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Saturday, February 2, 2019

Elaborate explanation of brevity

                  Elaborate explanation of brevity –Part-1

I would like to elaborate on the actual meaning of ‘brevity’.

While everyone agrees that moderation is the sign of sanity but context is the deciding factor in vicinity and visibility.

Wise political strategy requires venting of natural mass emotions and also moderating it with voices of moderation from higher authorities.

When we ‘quote’ something it conveys what we want much better /effectively than what we may have to struggle to come out with an articulation of our own.

But the problem with quotes is that when they are used to convey the hidden intentions the covering up becomes conspicuous at least in contours [perhaps like the hidden anatomy of heroines in rain drenched transparent cloths of Bollywood  films].

Even Shakespeare made it very clear that ‘Brevity is the soul of wit’ please note he meant only ‘soul of wit’ and not in anything else.

Perhaps we may add brevity in emergency situations or for reasons of diplomatic wheedling where the recipients are made to get embroiled in multiple interpretations.

But definitely brevity is not meant for any detailed and planned military operations or the resultant expressions of spontaneous eruption of emotions [joy or sorrow], more so, when they manifest as mass euphoria or mass frenzy due to the much awaited paradigm shift in attitude of often  ending  up in a situation where each one of us say desperately or out of indifference say, as very well conveyed in this quote,  ‘I don't have a solution but I admire the problem’. The function of genius is not to give new answers, but to pose new questions - which time and mediocrity can solve.-Hugh Trevor-Roper - Men and Event

Elaborate explanation of brevity  part -2

Basically human beings are animalistic by instinct and impulse but use or expected to use or obliged to use the sixth sense when they want to become or be or behave like a social beings.

There has been initially some over dosage of war and victory in the whole of history.

Then slowly the intellectual giants injected through epics and myths wisdom and values as justifications to ensure that humanity accepted wisdom and values as inevitable dosage of medicines in order to evolve as better social beings to lead life together with all other species with some ethics and rules.

This, I feel was perhaps the larger intention and subtle message of all epics, and not prowess in archery or skill in using all sorts of crude weapons for gruesome results or for cinematic effects.
It is all well known that whenever there is a victory or success in any field of activity people go gaga over it and also resort to all sorts of claims.

It happens when any country wins a game of football or cricket and it is nothing but a manifestation of jubilation.

To my knowledge Shakespeare himself, had he been brief in debating over the dead body of Julius Caesar the world would have lost one of the most inspiring speeches by Mark Antony and the others  and also lost a marvelous piece of literature and multiple templates for logical and emotional justifications.

What about Shakespeare’s famous soliloquies and sermonizing speeches of his characters.
If brevity alone has been insisted as in SMS or Twitter, then, perhaps, only didactic sermons would have survived and all literature buried; only poetry would have survived and not music and songs; only bed rooms would have existed and not wedding celebrations; only dictates of powerful leaders and not political speeches and debates; only barter system and not the complicated economic structures and so on.

We need to remember over simplifying, over generalizing and over homogenization are all against natural evolution.

Brevity in many contexts is like raw vegetables and plants, one cannot eat them as they are; they need elaborate cooking and attractive dressing combined with the aroma of enticing spices.

Shakespeare whose ‘brevity is the soul of wit’ is often quoted out of context.

Shakespeare himself  knew that his spontaneity of expression and elaborate exhibition of emotions of his characters needed lot of elaboration and realized that even the existing vocabulary of the language was  inadequate that he ended up coining at least 1700 new words and expressions and introduced them into the English language which ultimately enriched both the language and literature.

It was good that he never misunderstood the meaning of brevity out of context.

Can anyone define the ‘brevity’ or at least recommend it in all contexts.

Had Lord Krishna chosen to be brief, in fact that is the expected line of activity in crisis, and instructed Arjuna to just go and plunder the enemy with arrows the world would not have got the Bhagawat Geetha running into several chapters of great philosophy.

The world would have been deprived of  great rational and philosophical lecture on professional integrity if the architect in Ayn Rand’s Fountain head just said he wanted to do this or that ,instead of  elaborating the reasons.

Elaboration is both excellent and inevitable [1]

Even abbreviated attire is recommended for swimming [gender neutral] not while strolling in chill weather.

On what basis can 
one decide brevity?

I can furnish single sentences, meaningful ones, not the unpunctuated ones like mine, which run to pages.

So, can someone produce one such sentence and claim that he has been brief as he has used only one sentence. [2]

The level of enthusiasm and exaggeration varies from individual to individual and from context to context when it comes to expressing and communicating.

Stories of revenge and restoring relatively better option through all means, sometimes involving violence as a means,   fills the pages of history of humanity and is also the main plot in many epics be it Ramayana or Mahabhratha.

In all such episodes in history and epics there has always been celebration of victory and condemnation of defeat.

Both are wrong and everyone who can pitch in either in main stream media or social media have their right to express their opinion in their own way, of course, with the rider, to ensure that whatever they say does not ignite further trouble or foment more violent reaction and escalate animosity.

But then in success and victory always as a rule covers all blunders. When India wins a match no one question about shot selection of a number 10 batsman.

                                 Elaborate explanation of brevity-part -3

Editor’s dilemma is in determining the length of a sentence and extent of elaboration of any idea.
When I saw this post about the problems faced by editors I was travelling with very low battery but noted that I must debate on this issue.

Editing is important, some cases inevitable too and in certain cases renders a work more interesting through fine tuning and chaffing of the unnecessary frills covering the important substance or subject.
But how much is too much and who gets the privilege of deciding that.

Whether editing must be used as a nail filer or as a vegetable or fruit skin peeler or as a surgical knife or as a lumber jack to fine tune a presentation.

All artists in all forms of art create or render their works as a flow of their creative expression involving the romance between the medium with all its techniques and tools and what the artist wants to express using them.

We can see this romance in alapana [elaboration in music], a painter splashing multiple colors , a photographer taking photos from various angles, a writer weaving multiple expressions to express ideas, thoughts, descriptions and so on.

Every phrase in an alapana, every line or colour in a painting, every expression in writing, even the redundant ones or synonyms may have popped out of certain nuances that must have struck a chord in the mind of the artist/writer.

That’s why editing is a very delicate job like tight rope walking- the emphasis of focus is on balance than on exuberance or exhibition and ultimate aim is to ensure that final output is enjoyable or useful to the intended recipient.

When I see a movie like PINK PANTHER I am in total admiration of the editor; when I see Sivaji Ganesan’s over acting I feel that both the director and editor have failed miserably; when I see excessive, unwarranted, repetitive long winded dialogues in Indian movies it is irritating.

However, when Semmangudi elaborates a raga in alapana or a Madurai Mani Iyer repeats certain kalpana swaras, when J.Krishnamurthy or Osho repeat certain intrinsically valuable philosophical truths in different ways , when Shakespeare’s or Kalidasa’s plays delve into multiple descriptions I would love to savor them in all their entirety as many times as I can.

Life after all is a collation of repetitions. Repetitions of various kinds and intensities and which could be categorized as inevitable, interesting and incorrigible.

As in many other realms of life, editing and determining the length of a sentence too, our attitude is, inevitably one that is ambivalent.

Here is what I wrote on three topics of remote relevance to the subject of discussion

1. Length of a sentence

2. Need for elaboration

3. Repetition- the predominant factor of life

Once I had an argument with an editor, I told her , well I thought writing a cheque in your name for hundred thousand rupees i.e. 100,000 but then I edited and removed the four zeros which I felt were a mere repetition.
                          Elaborate explanation of brevity-part -4

Why we have too many activities in wedding/marriage ceremony most of which do not matter at all?
Why did not the religions just convey in one line sermons like Avaiyar or Saint Tiruvalluvar and instead opted for not only voluminous scriptures and also created many epics and mythological characters? Even with such elaboration, interpreting religious scripture is a billion dollar business in all religions.

Why in military they just stop with teaching only how to operate weapons but also subject one to rigorous repetitive drills? Most activities are dominated more by frills and drills.

Why can’t sport men just made to go and play instead we subject them to so many physical and psychological toughness testing drills?

Why cannot we just teach someone when he can understand how to build a bridge?

Why must we make him study 12 years of all stuff which he may never use in his life and another few years of useless studies?

Why the hell did Shakespeare tell just that Romeo and Juliet were romantic lovers, instead wrote such a long poetry to understand which I had to read a dozen guides?

Life itself is confusingly perceived and lived, though unfortunately, more through its ambience than what it really is. Jaggi Vasudev explains it very nicely.

It is all because to ensure that we never omit any micro detail and at the same time ignore to have a macro view and as a result perception becomes encyclopedic.

"The simplicities of natural laws arise through the complexities of the language we use for their expression."- Eugene Wigner 

I firmly believe at least while discussing certain subjects in what Dobelli says, ‘In the Art of Thinking clearly’ "With journalists, it is more difficult. Some have acquired true knowledge. Often they are veteran reporters who have specialized for years in a clearly defined area. They make a serious effort to understand the complexity of a subject and to communicate it. They tend to write long articles that highlight a variety of cases and exceptions.”

"Abandon the urge to simplify everything, to look for formulas and easy answers, and to begin to think multidimensionally, to glory in the mystery and paradoxes of life, not to be dismayed by the multitude of causes and consequences that are inherent in each experience -- to appreciate the fact that life is complex."- M. Scott Peck

"Existence consists in the interplay of a plurality of elements whose true nature is indescribable and whose source is unknown. Combinations of these elements instantaneously flash into existence and instantaneously disappear, to be succeeded by new combinations of elements appearing in a strict causality." - Earle Ernst, The Kabuki Theatre

"To make progress in understanding all this, we probably need to begin with simplified (oversimplified?) models and ignore the critics' tirade that the real world is more complex. The real world is always more complex, which has the advantage that we shan't run out of work."- John Ball, 1984, Memes as Replicators, Ethology and Sociobiology, Vol. 5

This is why Raga alapana in music and foreplay in sex are also considered as an important component.

Everything has its own influence and impact. So, we can neither deny nor defy the importance of anything nor can we even claim to know/ understand or define everything.
Abbreviation is good in satire and sometimes in attire and in retorts but never in serious discussions.

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