The False Façade of “Smart” Writing

Complex != Smart

Insecure writers, by which I mean writers insecure in themselves, not in their writing, have two nice and easy fallback strategies to compensate for a lack of critical thinking skills and an inflated sense of their own intellect.  Good thing for them that so many readers make the same mistakes and find pseudo-intellectual works a useful tool to demonstrate to their fellow midwits that they are among the better class of reader.

Complexity is Not Clever

By Jove, Pythagoras was right!

Anyone that’s ever dealt with higher level mathematics knows that the guys at the top of that particular field spend a great deal of time searching for ways to reduce complexities in their proofs.  A concept that can be proved using 100 pages of matrices and high order differential equations is nice, but it’s so much more satisfying when the same concept can be proved using three simple equations?  In the same way, a door stopper of a novel that chases six independent plot threads that interweave all over three continents to bring them together in one big final resolution can be satisfying, but it’s so much more satisfying when the same concepts and themes can be fully explored within the confines of a single story.  Some of the most powerful mathematical proofs are the most beautiful.

Assembling complex tales require a lot of effort, but so does digging a ditch.  We instantly recognize that effort doesn’t translate to brains in the latter, so why do so many want to believe that spending inordinate amounts of time and effort bolting extraneous details onto a simple exploration of a theme translates to proof of higher order intelligence?  Particularly when the authors who brag of their epic achievements typically go on to brag about how hard it was to craft the story and track all of the little details.  A case could be made that a straight-head writer who bangs out prose and plots by the seat of his pants would need eidetic memory and a level of creativity bordering on insane to build a tale like that, but most writers feel the need to humble brag about how extraordinarily hard they worked on their masterpiece, how much effort it took, and how long it took.

If you’re working that hard, maybe you aren’t as smart as you think you are, ace.

Adult Does Not Mean Smart

Another sleight of hand that the midwits like to pull to justify an inflated sense of worth is equating “adult” with “smart”, and it’s just as much bunk as the first.  This is not to say that all adult media is always dumb, just that there exists a lot of space in the venn diagram where those two terms do not overlap.

Hell, most of the “adult” novels I’ve read were half-witted excuses meant to justify the author’s own inability to grasp the basics of morality, duty, and honor.  But the nihilists among us have adopted a self-satisfied smugness that all too many people on the left hand side of the intelligence bell curve mistake for genuine ability, and they at least have enough cunning to wrap their bleak and ill considered worldview up in a nice little bow of “live for today and let tomorrow care for the consequences”.

But as for me, I’ll take genuine wisdom and intellect over the feigned superiority proclaimed with great volume and repetition by those who mistake influence and connections over talent and skill.

Even if that precludes me from winning any major awards or ever being listed in the annals of woke history.

About Jon Mollison

Jon Mollison was weaned at the literary knee of Tolkein, Howard, Moore, and Burroughs. He spent decades wandering in the wilderness of modern genre fiction, wondering when the magic and wonder went out of the world of dragons and space ships. In his darkest hour, he encountered a wise man who handed him the open secrets to crafting works that emulate the stories of the great authors who built the genre. They are easily summarized in but two words: Regress Harder. Now one of the twelve champions of the Pulp Revolution, his self-published works represent a more direct lineage to the tales of action, mystery, romance, virtue, and pure unalloyed adventure than the bland imitations churned out by New York City publishing houses in recent decades.
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