or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Monday, January 29, 2007

Born to be Wilde

As regular reader Tony Pius wrote about yesterday's posting,

Nothing brightens one's day like a short burst of Oscar Wilde.

That's for sure!

An anonymous review of "The Importance of Being Earnest" contained the following observations:

I have no doubt in my mind that the chief reason why the St. James piece proves so amusing is because it is so completely dominated by its author. That is to say, there is no attempt in it at characterization, but all the dramatis personae from the heroes down to the butlers, talk pure and undiluted Wildese. Whether we ought to be amused by this is quite another question; and whether we shall long continue to be amused by it is exceedingly doubtful; but, for the present, all London will flock to the St. James's; and Oscar will reap his reward. He would be wise, in my opinion, to make his hay while the sun shines. The public taste of 'Oscarisms' is not likely to be a lasting one.

I'm surprised that the author questioned whether people ought to be amused by "pure and undiluted Wildese": couldn't he simply have trusted his taste and laughed along with the rest of the audience? But the last observation is true enough, at least from a practical point of view: how exhausting it would be to try to trade quips as finely honed as Wilde's!


101 Dumbest Moments in Business from 2006. The list is hell to slog through, because, unsurprisingly, every element of the list is on a separate web page--that way they can force you to look at a lot more ads. (That horrible trend ought to have been on another list, "101 Most Unpleasant New Business Trends". Slate.com does the same thing: where every story once fit onto a single page, even short articles are now routinely chopped into two or more pages, the better to shove more advertising at you. Fortunately, I've got software installed that keeps virtually all ads out of my browser. Without it, I'd hardly be able to stand the Web--all that flashing and flickering and intrusiveness.)

Back to the Business 2.0 article. Item 63 concerns a company called TextTrust, which bills itself as "The Web Site Spell Checker". Unfortunately, they didn't submit their own promotional materials to the process:

TextTrust, a company that uses a combination of software and human editors to scour the Web for spelling errors, issues a press release on the most commonly misspelled words it has found "on the 16 million we pages it has spell-checked over the past year."

No, a spell-checker won't catch "we pages". A properly attuned human might. Might.


Blogger Frank said...

While Wilde was undoubtedly a witty conversationalist, I think we do him a disservice by thinking he was nothing more than a bon mot-machine one could easily tire of. His writings are finely honed and polished works; as a professional and an artist, he would settle for nothing less. Thus the "Wildese" that bombards one from the page or the stage was carefully crafted and meticulously edited. They didn't just appear in a puff of smoke over cocktails. So, while I'm sure he was wittier and quicker with a jest than most, it certainly wasn't ALL he was.

Monday, January 29, 2007 11:08:00 PM  

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