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Being published concurrently with this very op-ed you are reading right now is what can only be called a horrendously self-indulgent bit of fluff in the variety section entitled “The Op-Ed Writer.” The writer of this piece has, through a terribly incoherent medium, tried to lay out her critiques of opinions and editorials, with a particular nod to my writing in particular. Through some terrible amalgamation of beat poetry and Seussian rhyme she attempts to decry the entire practice of writing opinions and editorials. In this piece, I shall be explaining my own thoughts about this writer in the variety section who has published what can only be called slander against the honest work we do in the op-ed section.
The issue at hand is that art speaks to one’s emotions and aesthetic associations among other vague and irrational areas that we feel connected to. The variety section is the place for variety, which is not a bad thing on its face, but inherently promotes a certain incoherence. There is nothing wrong with this, of course, but it is going to completely miss the point in terms of clearly expressing ideas. Art can teach things in depths that clear writing like my own cannot, but art does not often change one’s mind, say, on a correct political policy. Art does not lay out the concrete facts of the matter. On the other hand, op-eds can in fact do all of these things.
Generally, op-eds are very straightforward in laying out the facts and perspectives. There is a competitive aspect to them which pushes all writers from many backgrounds, affinities and allegiances to represent themselves the best they can. Op-ed writers want to be honest, thoughtful, well-informed and likeable because that is what the reader of an op-ed should, in theory, be looking for. This is not to say that op-eds can’t be bad. They certainly can. Op-eds can too be full of so much fluff that certain writers may as well be like that movie you love and have watched dozens of times. For the reader, it stops being about reaching for new perspectives and nuance at a certain point. It can become something done for comfort, familiarity or identity. Sometimes all your brain can take is that same movie; sometimes you need that same movie for comfort and sometimes you want to share that movie that’s basically become core to your very being.
The fact I want to drive home is that you might take something away from this op-ed you’re reading, but that “The Op-Ed Writer” likely leaves very little to take with you unless you are a very particular kind of reader. The fact is that my writing style actually opens up a big enough tent that a whole multitude of people can read this and maybe think a bit more deeper and with a bit more nuance about the merits of op-ed writing, as opposed to more artistic work. To take something away from “The Op-Ed Writer”, it seems that you must have very deep knowledge of word association and etymology. It would obviously help if you, like the author presumably wastes her time doing, read the entire thesaurus and dictionary cover to cover a few times. It’s not that I don’t use large or obscure words myself, but they are in unintimidating contexts, so you might just look up that word or two that went over your head and have learned that much more from my op-ed. Op-ed writing is not about spoon feeding opinions to the largest tent possible, but casting the right net depending on your capabilities as a writer.
These balances that an op-ed writer must have in mind is, in a certain sense, an art in itself. What art is not about balance, patterns and judgment? The low tier poet who wrote “The Op-Ed Writer” doesn’t seem to even fit these simple sensibilities. This poet writes in the most gratuitous style that I’ve seen to date. Not only is it gratuitous, but it’s the most base use of fanciful language I’ve ever read. It’s chock full of angst and innuendo of the most low-brow sort. I’m surprised the editors of the Lawrentian as well as Lawrence University as a whole think it is okay to publish such uncalvinistic garbage. The Lawrentian should reflect the best attitudes and work that our class has to provide and the writer of “The Op-Ed Writer” in no way makes the cut in my humble opinion.