mr. fish, you write good book

“It is often said that the job of language is to report or reflect or mirror reality, but the power of language is greater and more dangerous than that; it shapes reality, not of course in a literal sense—the world is one thing, words another—but in the sense that the order imposed on a piece of the world by a sentence is only one among innumerable possible orders. Think about what you do when you revise a sentence: You add something, you delete something, you substitute one tense for another, you rearrange clauses and phrases; and with each change, the ‘reality’ offered to your readers changes. An attempt to delineate in words even the smallest moment—a greeting in the street, the drinking of a cup of coffee, the opening of a window—necessarily leaves out more than it includes, whether you write a sentence of twenty words or two thousand. There is always another detail or an alternative perspective or a different emphasis that might have been brought in and, by being brought in, altered the snapshot of reality you are presenting.”

from How to Write a Sentence and How to Read One, by Stanley Fish

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