Friday, 5 March 2010

Principles of the Weighty Tome, or How to Write Fat Books

Principles of the Weighty Tome, or How to Write Fat Books

  1. The whole composition must be permeated with a protracted and wordy exposition of the initial plan.
  2. Terms are to be included for conceptions that, except in this definition, appear nowhere in the whole book.
  3. Conceptual distinctions laboriously arrived at in the text are to be obliterated again in the relevant notes.
  4. For concepts treated only in their general significance, examples should be given; if, for example, machines are mentioned, all the different kinds of machines should be enumerated.
  5. Everything that is known a priori about an object is to be consolidated by an abundance of examples.
  6. Relationships that could be represented graphically must be expounded in words. Instead of being represented in a genealogical tree, for example, all family relationships are to be enumerated and described.
  7. A number of opponents all sharing the same argument should each be refuted individually.

in Walter Benjamin, 'One-Way Street' (selections), in Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings, trans. Edmund Jephcott, ed & intr Peter Demetz (New York: Schocken Books, 1986; orig. Harcourt Brace, 1978), p. 79.

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