surely this is a position anyone would take: What I am writing is meant to help, somehow, the outside world. This is not egotism, it is generosity.
Unfortunately this is not an escape. You, you writer you, cannot escape your brass assumptions. You may claim any amount of generosity, you may truly, truly believe it too, but examine yourself with what you are doing: You have assumed yourself somehow more knowledgeable than your reader. You have brought them down even as you deny you bring yourself up. You look down upon those who disagree, and only eye to eye with those who do.
And with such complete and utter pretension that you even do it in. You, writer, you. You cannot even be honest about what you commit. You must qualify everything you say to appear like you are humble. You say things like, “in my opinion,” or, “it seems to me,” perhaps, “it could be argued”. You hide behind your fancy prose, dictionaried terms. Even as you assure us at every step that you are oh so humble, you reinforce your standing with those old rhetorical tricks.
You take such great pains to structure your writings as you will. You make sure everything is as perfect as can be, for the purpose of making your argument as attractive as can be. Where is this humility then, if only in your half attempted sentences beginning every paragraph. You, writer, you, you go to such great lengths to show how superior you are in every single way; do not even attempt to pretend in your humility.
Take a stand, then, if you must be so bold. Simply say it. I know you want to. I know you want to say that you know. You know it all. Begin each and every sentence of your wretched writing as such: I know. Your humility is insulting, throw it away. Your attempts to rise above your reader in your pedantic structures is ultimately unneeded.
Why unneeded? Well, why are you, writer, you so unsure about the truth of your arguments that you think you need to put up such airs to back them up. Is your idea not good enough on its own merit? No, what it is is that you think the reader needs your help. There is a conclusion, and the reader will never achieve it unless you come down from your tower of ivory to show them the way. Such airs prove your knowledge. Reader, be warned, and I say this truly: Any attempt by your writer to show his or her own authority, superiority, or intelligence, to prove their point, should be met with nothing but complete and utter non-attendance. Simply stop reading, for this writer has committed a holy sin against you. They have believed that a truth, a modicum of knowledge, was so far from your grasp that it could only be achieved if they could prove their own knowledge. The writer thinks that you will be more easily swayed if they are right, than if your own intelligence is appealed to.
You are only sheep to them. Sheep led by a bad shepherd. They think you need a leader to achieve what is true. Well, I declare this. These shepherds have no truth, and they deserve no flock. They insult all of us with their pretensions and their arrogance.
I want them to declare it, high above the mountains, I want them to admit everything they refuse to. Yell it out, you, writers, you: I am right by virtue of being me, and you are wrong until you are similar in that virtue to yourself! That is what underlines all their writings, reader. They think they have knowledge you do not, simply by virtue of being themselves, and they think they can convince you of it by virtue of them being themselves.
They are nothing. They are less than the dirt beneath your heels, and they should be treaded on as such. These writers deserve only one thing, and one thing only.
Our militaristic silence.
So that was just a little opinion piece I wrote, hope everyone enjoyed it. I cannot wait to be writing for all of you as the year progresses.