People are used to writing that includes, among its threads, one whose purpose is to reassure you that the author is a nice guy, that he might be wrong, you can still get along even if you disagree, and so on. This is not only absent from the essays, it's been deliberately excised. On top of that, what is there has been distilled for maximum impact and often touches subjects that people have strong emotions about, such as programming languages and what we're doing with our lives :.
Not surprisingly, some readers feel punched in the gut.
J. H. Graham Manuscript Papers
For them, an obvious explanation is ready at hand: Paul Graham's writing is like this because he is like this. He must be someone who doesn't care how others feel and wants only to magnify his own grandiose ideas. In short, an arrogant asshole. I think this explains why people project so much emotion into what they read in those essays. You suck. People don't read them this way because they say such things.
They read them this way because they lack the kinds of things writers are expected to put in to stave off provocation. They lack these things not because the author is an asshole but because he cares about a certain style of writing. Enough, in fact, to pursue it ruthlessly To naively map that back to the personality of the writer is an obvious error, a kind of reverse ad hominem. But it's an understandable error. There aren't many people who care that much about an aesthetic.
Harry Graham Poems
I mean "aesthetic" in a broad sense, by the way. As much a way of thinking as a cosmetic thing. No doubt there is a connection between an author's personality and his style, but it's hardly an isomorphism. I don't know Paul Graham, but I know he doesn't talk the way he writes.
For one thing, one can point to examples like the interview in Founders At Work. For another, nobody talks like that. Wow; I think this is exactly right. I'm always surprised by how offended people get by things I write. It seems totally unpredictable. I didn't expect people to be so offended by this one. In fact, I thought I was saying something rather smarmily ingratiating, if anything: that the famous startup founders you keep reading about in the press are not that different from you, but that they just have, in effect, a healthier work environment.
See the last paragraph. And yet somehow that message has gotten completely twisted around. It's as if people wanted to misunderstand this essay. I've been mulling over why this happens, and one reason is certainly the one you suggest. I try to cut every unnecessary word, and I don't say things unless I'm pretty sure of them. The result sounds arrogant, because it doesn't have any of the hedging people usually surround ideas with to make them palatable.
But there's no alternative. People won't read essays if they're too long. If you want to get a lot of ideas into an essay short enough to read, you have to be so curt you sound arrogant. I had the same thought when I read gruseom's post. His zooming in on your writing style is right on the money. By the way, I could have begun that last sentence with "I think", but I thought better of it.
This is one thing I struggle with myself. I find that I tend to want to write things that cannot be disputed, but to do so I usually have to include all the phatic cruft that you take out. I'll have to work on that. On another note, I also get the impression that you write to a certain type of person.
Possibly a type that is similar to you. People like Jeff who take issue with your essays are simply not the target audience whatever that means. As someone who is currently caged in a job with a big company, I have to say that your essay resonated deeply with me I appreciate the way your essays frequently force me to take a good hard look at what I'm doing, where I want to go, and what I need to do to get there. Keep in mind that different situations demand different writing styles.
For instance, if you are trying to resolve a bitter conflict, "writing things that cannot be disputed" is just the way to go. In that situation, your 1 objective would be to find things that both parties agree on, and build up from that. This also might be a good way to win an argument. I didn't expect people to be so offended either, but in hindsight it does seem predictable. Take the mindset of someone who's an employee and at least slightly insecure.
VERSE AND WORSE
Start reading the "boss" essay with an eye to what it might be saying about you. Does it really matter what's in the last paragraph? Graham died of cancer in London in , aged His first published works appeared during his military career. In , he became a full-time writer, as a journalist and author of light verse, popular fiction and history, including A Group of Scottish Women Graham is best remembered for his series of cheerfully cruel Ruthless Rhymes , first published in under the pseudonym Col.
Streamer, a reference to his regiment. Gilbert , as "that enchanted world where there are no values nor standards of conduct or feeling, and where the plainest sense is the plainest nonsense". Gilbert and suggests that his prose was an early influence on P. Guten Morgen, mon ami! Never saw you looking better!
Who realise that Time is Mon. A treasury of laughter, : consisting of humorous stories, poems, essays, tall tales, jokes, boners, epigrams, memorable quips, and devastating crushers,, selected and edited with an introduction by Louis Untermeyer, illustrated by Lucille Corcos. The Resource A treasury of laughter, : consisting of humorous stories, poems, essays, tall tales, jokes, boners, epigrams, memorable quips, and devastating crushers,, selected and edited with an introduction by Louis Untermeyer, illustrated by Lucille Corcos.
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The item A treasury of laughter, : consisting of humorous stories, poems, essays, tall tales, jokes, boners, epigrams, memorable quips, and devastating crushers,, selected and edited with an introduction by Louis Untermeyer, illustrated by Lucille Corcos represents a specific, individual, material embodiment of a distinct intellectual or artistic creation found in Danforth Library.
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This item is available to borrow from 1 library branch. Creator Untermeyer, Louis, Language eng. Publication New York, Simon and Schuster, Extent xix, p. Contents The obituary poet Charles G. Finney Who was Joe Miller? Robert O. Gilbert The ruler of the Queen's Navee W. Gilbert Etiquette W.