Thursday, April 2, 2009

Business Speak

Have you ever read an essay written by and for a business person? Yeah, yeah, define business person. I mean someone who works for a corporation with more than a couple of employees, the people who think millions of dollars are pocket change in the big scheme of things. Well, I have read this sort of writing and I cannot say I'm hooked. There are writers in that world who understand how a reader gains understanding--by a shared language, shared experience, mutual respect. Fortunately, my contacts in the business world are of this sort. However, even the good writers among them run along the edge of the cliff and can easily fall into the abyss of the abstract. It's much easier to speak in generalities and unarguable vagaries than to dig up the sensory-specific language that would allow one to determine the truth of a statement.

Lately, in addition to corporate prose, I have been reading history and criticism, equally dangerous mountains to climb. And I wonder if anything I read is as urgent as the information I get by opening the front door to check on the weather. If I see storm clouds building, I'll need a coat and the dog will get wet. No hidden messages there. Nor in the noisy ducks celebrating the return of water to their recently dry pond. Noting vague about their chatter. This concern with getting my information first hand--or as some would say, experientially--comes from the poet/storyteller state of mind. Everything in life is mundane, until I look closely and think that no other person is exactly like me, no other dog is exactly like the shaggy terrier dancing on his hind legs at the prospect of a walk. We need business, we need critics who can explain the larger issues of literature, but we also need mallards nattering just down the hill, and the smell of rain about to make them happy. 

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