Comment: The Clear and the Murky

If polar opposites co-exist and are part of the order of things, then there is no surprise to find the extremes of clarity vs. ambiguity in a person’s writing.

A story can have an ambiguous ending, one that effectively leaves the reader uncertain of a dramatic outcome. But that’s not what I mean.

I mean in the sense of language and composition.  Strings of words, whether prose or poetry, can make perfect sense and at the same time evoke ambiguity. On the other hand, word strings written either intentionally vague or accidentally vague as a result of poor word choice or sloppy syntax, evoke confusion. Or they represent a surrender to clarity in the name of artful understatement, modern communicative hipness, laziness, or indifference.

I include myself in the list of occasional perpetrators. Sometimes I am not sure if my background as a technical writer – one who carried the war banner of “Be Clear and Concise” – is (speaking of extremes) a blessing or a curse.

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