I think I've finally learned, after a good year and a half of trying, what transparent style really means, and more importantly how to accomplish it. Transparent style, of course, is the style of writing appropriate for most academic non-fiction. Rather than creative writing where you want to display technique, academic writing requires transparent technique. Any device used shouldn't jump out at an average reader. Even quality writing, if it's showy, it distracts from what you're saying.
But that's the kind of thing that your history and countless other teachers tell you before your first essay, not to mention 50,000 other times throughout a course, and unless you've had an epiphany on the subject, you (or at least I) probably don't really know what it means. That isn't to say you don't think you don't know…. I'll stop there.
Anyway, I thought that was kind of cool. I was reading through a bunch of psychology papers today (from Webster's psych student research poster session), and frankly they were all pretty crappy. Well that's a bit strong. What they were studying didn't interest me at all, and this is probably fantasy on my part, but I would like to think that college students aren't just doing research projects to display their competency in methodology, but I suppose that's precisely what they're doing.
The kind of work I'm doing right now, all this gender theory stuff that I'm doing for my IB classes, all display process and all of that good stuff, but I'm doing work that I find interesting and important, original and unique. Gay culture in Jazz age Harlem. There are like a total of three people who've tackled this subject ever. And believe me, I've looked. There really aren't feminist literary criticisms from a male perspective, not to mention gender criticisms from any perspective. I show process, I keep my self interested. One thing that got me in trouble earlier in my school/IB career, is that I'd try and be too contrary, and focus all of my efforts into being contrary, rather than what I should have been doing.
Now, as my recent experience with history essays has proven, getting a good grade isn't about saying the "right" thing as it is about presenting it the right way. I have two perfect papers from history class, where I wrote from two positions that got little more than a scoff when I presented them in class. But I presented my ideas in the way he wanted, and I approached the whole deal with his process. I suppose. I mean I'd like to think I understand that epiphany better than I actually do. I suppose there comes a point with a lot of things where, if you take a step back things will fall into place. So that's what really happened; but in some way I don't feel particulay adept at articulating right now, I think that was really related to my original point. So there!
But I digress. Transparent Style…
What I think this means, basically, is that you don't have to write stunning prose, you just have to write coherent prose. You don't have to use creative constructions; you just have to make sure that your essays flow from one idea to the next seamlessly. You don't have to invent crazy new syntactical phenomena; just manipulate the old ones for proper emphasis (which of course means avoiding monotony). This isn't to say that the words I put up here, aren't going to become more polished suddenly (that's another problem completely). In some cases, TealArt is exempt, because I want my style to show because the whole point of a Journal is for the readers to learn about me through my writing, and style is one of the best ways I can think to do this.
But enough metatalk. Yes, metatalk.
I think/hope that this is one of those epiphanies where nothing actually changes, except my perception of difficulty. Sorry it took so long folks.
PS. Chris and I are doing some metatalk ourselves about TealArt and the like as we are want to do from time to time. We have some simplifications coming around in the next couple of weeks, so keep your eyes pealed. Cheers.