Ambiguity

by / Filed under Thinking

… language in general actually tends to the simplistic, offering a reductive account of what it seeks to represent – it could hardly be otherwise. Hence we prize someone who has managed to put into language, with its relentless and crude semantic segmentation of experience, some of the density and indeed perplexity we feel as we try to get a grip on what is going on around us. — Tim Parks Clearing up ambiguity

Really liked this as it explains what makes writing good. Writing that makes you skip back through the text and reassemble the words and their meaning; not becuase the sentence has been phrased clumsily, but because it offers several interpretations.

I’ve been wading through too much non–ambiguous writing recently, mostly horror. There’s a lot of existential ambiguity in Lovecraft, but the prose is tortuous rather than nuanced.

Not sure where that leaves didactic writers who are masters of ambiguity. Perhaps that’s Tolstoy’s strength?