The Syntax of Sorcery (2012)
Kontextus: Certain individual words do possess more pitch, more radiance, more shazam! than others, but it's the way words are juxtaposed with other words in a phrase or sentence that can create magic. Perhaps literally. The word "grammar," like its sister word "glamour," is actually derived from an old Scottish word that meant "sorcery." When we were made to diagram sentences in high school, we were unwittingly being instructed in syntax sorcery, in wizardry. We were all enrolled at Hogwarts. Who knew?
When a culture is being dumbed down as effectively as ours is, its narrative arts (literature, film, theatre) seem to vacillate between the brutal and the bland, sometimes in the same work. The pervasive brutality in current fiction – the death, disease, dysfunction, depression, dismemberment, drug addiction, dementia, and dreary little dramas of domestic discord – is an obvious example of how language in exploitative, cynical or simply neurotic hands can add to the weariness, the darkness in the world. Less apparent is that bland writing — timid, antiseptic, vanilla writing – is nearly as unhealthy as the brutal and dark. Instead of sipping, say, elixir, nectar, tequila, or champagne, the reader is invited to slurp lumpy milk or choke on the author's dust bunnies.