Friday, 28 October 2011

Words and Phrases that Make Me Think of Pseuds Corner

I don't know why but whenever I come across the word 'shard' or its plural, I hear a distant alarm bell, and see in my mind's eye a sign that says, 'There be pretentions here'. Perhaps it's unfair, but the word does seem to exercise a peculiar magnetism for writers teetering on the edge of ravines in which thickets of purple prose are lurking (sorry, that in itself tended a bit to the purple - it's so easy to slip into. In fact before I descend further, I'm going to pick up my few remaining shards of language and slope off. Goodbye).

PS via Will Self, whose article, (which, the reader learns at the end, can be read in a longer form elsewhere - although why anyone would want to put themselves through any more of the harrowing stuff, I don't know; the article is one of the few cases I've come across where a writer's brave decision to be 'unflinching' might possibly have been revised to allow him to be just a bit - or even quite a lot - more flinching), I discovered thanks to Frank Wilson, I learn that London is about to come into possession of its own sparkling shard. Is this an indication of the city's now terminal decadence or just a sign that my prejudice is completely out of step with the times?


  1. But it works for "the shards of Narsil," don't you think? There is certainly a really effective prose-place somewhere between Raymond Carver and ... I don't know ... the purple people. But I find my tolerance for purplish prose is higher than that of most(maybe as a result of my teenaged love-affair with grand tales told grandly), even though I am a great lover of effective brevity.

  2. If you will Google "MongoDB is web scale", you can find a bit of nerdish mockery directed against the naive programmer who thinks that

    "Shards are the secret ingredient in the web scale sauce. They just work."

    Whether or not they are saucy, "shard" and "sharding" do have a definite meaning in the database world.

    However, it had escaped my notice that the word was finding its way into purple prose, or at least just uphill from thickets of the same.

    The MongoDB jape is a bit crude, by the way.

  3. Oh dear, Chris, big admission coming up - I thought Lord of the Rings was boring. I was only about 9 when I tried to read it, having quite enjoyed The Hobbit. There didn't seem to be many laughs, so I went back to my beloved Nigel Molesworth.
    I suspect if it has anything to do with programming, its crudeness will pass me by, I'm afraid, George, together with any other meaning it may contain, but will give it a go.

  4. There is far too much peril (and far too many uses of the word "peril") in LotR for it to serve up laughs, it's true. Those books got the whole literary ball rolling for me, but I was a teenager when I read them. I've sinced moved on, but Tolkien still holds a place in my heart, even if I can see how the books could bore others to death. No hards feelings. (Maybe I'll look into this Molesworth stuff. Never heard of it. Maybe my boys would enjoy it?)

  5. Chris - here is a small sample: