In the morning I get up early, just because I do, and let the dog out for a run and feed us and then sit down to read or watch something interesting and meaningful. Now I am reading three books.



I am reading Wm Gass because I learned so much from Professor Brooks Landon, of The Great Courses, “Building Great Sentences.” Prof Landon recommended and seems to greatly admire Wm. Gass. Or maybe he just wanted us to read an extreme manifestation of complex sentences in the hands of a master writer. I have not learned nearly as much from Gass as from Landon.


Why did I learn so much from Prof. Landon? Because he showed me the difference between a great sentence and the modern craze of “writing for your audience,” at the other literary extreme. Writing what and how the corposystem says we should write, in fact must write if we want to become famous and popular, which seems to be the main thing we should want, according to the corposystem.


You can even buy How to Write Books computer programs that set up your book for you, organize the paragraphs, and remind you, if your sentences become too long, that your audience is or should be people of some predefined level of reading skills, somewhere around 7th grade, that can be measured according to the numbers of clauses in your sentences and/or the numbers of syllables in your words. Subject, verb, object; one or two syllables. That is what a sentence must be.


True enough, if you pick a modern paperback nonfiction book off the rack or the library shelf, any one, they pretty much all sound the same; not like Wm. Gass. Reading Gass can be hard going, especially if you haven’t read the authors he reviews. But interesting, admirable.


I do not write great sentences, but I am thankful to Prof. Landon for pointing out that I am not required to write either great sentences or corposystem rote.


I knew that, but somehow it’s nice to have permission; often things do not happen without “permission,” even things we already knew.


Of course, I won’t get published by the corposystem press, but then who wants to march lock-step into the unknowable future, having left behind the essence of her (Gass would have some amazingly creative sentence here, but then, I am also not required to write like Gass, and after reading one of his essays I was already getting bored trying to untangle his admittedly magnificent metaphors among the commas).


Self? Do I mean her Self? Probably everyone will understand that. It may be a metaphor, but is only one syllable, and it seems to me expressing one’s self is more important than expressing either corposystem rote or great sentences.


How about this one from my other reading of this morning:


“The goal of life

is to make your heartbeat

match the beat of the universe,

to match your nature with nature.”

Joseph Campbell, or maybe Diane Osbon,

From A Joseph Campbell Companion.


How different this kind of goal, compared with measuring one’s self against some human goal of full, lock-step equality among all selfs and Heil to the corposystem.   Or on the contrary comparing and competing metaphors among persons of amazingly intellectual selfhood.


Human intellect is a good thing, only if put to good purpose.


And then Campbell (remember his expertise was in the study of religion and mythology, and I’m pretty sure he also read Gass) he went on to say:


“In terms of historical action, Christianity and Islam have the same character. They’re going to remake the world for their God. I find this repulsive, but it’s what makes history, so you have to say ‘yes’ to it. If you say ‘no’ to one little detail of your life, you’ve unraveled the whole thing. You have to say ‘yes’ to the whole thing, including its extinction.” Page 149.