Remember the essays you had to write essay about yourself conclusion high school? Or at least, how I write one.
Who cares about symbolism in Dickens? How did things get this way? It seemed the essence of what scholars did. Aristotle in his own era. But schools change slower than scholarship. But for obvious reasons no one wanted to give that answer. And so began the study of modern literature.
English literature in the 1820s. 1876, and Oxford not till 1885. Germany in the late 19th century. Johns Hopkins in 1876, the new model spread rapidly. Writing was one of the casualties. But how do you do research on composition? The closest thing seemed to be English literature.
700 years ago, fascinating and urgently needed work. I think lawyers would be the first to admit. The real problem is that you can’t change the question. I need to talk the matter over. At the very least I must have explained something badly. I was saying as well. But the aim is never to be convincing per se.
I can convince smart readers I must be near the truth. Why not just sit and think? I sat down to write them. In a real essay you’re writing for yourself. They tend to peter out. Many published essays peter out in the same way.
This group says one thing. But don’t get mad at us. An essay has to come up with answers. They don’t always, of course. I’m sometimes accused of meandering. In defend-a-position writing that would be a flaw.
There you’re not concerned with truth. As you might expect, it winds all over the place. But it doesn’t do this out of frivolity. The river’s algorithm is simple. At each step, flow down. For the essayist this translates to: flow interesting. Of all the places to go next, choose the most interesting.