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Ernest Hemingway, Twitter & Pierre Trudeau


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There’s a legend that Hemingway was challenged to compose a story in ten words or less. Hemingway collected the bets, whipped out a napkin, and scrawled these six words:

For sale: baby shoes, never used.

Hemingway, born in 1899, was famous for brevity.

Well. Twitter is also known for restricting content to, I think, 140 characters. Hemingway, some 100 years ago, did Twitter better.

Trudeau (père) wrote somewhere (before 1963, while admittedly also using words such as "cybernetics") that the "future will be more rational".

======

If I have any conclusion from these three points, in the realm of arts, culture, political success or life in general: it's the following: "Don't waste other people's time: the most valuable resource they own."

Edited by August1991
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I believe that some individuals choose to waste other peoples time rather than their own time. As attributed to Woodrow Wilson - "If I am to speak ten minutes, I need a week for preparation; if fifteen minutes, three days; if half and hour, two days; if an hour, I am ready now."

I suggest that this could also apply to posting. By the appearance of some posts, some posters just type into their keyboard and hope that their fingers can keep up to their thoughts. Some do take the time to consider a response, how to compose it and check it before hitting the enter key.

We have an unwritten rule for us old folks who meet at the local Legion for a cold milk and providing solutions for the world problems: It is called the three minute and two bullshit rule. This means that any one individual has only 3 minutes of continual talking to make his point or counter point. Then he is cut off. Also, if at any time during a prolonged dissertation any other two individuals at the table yell "bullshit" then you are also cut off.

That encourages participants to think a little before taking the floor.

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We have an unwritten rule for us old folks who meet at the local Legion for a cold milk and providing solutions for the world problems: It is called the three minute and two bullshit rule....

I believe that some individuals choose to waste other peoples time rather than their own time. As attributed to Woodrow Wilson - "If I am to speak ten minutes, I need a week for preparation; if fifteen minutes, three days; if half and hour, two days; if an hour, I am ready now."

....

I suspect that, unlike Woodrow Wilson, Trudeau Jnr or Tom Mulcair, Stephen Harper (Heave Steve) understands this idea very well.

Trudeau (father) certainly did.

Edited by August1991
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I believe that some individuals choose to waste other peoples time rather than their own time. As attributed to Woodrow Wilson - "If I am to speak ten minutes, I need a week for preparation; if fifteen minutes, three days; if half and hour, two days; if an hour, I am ready now."

I suggest that this could also apply to posting. By the appearance of some posts, some posters just type into their keyboard and hope that their fingers can keep up to their thoughts. Some do take the time to consider a response, how to compose it and check it before hitting the enter key.

We have an unwritten rule for us old folks who meet at the local Legion for a cold milk and providing solutions for the world problems: It is called the three minute and two bullshit rule. This means that any one individual has only 3 minutes of continual talking to make his point or counter point. Then he is cut off. Also, if at any time during a prolonged dissertation any other two individuals at the table yell "bullshit" then you are also cut off.

That encourages participants to think a little before taking the floor.

We used to have a rule that you couldn't begin a sentence with "When I was in..." That sure cut down on the bs.

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I believe that some individuals choose to waste other peoples time rather than their own time.

Duh. When did you realize this "belief"?

I suggest that this could also apply to posting.

[sarcasm]Good point![/sarcasm]

We used to have a rule that you couldn't begin a sentence with "When I was in..." That sure cut down on the bs.

When I worked at Pharmaprix, years ago, I first realised that I might be surrounded by idiots, only to discover later that some were smarter than me...

It is one reason that today I am a conservative; but bcsapper, it's not really the point of the OP.

Edited by August1991
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There’s a legend that Hemingway was challenged to compose a story in ten words or less. Hemingway collected the bets, whipped out a napkin, and scrawled these six words:

For sale: baby shoes, never used.

Hemingway, born in 1899, was famous for brevity.

Well. Twitter is also known for restricting content to, I think, 140 characters. Hemingway, some 100 years ago, did Twitter better.

Trudeau (père) wrote somewhere (before 1963, while admittedly also using words such as "cybernetics") that the "future will be more rational".

======

If I have any conclusion from these three points, in the realm of arts, culture, political success or life in general: it's the following: "Don't waste other people's time: the most valuable resource they own."

Thanks for a great post.

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Thanks for a great post.

Great post? Why?

=====

In fact, my OP was a defence of Harper's political style: Harper (like Mackenzie King) only talks to us when he has something important to say.

Edited by August1991
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"For sale, baby shoes, never used." is an example of exceptional writing. The statement implies various scenarios based on the words used and their interaction. Anyone reading this statement would be enticed to read on to find out why this situation occurred.

I agree with jbg thanking you for sharing that phrase. I have learned from it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

"For sale, baby shoes, never used." is an example of exceptional writing.

I disagree, sort of. Tolstoi and Hugo were exceptional writers, yet they wrote pages and pages.

Politics is different from literature; and modern literature is different from the 19th century.

Trudeau Snr and Hemingway were right: most people nowadays have valuable time and so writers, politicians should be brief and get to the point.

Edited by August1991
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I recall the phrase "Brevity is the soul of wit" was spoken by Polonius in Hamlet, just before he blathered on at length to prove he was neither brief nor witty. Conversely, though I haven't read the book myself, I've heard that Bret Easton Ellis went wrote at length about trivial detail of Patrick Bateman's high-end consumer goods in "American Psycho", to make a point about the empty, soulless existence of its (uhhh...) protagonist (?) ...we see this reflected in the movie, as he monologues at length ascribing genius and purpose to the rather vacuous lyrics of Huey Lewis. He's searching for meaning where there isn't any; he's filled his apartment with shiny objects to provide some sense of purpose and accomplishment in his meaningless life.

"For sale: baby shoes, never used." That works because it engages the reader's imagination to fill in the details. But it doesn't make any statement about the human experience... it invites the reader to make their own statement. This might be an effective way for an author to stimulate a reader, but it's not effective at actually expressing an idea or a theme you want to explore. Inviting the reader to fill in their own mental picture of the contents of Patrick Bateman's apartment doesn't express the idea that Easton-Ellis wants to convey.

Brevity in politics?

The most successful political slogan in recent history? "Hope and Change." Like "For sale: baby shoes, never used", "Hope and Change" invites people to fill in the blanks. What kind of change? What are you hoping to see? People took it to mean everything from economic opportunity to ending racial inequality to Wall Street reform to affordable education to marijuana law reform. When people looked at the actual policies they weren't actually all that great, but if you ignore the specifics then Hope And Change was whatever you wanted it to be.

Ever watch a horror movie, and find yourself quite scared anticipating the monster, ...and then when they actually do the big reveal, it's ... kinda lame? Way less impressive than you imagined it? Like the horror movie monster, once you got to the big reveal, "hope and change" was way less impressive than than you imagined it was going to be.

We live in an age where people watch 30-second segments on the news, and meet the politicians in 10-second soundbites, and the politicians stand on a stage festooned with posters saying what they're talking about because otherwise viewers won't know from the 10 second soundbites. Brevity is a matter of necessity because of the way people receive their information. The politician might well have some more detailed policy to address the issue, but for the sake of the people watching their 30-second segment, he also has to get that message condensed into a 10-second soundbite.

-k

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I am always as brief as possible. When you're reading your daily Kimmy you can always be assured that you're seeing ideas expressed as concisely as you'd expect from a writer of my calibre. A page of text from me is as thought-provoking and engaging as a whole thesis from lesser writers!

-k

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I am always as brief as possible. When you're reading your daily Kimmy you can always be assured that you're seeing ideas expressed as concisely as you'd expect from a writer of my calibre. A page of text from me is as thought-provoking and engaging as a whole thesis from lesser writers!

-k

With all your attributes, humble as well.

I used to love Hemingway, but too many of his books focused on killing animals for sport, which really turned me off

Would your avatar like to get a cup of coffee sometime?

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I am always as brief as possible. When you're reading your daily Kimmy you can always be assured that you're seeing ideas expressed as concisely as you'd expect from a writer of my calibre. A page of text from me is as thought-provoking and engaging as a whole thesis from lesser writers!

-k

Uh. Not.

Kimmy, you can be verbose. Yet many (eg. me) will read you.

Harper does not have such luxury.

Edited by August1991
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  • 1 year later...

It seems that Justin Trudeau does not understand his own father's advice; or maybe his writers/advisors don't know.

Soon, at best, some female voters will see him as another Vero or Oprah.

Unless he changes, everyone else in Canada will soon see him as another Justin Bieber.

Edited by August1991
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  • 6 months later...
  • 5 weeks later...
On 8/13/2015 at 10:37 AM, cybercoma said:

Good politics is not brief. Good politics takes time for people to appreciate and understand as well. Populist politics is brief and gets to the point with poor sophomoric solutions to complex problems.

Politics like food, is varied as part of your diet.  You are what you eat.  A good diet has a bit of this, and a bit of that.  Too much populism is like too much junk food: the need for immediate payoff makes one obese and mentally ill.  This is where we are now.

But you can't cut it off, you just have to find a way to channel the populism to something positive and effective.

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