An author named Karl Ove Knausgaard once claimed, according to the New York Times, that he needed at least 300 pages to state even the simplest truth. It’s been reported that Marcel Proust, in writing Remembrance of Things Past, often spent months on a single sentence, with long appendages attached to his hand-written pages.
I consider both of these habits to be learning disabilities.
Even before the age of instant communications, brevity and pith were highy admired. The Gettysburg Address was written on the back of an envelope and took a little more than two minutes to deliver (try it). Jefferson’s “We hold these truths to be self-evident” are just eight words prefatory to the greatest document in the history of government. I refuse to accept “an hour’s meeting” because there seems to be a Parkinsonian inevitability to fill up the hour when I can usually resolve the issue in five minutes.
Get to the point. It’s invaluable. If you’re asked a “yes or no” question, don’t respond with a disquisition. This is Monday Morning Memo, not the Monday Morning tome.
By the way, I’ve never heard of Karl Ove Knausgaard, and I thought Proust’s 3,000-page À la recherche du temps perdu, a turgid bore. Coincidence? I think not.
The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending; and to have the two as close together as possible.” — George Burns
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