Robert Pinsky offers up Sir Walter Raleigh's poem "The Lie" in this week's Slate poem selection and offers up a cogent argument for the ability of the poet , when provoked and inclined, to puncture pretension, artifice and reinforced falsehood with more precision and pointedness than a mere counter assertion could. In another era, perhaps, in a bygone day, when writers opposed to one another's notions of what constitutes justice and moral righteousness had to wait for however long it took for letters, pamphlets, books, the like, to be written, processed, and delivered.
The period gave the conflicting bards time to hone their craft and compose the rhymes , with all their indicting hooks and barbs, so that they had a sharpness that would cause the deepest wound. The gift of this was a spirited exchange, a correspondence of heated verbal dexterity that could be enjoyed and examined years beyond the relevance of the original topic; this is the literature we parse in college, these are the examples we are supposed to appreciate to learn our rhetorical craft.
he art of the inspired exchange of views, seems lost on the Internet , as one is hard pressed to read an otherwise interesting article and not find a comment stream that is less discussion or debate than it is a boiling stew of vulgarity. It goes beyond the pointed use of F Bombs for added emphasis or colloquial texture, as that word and it's barnyard cousins often times are the conversation, verbatim. One might consider their own adventures into the comment streams of many a web forum and consider what happened to all those fine cadences it seems everyone said they loved so much in graduate school; these were the syntaxes that were supposed to give our oppositions to bad faith the clear, cutting sweep of Truth.
There are a few exceptions, truth be told, not every web zine readership is composed of aggravated boobs typing their congealed rage with clubbed fingertips; Slate and Salon , among others, seem to inspire generally thoughtful responses. Still, the loud , baggy monsters are out there, cursing their own eyes for seeing the light. Small wonder, it seems, that a good number of better online forum contributors have , seemingly, gone elsewhere. There are better things to do than continually lean into that sucker punch you know is waiting for you.