Friday, 05 October 2007

Accelerating Evolution; also, More on the Talkiness of Talks, and the Terrible People Who Read Essays Aloud I've posted a copy of yesterday's talk—"Accelerating Evolution: Social Reform and the Baldwin Effect in Jack London's The Iron Heel and Before Adam"—for interested parties to read/discuss/mock. The usual caveats apply: when I write talks, I write talks; I don't simply read aloud something meant to read alone. So you'll find simplification—in particular as regards the physiological basis of the Baldwin effect, as pointed out by Vincent Fitzgerald in the Q & A—and the frequent repetition of characters introduced and concepts established earlier. It doesn't sit well on the page. I know that. You can't keep as much in your head listening as you can reading. You can't control the pace of a speaker. You can't re-read or linger over paragraphs. More and more, I'm convinced that people who read essays aloud are doing so to satisfy their own intellectual vanity: "My work is difficult and impressive. You're going to find it difficult to understand. That is because I am impressive." And difficult. Don't forget difficult. Because if you're one of these people, you're being difficult for the sake of being difficult. You think it makes you impressive. It doesn't. It makes you impolite. It betrays your indolence. If you want to communicate with your audience, you have to format the points you make in your written work to the media in which you're presenting them. If you don't want to communicate, you're rude (wasting the audience's time to feel the hum of your ego inflating) and likely lazy (as politeness takes effort). More on the conference itself shortly.

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