tagryn (tagryn) wrote,

Thoughts on long-form critique essays, maximization self-help, etc.

(modified comment originally written to https://siderea.dreamwidth.org/1333601.html)

Typically long-form critique essays have a bad tendency to devolve quickly into strawman arguments and misrepresenting the side they're criticizing; contributions on Medium seem notorious for this. Its also one of the weaknesses of the unedited author that they typically can't see when they're going off the rails, or don't care, as long as they find what they're writing to be satisfying and cathartic.

So, based on past experience, that's pretty much my expectation I open an essay or blog entry and see something of any substantial length. The worst offenders are what I call "the wall of text," where it seems like the author believes that flooding the reader with words will bludgeon them over the head enough that anyone reading it will be forced to come around to their way of thinking...and are apparently oblivious that it has the opposite effect, and that parsimony is by far the better method. I sometimes wonder if the WoT writer is using it as a kind of freeform therapy, because it doesn't seem like these excessively long contributions are being written to persuade anyone else.

Even for the decent long ones that are out there, I still think that fairly representing a side or view that one thinks is wrong is very hard, and frankly beyond the capabilities of most writers; that's why I tend to learn more in a back-and-forth between two persons who genuinely hold opposing viewpoints, as opposed to having a single writer try and summarize what they think another person *might* say.

I also would like to have seen a lot more in the essay Siderea cites on how the version of pop-Stoicism that it mentions (Holiday, Ferriss, etc.) is using a generally solid philosophical viewpoint to promote the contemporary self-help underlying mantra that one must MAXIMIZE at all times: MAXIMIZE productivity, MAXIMIZE happiness, MAXIMIZE potential, etc...which helps sell books, seminars, and so on, and so seems at its heart just a way to maximize profit and promotion, a symptom of the gig economy.

A more philosophical asking of >why< and >whether< this hunger for maximizing in all ways is a good or worthwhile pursuit (or who it truly profits) probably wouldn't sell nearly as well. I also think the recent interest in mindfulness and meditation-light that seems much more prevalent today than pop-Stoicism suffers from the same limitation of focusing more on technique and usefulness, rather than asking the deeper "why" questions that philosophy is supposedly there to address.

Crossposted from http://tagryn.dreamwidth.org/237730.html where there are comment count unavailable comments. Comment wherever you prefer; anonymous comments are allowed on DW only
Tags: philosophy

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