Private Baldrick: No, the thing is: The way I see it, these days there’s a war on, right? and, ages ago, there wasn’t a war on, right? So, there must have been a moment when there not being a war on went away, right? and there being a war on came along. So, what I want to know is: How did we get from the one case of affairs to the other case of affairs?
Captain Blackadder: Do you mean “How did the war start?”
Private Baldrick: Yeah.
Now that is not exactly my case, nor is wandering speech and thoughts something I favor, but I have to confess that it does somewhat reflect the nature of my problem. Not as much a problem for me as for others. You see, where I could’ve done with a titter, I guffaw and where I could’ve caught an ailment, I perish. I don’t mean literally, and I surely don’t mean to say that I exaggerate things in any way. What I do mean is this: I have this new found love for the over exploitation of language which sounds pretty much like Private Baldrick’s sentence as opposed to the simple and obvious sentence proposed by Captain Blackadder. I begin to use infinitely extensive sentences filled with unbearably monstrous quantities of impressing words, a habit which is lately being met by frowning brows, yapping mouths and rotten vegetables in flight.
Indicative of a problem.
My tendency to produce excessively ostentatious verbosity has often pestered many, but I have always been a firm believer of the effective use of language. Why should a language which has the ability to soar with eloquence, play with sprightliness and mourn with heart not do so? Why should a huntsmen be deprived of his spears but allowed the bow and why should a player be allowed to play but have his limbs tied? Similarly, why should I be given education, armed with a language and provided with the words as the arsenal but not allowed to use them as I like, to win the war that writing is to a writer? I fail and refuse to understand. For I see language as a tool which disposes me the liberty to use it as I like and with how much regularity I fancy, while I happen to be a workaholic laborer. I utilize the tool until it wears out, and always endeavor to use it niftily and neatly. The resulting product, I assume or at least I prefer to assume, is a figment of my mind expressed through the words I choose to appoint specifically to perform their individual tasks including primarily the task of conveying exactly what I desire to.
It would not be completely wrong if you observe how this post is intentionally more verbose then the others, because you would be undeniably right: I have intentionally done so to highlight my point. Just like I expressed initially, I do not see writing and use of language as something of a trademark or a style which must remain permanently same for a writer’s every work. No, because just like a painter has the liberty to use whatever color he likes, a writer must feel the freedom to use whatever writing style he likes as different styles are suited for different occasions.
Therefore, at this point, I feel it necessary to let the kind reader know where my love for the English language and its intricate use is springing out from: it’s the English and everything they are associated with. They are truly the worthy owners of the language, which they rightly are, and have time and again proven the fact to me through media. I first tasted the exquisite taste of fine English when I read the dancing prose of PG Wodehouse. His stories were dependent not only upon their comic characters’ dispositions, the settings and the hilarious situations Wodehouse so effortlessly seemed to conjure, but also upon the literary mannerism and Wodehouse’s playfulness with words; He could treat expressions and words as toys, play with them, assign them roles and assemble and dissemble them to show us an outcome like a child shows his parents what he has done with the building blocks or dough. Lightly frivolous and masterfully ingenious.
And then there were English butlers, or if you care to assign them their due respect, “personal gentlemen” of the English gentlemen. I came across them through movies and literature which had England as their setting. Wodehouse’s character “Jeeves” was the master of all butlers. Their graceful demeanor, delicate air and the absolute perfection of speech was an appalling display of what being a gentleman was all about. I could not resist but start to imitate their chivalrous ways first trifly, then seriously and finally obsessively. Not in real life, as I surely could not, given that I am a Pakistani and need to shift between Urdu and Punjabi to maintain a common belief among those surrounding me that I am sane. But I really adored using a hundred words where I could have used ten and using ten words where I could have used a hundred. That is, as I figured later, the trick of the butlers: They are precise and to the point whilst using the aid of an excessive amount of speech. Therefore, the length of a sentence or the space an idea takes to be expressed on a paper must not matter and must not be considered as not being to the point. If length of prose is doing anything, it is elaborating upon the point and trying to make the point more to the point. Simply put: More words make the point be directed exactly towards where the writer wants it to go in a better fashion, and not the other way round.
And then there are all those hours of listening to Stephen Fry’s autobiography as audiobook where he seems to quite agree with my thoughts. And those hours also give me that certain ear orgasm or rather blissful satisfaction only skillful use of English can bring about. Oscar Wilde (Whose every line is worthy of being quoted), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Whose world of Sherlock is eternally gripping and a personification of class itself), Hugh Laurie (whose every move is inteligently weighed and comic) and Douglas Adams (Whose universe is the apex of hilarity) are a few English giants to name who have had an immense influence on my way of thinking, perceiving, writing and speaking.
However, I do confess with an apologetically unapologetic apology that I tend to become a show off and a prick sometimes, but I embrace that for as much as I loathe being called these two despicable nouns, I abhor not being able to show off all the more. As in my arguments presented previously, I still do believe in the use of deft sentence structuring and fine handling of one’s writing, but I sometimes seem to overdo it intentionally with the sole intention to impress. Yes, I crave fame, praise and people’s admiration. There I said it! I have never quite got my head round to understand the possibility that someone might not want these, but I’m working on that. Now it is not that this putrid-little-piece-of-a-dead-rat’s-foot blogpost is going to impress anyone or anything mildly close to it, but I like to think it might. And it is this thought which clings to the back of my head and wants me to produce commendable writing on page, writing that I can call an effort and readers can call brilliant. Thus by appearing meekly humble and humiliated, I would be appearing modest when I could have been bragging. This thought alone makes the observer admire me. I might also make a few degrading remarks about my writing and sit back and enjoy the automatic flow of praise I will be receiving as the observer would obviously try to deny those remarks of mine, partly as he may really think I’m better then what I think myself to be, and partly out of politeness. How very pleasing indeed.
Don’t think of me low, this is what everyone does every now and then. Believe me.
But kindly just hold on a fraction of a minute there. Think. Ponder about the last paragraph; how by being open about myself, by being vulnerable, by being painfully or even preposterously truthful, I gained your trust or even sympathy. And somewhere between telling you the truth and cunningly shrouding my tendency to appear impressively honest and my uncontrollable narcissism with the label of “A Confession”, I managed to impress you even if slightly, and contrived to show off one way or the other.
If I were you, I would have been able to literally hear the writer smile with malign and self praising thoughts right now.