Monday, September 25, 2017

Any College Prof Who Equates Trump's Tweets To Proper Writing Ought To Be Fired!

Twitter Troll Trump is spewing cartoon garbage in his tweets - not "poetry" or "concise writing" according to one demented professor.

When Trump's last stream of tweets received segment attention on the NBC Saturday evening news - criticizing the NFL and its players who refuse to stand for the national anthem, wifey had had enough. Sitting across in her recliner, she spat: "The day that tweets get the same respect as regular prose is the day we are all for the high jump!"  "High jump" a Bajan expression for "the end' as in jumping off a high cliff or tall building.

I couldn't bear to tell her that in the weekend WSJ (Sept. 23-24, p. A13) one idiot professor (Crispin Sartwell) at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, actually tried to make that ignorant case ('Texting and Twitter Make This A Golden Age For the Written Word').   The title alone had me prepared to lose my breakfast, but I felt this fool at least deserved a chance to make his case. Within three paragraphs I was forced to lump him with the other extremist contrarians who need to create unhinged arguments of absurd positions to rise above the attention din.  They reason that too many write about the same things so why not pick out a fringe idea to get reads or clicks and defend it with sophistry and specious analogies. 

Such was the case with Sartwell's piece, as when he writes:

"Texting - to say the obvious - is writing. Snapchat conversations are written with thumbs, but they are written. Twitter seems to be getting blamed for many ills, including those of the Trump administration. But whatever else the president does as he tweets, he is definitely writing. Barack Obama composed a couple of decent memoirs, but he is not as prolific an author as Mr. Trump, a master of his chosen genre.

It strikes me that Twitter is not only a social media platform, it is a poetic form, like haiku or a sonnet."

At this point I had to wonder what Sartwell was on when he wrote this unmitigated hogswill. I suspect it must have been a combination of MJ edibles and maybe booze. No sane human, certainly not a professor, could compare a bunch of incomprehensible, misspelled,  cartoon tweets to Obama's memoirs - unless he wasn't in his right mind.  And to compare a tweet to a sonnet carries false analogy to the same level as comparing a can of Alpo to a 5-course gourmet meal for a human. It is simply bare bollocks. Utter nonsense.

Sartwel's arguments fall on many grounds but I will confine attention to two: i) the danger of trying to make policy by tweet, and ii) the fact no university admissions office in its collective right mind would accept a tweet or series of text messages as a substitute for an admissions essay.

The first is most important, and I refer here to an earlier post in which I  made reference to Trump's "verbal looseness"  epitomized by his  reckless December tweet on expanding U.S.  nuclear capacity, e.g.

"We need to strengthen and expand nuclear capacity until the world comes to its sense regarding nukes."

What the hell is he yapping about? Expand nuclear capacity? Is he nuts, ignorant or just stupid? As a number of strategic analysts have pointed out, including staff from The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the U.S. already has just under 5,000 nuclear warheads in its active arsenal and more than 1,550 deployed strategic warheads. This is more than enough to turn the world to ash about six times over.

Meanwhile the clueless media, especially on TV, kept showing the tweet on large HD screens in bold relief, as they scratched their heads, openly wondering what the hell he meant. No surprise here. As I pointed out earlier (Nov. 23rd  post) Twitter is essentially a cartoon language medium by which I mean its 140 character limit basically excludes any complex thought. and most facts.  Or, I might add, any basis for proper explication of what one is communicating.  One is basically reduced to the equivalent of a series of language cartoons.  This also harkens back to the medium used  constituting the basis of the message, as Marshall McLuhan first pointed out in Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man

Thus, no surprise the Trump team itself was scurrying to impose some semblance of meaning on the word jumble expelled.  In fact, as a Denver Post release noted, the "Trump team offered only slightly more explanation of the comment later in the day when communications director Jason Miller said Trump was 'referring to the threat of nuclear proliferation and the critical need to prevent it'"

Well, if that is what he meant, why didn't he write in a proper written format?  Well, because he's a lazy sot and can't even read properly!  The tweet then is the lazy person's form of writing, and certainluy no sonnet or haiku even.   The use of emojis also, which Sartwell defends (comparing them to Egytpian hieroglyphs, if you can believe it) is a shortcut to proper communication offered in actual cartoon form.

Does one really need an I.Q. higher than a hamster's to grasp that tweets  (and most texts) are an inappropriate medium for making nuclear policy Must it really be spelled out for Sartwell?

Let's be clear  that no sane person ought to be propounding nuclear policy via a cartoon language medium. The very choice to do so indicates that person lacks all his marbles. I would add that any person who defends such use also must be questioned as to his "lost marbles".

Trump's tweets, never mind their abbreviated form that Sartwell actually claims comports with the principles of The Elements of Style', lacked any inclusion of relevant facts  But this begs the question of how or why such a truncated medium would be able to to justice to facts in the first place.

In response to Trump's nuclear policy tweets, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists replied:

We understand that Mr. Trump has been in office only days, that many of his cabinet nominees are awaiting confirmation and that he has had little time to take official action. But Mr. Trump’s statements and actions have been unsettling. He has made ill-considered comments about expanding and even deploying the American nuclear arsenal. He has expressed disbelief in the scientific consensus on global warming. He has shown a troubling propensity to discount or reject expert advice related to international security

This was part of  the Bulletin's basis for moving the Doomsday Clock closer to midnight. The fact an inept, ignorant fool was trying to tweet nuclear policy, devoid of facts, and subject to misinterpretation.

Lastly, I do give credit to Sartwell for at least offering one solid, sober perspective on what genuine authorship means, e.g. of real writing:

"Authorship, whether of great novels, fundamental works of history and philosophy, poems that set the soul afire,  or blog posts- can be a lonely journey, It's hard, but all truly rewarding things are."

Yes but that does not include tweets or texts which take minimal effort. The real message of what Sartwell is writing ought to be that those written contributions or communications that take great effort are worthy of being considered platforms for authorship.  Tweets and texts are not because the same effort doesn't go into a message that can be fired off in mere seconds or minutes. Am I saying genuine writing is proportional to the effort put into it? Yes, I am.  If it takes seconds or minutes to do sorry it is not really writing in the manner of actual, serious communication.

And as I pointed out, no college to my knowledge has yet accepted a series of tweets or texts as a substitute for its essay- composition requirement. Case closed!

Tweets may be cutesy modes of communication for the Millennials and many others but they don't make the cut as genuine writing -  any more than a dog's or ape's random paint splashes on a canvas make even a passable work of abstract art.

No comments: