how to use restraint | virtual book

how to use restraint

#essays #writing #mediums #audio #psychology #hemingway Mentioned in what I'm doing now

Even though Spotify categorizes it as a podcast, Random Tape is something else. It’s a collection of audio recordings that don’t have much to do with each other apart from having fallen into the hands of David Weinberg. They’re strangely engaging. I haven’t listened to the show in a while but I cherish it as a testament to the power of pure audio as a medium.

Recently during my routine cleaning of Google storage forced by their 15GB max and my determination to stay in the free tier, I came across a video that was all black. It was 1 minute and 34 seconds long and had retained its place in my Google Photos purely due to its audio. I had recorded it purposefully with my phone in my pocket during a recent Christmas trip I took with my mom and younger sister to Puerto Vallarta. In it you can hear only our voices and the sound of the beach.

I stripped the audio from the video and kept that instead, reducing its size 100 times. Inspired, I tried the same for a video I took that same trip of a live band at River Cafe, where we had dinner. The result was not only much cheaper to store but also more evocative.

Audio is not just a good alternative to video when storage is scarce, it is, sometimes, a superior medium. Sure, we’ve all heard it, Less is More – but how so? Because excessive information is noise? But how much, or which, information is excessive?

Locating the line via some analytical calculation seems an intractable task. And though I think there is likely an objective explanation – be it psychological, neurological, cognitive, or of some other kind – I’d sooner look to the intuition of artists to answer this question. Even if they can’t tell us where the line between sufficiency and excess is, they can help us develop a feel for where we are in relation to it.

Hemingway is a remarkable example. The restraint in his writing is so strong that it is sometimes radical. He wrote with a plainness that risks boring the reader but often succeeds at stirring their curiosity and drawing them in. This is intentional. Hemingway makes more from less by leaving plenty of space for the reader’s imagination to fill in details from their personal bank of sensory images. If the writer

provides too much

how to make instead of describing

#essays #hemingway #kerouac #diction #writing #style #literature Mentioned in Barbarian (2022), how to use restraint

Despite all my admiration and enchantment while reading Hemingway’s memoir A Moveable Feast I couldn’t help but frowning at his writing mantra: “make instead of describing”. Surely he’s been describing all along? He says he learned from a fellow writer to “distrust adjectives”. I don’t know exactly what it is he learned about adjectives because he did not abandon them.

Jack Kerouac also writes in this way in On The Road, impressing directly and vaguely the sentiments in his mind. “Stream of consciousness” sounds right not only because of Kerouac’s unedited, spontaneous style, but also because he offers access to the unrefined state of his thoughts, the feelings that are evoked in him. Unlike Keroauc, Hemingway edited and manicured his writing until it was pristine, but he presents the minds of his characters in the crudeness of their existence. He portrays thoughts in the way they rise and fall in a mind, appearing as a notion that remains vague if not developed before it exits soundlessly.

At the end there I wanted to use the word “intuitive”. Perhaps this is where Hemingway’s rule of thumb comes into play. Instead of describing the writing and the thoughts as “intuitive”, I can make them intuitive by describing as they exist, rather than describing the category (“intuitive”) to which they belong. Perhaps his rule is about describing things as they are, not as we later understand them. If so, then make instead of naming, or show instead of telling are better phrases.

Perhaps that’s why he uses the word “good”. A good cafe, a good wine, a very good novel. And somehow it works, despite the admonitions of high school English teachers for such vague wording. It describes an easy satisfaction, a vague but certain joy.

, they block the reader’s unique contribution.