"[T]he form and rhythm of sentences communicates as much meaning as their factual content, whether we’re conscious of it or not. In 1863, when General Grant took the city of Vicksburg, Mississippi, the last hindrance to free passage of Union supplies along the river, President Lincoln wrote in a letter to be read at a public meeting: “The father of waters again goes unvexed to the sea.” It’s a poem of a sentence, “The father of waters” and “unvexed to the sea” perfectly balanced on the unexpected pivot of “again goes” rather than “goes again”, and all in the service of a metaphor that figures the Union as an inevitable force and the Confederacy as a blight on nature, without mentioning either. If cadence had no content, “Union supplies lines are now clear” would have the same power. And what is obvious in rhetoric is true in literature, as well.
Take the first sentence of David Foster Wallace’s story, “The Depressed Person”: “The depressed person was in terrible and unceasing emotional pain, and the impossibility of sharing or articulating this pain was itself a component of the pain and a contributing factor in its essential horror.” By mixing heightened feeling and unrelenting repetition (“pain”, “pain”, “pain”) with a Latinate, clinically declarative voice (“component”, “contributing factor”), Wallace delivers his readers right where he wants them: inside the hellish disconnect between psychic pain and the modern means of describing it. The rhythm of the sentence is perfectly matched to its positive content. Indeed, from a writer’s point of view the two aren’t separate. If we could separate meaning from sound, we’d read plot summaries rather than novels.
---David McKenna on the changing face of men in movies
---Black Swan's visual effects
---William Martell describes the writing process for Robin Hood
---Skidelsky explores the limitations of fact-based fiction:
"What has prompted this flood of fact-based storytelling? The reasons for these kinds of cultural shift are never easy to pinpoint, but this one surely has a lot to do with changing ideas about privacy and truth. Over the past decade or so we have, as a culture, become much less attached to the idea that certain aspects of life should remain private. An increasingly intrusive press regards it as its job to sniff out the secrets of the rich and famous. Respect towards those in positions of authority has dramatically declined. The result is that a terrain to which entry was once largely barred – the private lives of those in the public gaze – has become accessible. And this has given new licence to artists. Even a decade ago, it would have been hard to imagine a film like The Queen – dealing with the relationship between a living monarch and a serving prime minister – being made. Now finding yourself in a novel or film is one of the hazards of being famous.This scaling back of the private sphere has coincided with something else: a growing belief that it is in personal relationships and feelings that the important truths about the world are to be found. While the concept of a public facade has always existed, it has never held greater sway than it does today. Most people intuitively feel that the majority of what is reported – in newspapers, history books, government documents – is false, or only partly true, and that the important stuff happens behind closed doors, or inside people's heads. This is reflected in the way the New Labour epoch is discussed, with an overriding focus on the relationships between the protagonists and, often, their psychological states.Yet this belief in a private domain where ultimate truth lies creates a problem. For we can be fed endless information – diaries and memoirs, leaked diplomatic documents – but none will necessarily tell us what went on. The apparatus of factual exposure habitually falls short. This, of course, is where art comes in. Artists may not be better acquainted with the truth than anyone else, but they can do something that others can't: describe plausibly what might have happened."