Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Joseph Conrad Mirror of the Sea

Joseph Conrad, Mirror of the Sea:
"Now the moral side of an industry, productive or unproductive, the redeeming and ideal aspect of this bread-winning, is the attainment and preservation of the highest possible skill on the part of the craftsmen. Such skill, the skill of technique, is more than honesty; it is something wider, embracing honesty and grace and rule in an elevated and clear sentiment, not altogether utilitarian, which may be called the honor of labor. It is made up of accumulated tradition, kept alive by individual pride, rendered exact by professional opinion, and, like the higher arts, it is spurred on and sustained by discriminating praise."


  1. A modern editor would force Conrad to reduce his comment to one or two terse statements. TV Media programs would yank the microphone away before he finished his first sentence. Thanks for a fine, unintended laugh.

    Although I have only read one or two of Conrad's works, the "Mirror of the Sea" not included, I enjoyed his writing. Perhaps the craftsmanship in his words demonstrates what is missing from our short attention span today. Rather than look for twitterments, we should look for comments filled with thoughtfulness and craftsmanship.

    Thank you for leading me to some double-edge thinking. I am a little sharper for having visited your Blog today. Now, I must dust off that old Joseph Conrad paperback I have been meaning to read for years. For a seaman, he had a way with words.

  2. The advantage of extreme brevity is that the reader can use his or her imagination as to what the author intended. Tweet is a good medium for those who have little to say that makes any difference as to how the reader might interpret it.

    I know a modern editor would clip most of what Conrad said. There was some courtship in it... as though Conrad was wanting to win something from the reader in addition to his or her attention.

    But, I don't think we human beings have outgrown our interest in being courted by an author's interest in the clarity of our understanding.

    That last sentence is 139 characters, including spaces. Just the right length for a tweet, but for one space left.