a steady diet of syllables
But there’s a difference between shedding light on the stickier points of theoretical discourse and straining for an elevated style through verbiage.
If, for example, you’re trying to tell me that Bob drove his car up the street, you could certainly do worse than type: “Bob drove his car up the street.”
“Bob operated his automotive conveyance across the asphalt boulevard” is not an improvement on that sentence.
Now some people have turned weirdly over-elaborated prose into an art form. I love my friend Mark's blog, for example, but sometimes his sentences do make my eyes hurt—as does his "tendency" to put certain "terms" in "quotes". That's his shtick, though, and I get it.
Other folks show every indication of being fine writers, but fall prey nonetheless to trying to make their prose sound sorta rarefied. Example: I'm working on a piece for the CP about Kristen Hileman's Anne Truitt show at the Hirshhorn. Now do not get me wrong here: I'm a big Kristen fan; I've enjoyed seeing and thinking about the show and reading the catalogue essay, too. But every now and again, I stumble over a stray sentence that strikes me as a little fussy.
Example, from page 15: “The latter part of Truitt’s convalescence included exercise courses at Highland Hospital, where interactions with patients heightened her interest in her undergraduate concentration.”
That's sort of like saying: Truitt’s recovery included physical therapy at Highland Hospital, where talking with patients fed her interest in psychology.
Mostly I think it's "undergraduate concentration" that grates on me here, and seems like an example of elegant variation.
Of course, I’ve been brow-beaten by editors over this sort of thing for years—I’ve definitely been guilty of EV. And I know I have loosed some truly pretentious sentences on the world. I may even relapse now and again. I'm not making promises.
But, man, I’m penitent, and trying to spread the gospel.