20 January 2004


Recently certain friends and acquaintances have been asked to give feedback about this site, to choose their favourite articles, since I'd like to assemble a portfolio of my own. There were those who were not really interested in commenting but not forthright enough to say so, or too polite to offer anything constructive beyond "Yeah, I'm reading it...", which is of course the polite version of "no comments", Singaporeans' most popular answer to just about anything... I'm kind of sorry for having inflated expectations of their expressive abilities and imposing on their time. Which is my own polite way of saying "fuck you", in case anyone wonders.

And to those who took the time to read, to consider, and voice their opinions, and for those who posted comments here on xanga, many thanks - you know who you are!

Whether this blog was praised or panned, people tend to agree that
1. Illusio has a high 'bombastic' word count.
2. "The cerebral undertones... come across rather much too strongly".

noun. A formal justification, explanation, or defence of one's opinions, position, actions, or belief system.
Note: NOT the plural form of "apology", and has NOTHING to do with making one.

1. I have always tended to write about specialised topics, uncommon things, and tend to push myself to deep analyses of my subjects. It's my prerogative. And, as a sympathetic reader pointed out, "everyday language lacks... conceptual and semantic endowment" for complex and specialised topics such as what I have been writing consistently at Illusio.

I believe that the English language would be impoverished if we refuse to see that even long words, big words, can be appropriately used, especially if it takes too much difficulty to find a short phrase to replace them. Humans keep coining new words to describe the growing complexity of their world... yet we Singaporeans are linguistic beggars because our national newspapers limit their writers to words not more than 3 syllables or 8 letters long, and our major publishing houses, who believe that the market out there consists of people with the mental capacity of 14-year-olds.

However, when there is a feeling that the writer is deliberately and unnecessarily using difficult language or dropping literary allusions and big names, then it really becomes "bombast".

If I cannot convince my readers that the "difficult" language is necessary and appropriate in my articles, I consider that as a failed attempt at writing and a sign that I need more practice, or at least run one round of editing before posting on the blog. (Which I currently never do. And there, doesn't it actually annoy naysayers more, since I don't need to put in any effort at difficult language?)

One can still come across as natural and unaffected even when writing difficult words.

2. Again, I remind my readers that I choose to write on uncommon topics and offer uncommon viewpoints with uncommon depth.

Think metaphorically, if your writing was a student in a classroom where your readers are other students: In the context of our academic history, your writing would be a "mugger" - The over-achieving high-brow kid which we were all too familiar with in our school days. There is one in almost every classroom.

My point is, these kids are never popular with the other kids. They are viewed either as "spoil-market", a threat, or just simple too weird out by the other kids.

A friend wrote that in his email (and incidentally, he concluded that he still liked my writing :D).

Here's my spin on it: Staying with the same metaphor, I would be the student who realises that one way to succeed would be to differentiate yourself out of the normal market, carve out a niche for yourself, play for different stakes, play a different game from the rest of the classmates.

Of course, it's entirely possible that the rest of the class would mis-recognise the strategy and insist that I'm "spoiling the competition", but the fact is, I'm no longer competing with them, or even for the same prizes as them.

I would probably be - and I have been, on occasion - the student who disagrees with the GP tutor and uni lecturer to present a counter-argument that is nevertheless logically and theoretically reasonable, and hence still ace the assignment. Of course, that doesn't stop the real "muggers" and the rest of the students to give the standard, acceptable, and approved answers and get their aces (or other grades, as dictated by the normal distribution for interchangeable and indistinguishable products).

I'm one of those who are horribly disappointed with the "new and improved" Straits Times Weekend Edition and the intellectual poverty it imposes on Singaporeans. Read the NYT Weekend Edition, and you'll see why it literally takes one an entire weekend to parse through the very thoughtful and thorough news, commentaries, and reviews. Time taken to read ST on Sunday: 10 minutes, inclusive of the Life! section.

Why do I write? I'm sure you would've read my first blog. Given that, there isn't any discrepency between what I write and how I write it, really...

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