Monday, February 10, 2014

a lesson in style_sirk

We can gain Hugo’s most powerful lessons in his Nuts and Bolts segment of The Triggering Town. I say, most powerful lessons, since after all Richard is not attempting to instruct the reader how to write. His goal is to coach the student to teach oneself how to write.

Noted as merely suggestions, his rules are straightforward. He claims “If they are working, they should lead you to better writing”. [43] However, I do not agree with every suggestion Hugo has offered here, specifically Richard’s stance on semicolons. “No semicolons. Semicolons indicate relationships that only idiots need defined by punctuation. Besides, they are ugly”. [40] Ugly? How could he be so vain to criticize such a neat punctuation mark? Plus, how could I ever make a winking face grammatically correct? Anyways, what Hugo really is saying is that if you believe a semicolon is needed to join the ideas in your work because the connection isn’t that obvious; you must be an idiot.

Swallows hit

the dead end of sky in St. Ignatius

then turn on themselves. Long ago

Indians thanked the church

and changed into trees. Tired of fishing

boys throw a dog off the bridge.

The emphasis on style is a wonderful lesson observed through the progression of this poem. As Hugo walks us along the process of discussion, “the swallows remain to account for the Indians and the boys, as if Indians and boys had no right in the poem without some relationship with the swallows”. [43] This position is stated as a result to the original version of the poem. The reoccurrence of the swallows seems overused to make a connection previously inferred; as does a semicolon. Hugo goes further to tell us, “Once something is established it is left, not used to make sure the next thing belongs”. [44] A side critique is established at this point. It offers that some viewers may find him ‘limiting the young poet’s chance of writing a good poem early’ in which he agrees, but the true lesson learned emphasizes style as the binding force and to promote faith in the imagination. Hugo comments that this minor setback could potentially lead the immature artist to a fuller aspect. This young poet’s piece consists of three excellent sentences. “Connections are not stated, yet we know the three statements are connected. They are connected because the same poet wrote all three. That is, they are products of one vision that, along with style, becomes the adhesive force. This adhesive force will be your way or writing”. [45] I find this informal lecture the most powerful lesson Hugo can explain to his readers. He is in fact showing us how we will find our own way or writing, which is his main objective.

Truth appeared to be a frequent theme I noticed at various times throughout the reading. Hugo is quite frankly honest when he writes, as many of us have observed. This honesty shares characteristics with the idea of truth, or they could be seen as one in the same. As we begin our text, Writing off the Subject speaks first of this truth with two attitudes Hugo believes writers carry to the page. “One is that all music must conform to truth. The other, that all truth must conform to music”. [3] Some of our classmates enjoyed this quotation and touched on its importance at earlier times. I find value in Richard’s words since he believes the first will limit the writing of poems to the ‘very witty and clever’ and claims ‘you are jeopardizing my livelihood as well as your chances of writing a good poem’ by accepting truth in this attitude. Hugo accepts the later approach hinting a dash of humor of his employment as a writer while speaking of ‘love the sounds of words’ making the acquisition ‘try to stop us’ as poets who are passionate in their cause. In Statements of Faith the line “However a poet feels about himself, he feels it in such a way that at moments he can play with the feeling”. [71] strikes heavily on the theme of truth. Showing truth to oneself to the extent of toying with one’s emotions is an unlimited ability everyone should share. The poem by A. R. McCollister found in How Poets Make a Living also mentions the concept of truth. His line “I only lost homes in my lifetime”. [107] spreads icing on the cake. The Admiral cannot display any more truth in his faithful words. After the eviction, he and his wife took their only worldly possessions ‘old pieces of dirty rags, hunks of wood, maybe even stones’ with them to a property the Admiral claimed he owned, with the loss of only a home. Richard Hugo, as the Admiral, shows truth and lives for the primitive attribute exhibited by A. R. McCollister. “no job accounts for the impulse to find and order those bits and pieces of yourself that can come out only in the most unguarded moments, in the wildest, most primitive phrases we shout alone at the mirror”. [109] is the truth Hugo explains as he answers the question he asked at the beginning of How Poets Make a Living, which asks the differences for a poet between the real world and academia. Truth is an evident theme appearing commonly in The Triggering Town and I find it understandable why Hugo would want his students to learn from truth, since being truthful is a highly pursued quality.

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