Caveatus Imperiatum Magnus
At the risk of sounding a somewhat pompous ‘know-all’, I still need to subvert my objections and declare that this is probably the most appropriate juncture to explore, en passant, the apophthegm that asserts that “The Author is always right”. Whilst, for some, per se, this may be construed as a matter for the pedant, it nevertheless remains, I feel, a matter worthy of due consideration and appropriately thorough excursus into every avenue, highway, byway and back lane of synaptic machination.
Armed with the caveat that this may represent little more than a puerile exercise in semantics to those negligent in matters of pertinent nomenclature and who may, concomitantly, not only experience a soupcon of discombobulating confusion but may also feel intimidated by a flow of gratuitous information but must nevertheless, I feel, use a modicum of sense and look to their muttons lest they be draw3n into duplicity, I can vouch that exquisite care must be exercised by the writer lest the reader seek recourse to litigious means in order to remedy their source of discontent.
An air of superiority would be totally out of place in the author’s personality if they aspire to disabuse their ‘customer’ of any false notions, implications or interpretations regarding the provenance and authenticity of their work, be it of an empirical, analytical, theoretical or, indeed, anecdotal, nature. Accordingly, and with this very monition resolutely ‘in applicato’, it would be completely foolish to adhere to such an hackneyed aphorism which, I feel, but would in parenthesis add (mindful of appropriate verity and rectitude), is not quite as platitudinous as some people would like to think and remains germane to the issue under scrutiny.
In a contrived, albeit artless, attempt to lend verisimilitude to their work, the author may discreetly announce whatever pertinent qualifications they have legitimate claim to. Indeed, the use of post-nominal designations would normally reek of pretentiousness (as in the case of the legions of bigoted scribblers of trite, biased or highly emotive newspaper articles peddled with frequent, depressing monotony by the more scurrilous – some might even say propagandistic – elements of our reprehensible ‘Media Nationale’) but in the case of creative literary genius it is not unknown, and hints at the possession of esoteric or arcane - nay, perhaps even recondite - knowledge.
It is perhaps best contemplated with a commensurate degree of intellectual commitment that it is, in fact, very much a case of, and to quote yet another trite epigram, ‘setting a sprat to catch a mackerel’, designed purely, you understand, and with unadulterated probity, to put one at one’s ease. Indeed, one is urged to abandon all preconceptions of elegant subterfuge and embrace the conceptualisation that the quintessential pre-requisite is to be ruthlessly honest with the necessary proviso that any evidence of fawning sycophancy in the mien and demeanour of the author should be studiously avoided in this day and age. Thus the exaggerated and parodied loquaciousness of one Derek Trotter, a.k.a Del Boy, of ‘Only Mooncalves and Palfreys’ fame may be appropriate to elicit risible and jocular response from those who appreciate music hall humour but any writer dedicated to imparting solemn pearls of sagacity endorsed by epochs of diligent scholarship risks all if his art becomes riddled with gratuitous, truckling jargon.
With a mere crumb of imagination, an even more embarrassing scenario might be envisaged whereby the penman who, in a moment of weakness, yields to temptation and wallows flagrantly in lexicographical prestidigitation, may instead inadvertently precipitate a faux pas by uttering a technical solecism or even a malapropism, not to mention the dreaded spoonerism, and in so doing ‘comes a cropper’ by assuming airs and graces which are entirely inappropriate and unwarranted by their small compass of knowledge and which are indubitably deleterious to their reputation.
In discontinuance then, one’s admonition is, I feel, patently clear: whilst a paucity of elucidation is anathema to any assiduous, proficient writer, a surfeit of peripatetic cognitive perambulation may unwillingly not only adumbrate the substance of one’s discourse, but also expedite eschewment by the hapless peruser of one’s literary Opus Magnum in the ineluctable surmisation that it is, in fact, little more than a voluminous excess of excrementitious excrescence. With this is mind, there is, I fancy, more than a nugget of truth in the maxim: “Expand the Nutshell, Contract the Rest”
© Rupert de Cesaris 2001