Consider the Lobster and Other Essays
David F. Wallace’s Fight for Animal Rights in His Work Consider the Lobster
Animal-rights’ is an important, but touchy, subject. No one wants to feel that they are intentionally doing something wrong or harmful; which can possibly include eating an animal that was killed specifically for their consumption. In a Gourmet article issued in August of 2004, readers are spiked with controversial, thought-provoking ideas about animal rights. They are provided with the example of how lobsters are cooked alive at a festival in Maine every year. David F. Wallace effectively grasps the reader in Consider the Lobster by his use of pathos in his diction, quotes, and thought-provoking structure about how and why it is wrong to treat animals inhumanely, but is ineffective in supporting this idea, and shows logos in his tone, because he does not provide solutions to treating them this way, and changes his diction about his views towards animal’s rights.
In an effectively powerful way, Wallace shows how treating animals inhumanely for consumption is wrong by simply posing the question, “Is it alright to boil a sentient creature alive just for our gustatory pleasure?” (Wallace, 60). By providing this question, he makes people really think about the issue of inhumane animal treatment by using examples of pathos. When he poses this question, people are given the image of an animal being boiled alive, and it instantly connects with their emotion and creates mental images. Wallace talks about how the Maine Lobster Festival is a festival that publicly cooks and consumes live animals right in front of people. He appeals to Gourmet reader’s minds when he compares the Maine Lobster festival to a theoretical one, “Try to imagine a Nebraska Beef Festival at which part of the festivities is watching trucks pull up and the live cattle get driven down the ramp and slaughtered right there…” (Wallace, 62). His premise is very strong and appeals to the readers of Gourmet magazine because it compares the Lobster festival in a parallel way with any other animal in a similar situation. He shows us that for some reason it would be a more horrific sight to be able to pick out a cow rather than a lobster, and watch it be slaughtered and cooked right before the consumer’s eyes. He adds a quote from an outside source, “Lobsters are extraordinarily sensitive. To me, eating a lobster is out of the question” (Wallace 60). By including this quote stated by Mary Tyler Moore, David Wallace adds power to his argument on why treating even lobsters is wrong. He shows that others support the animal rights aspect of his argument and that it is a big controversial topic amongst most humans.
Using logos, Wallace begins to contradict his feelings about animal-rights, and is ineffective in supporting his fist ideas. He does not give ideas on how to solve problems about how animals are treated wrongly before they are set on the dinner table. In the article Wallace states, “Before we go any further, let’s acknowledge that the questions of whether and how different kinds of animals feel pain, and of whether and why it might be justifiable to inflict pain on them in order to eat them, turn out to be extremely complex and difficult” (Wallace, 62). Although his strategy here may be to show that their pain may not be intense enough to hurt them that much when being boiled alive, he shows that he has no proof of the pain they may feel. Here he begins to explain that lobsters may feel pain differently than any other animal, but also that it is unknown what kind of pain they feel or how intense it may be. He is only making the reader think about how animals feel pain in different ways, but no solution to his initial claim on how terrible it must be for that dying animal. Throughout this paragraph, he describes different nerve receptors they have, and what kind of pain they could possibly feel, as he also does on the following page, “…it’s more that they feel it (pain) but don’t feel anything about it…There is, after all, a difference between (1) pain as a purely neurological event, and (2) actual suffering” (Wallace, 63). He continues to show how pain could be inflicted on them and what they feel, but no ideas on how to solve the issue of animal cruelty that he rants on about. On the very last page of his rhetoric, he writes, “…I have an obvious selfish interest in this belief, since I like to eat certain kinds of animals and want to be able to keep doing it, and I have not succeeded in working out any sort of personal ethical system in which the belief is truly defensible instead of just selfishly convenient” (Wallace, 64). Here he is even admitting to not showing a real explanation at what could possibly be done to justify the wrong treatment of killing animals for consumption. He is showing that he is ineffective in providing a way to solve the problem itself, and changes his diction to one that is opposite of his original argument.
Throughout David F. Wallace’s, Consider the Lobster, it is shown that this man obviously cares enough about animals to have written a seven-page rant about it for Gourmet magazine. He begins his article using diction that shows that he feels bad for these poor lobsters that are cooked alive. He later changes his diction and shows only possibilities of how they may experience pain. Although he is effective in showing his concern for lobsters and other animals that may be treated inhumanely, he is ineffective in providing any sort of solution to how this problem could be fixed. He is almost ironic in his words because he preaches about why this is wrong. Initially, the article is one that supports animal’s rights, and questions if it is savage to treat them wrongfully and intentionally inflict pain on them. By the end of the article, Wallace, it seems, changes his mind on how he feels about this topic by admitting he has a “selfish interest” in eating animals, even considering the consequences they wrongly experience.
“Consider the Lobster” by David Foster Wallace
Lobster is one of my much-loved seafood dishes due to its delicate rich flavored meat, however, after reading this article I have a change of mind. “Consider the Lobster” by David Foster Wallace is a controversial article to whether or not it is humane to drop a live lobster in a pot of boiling water. He brought up the question is it right to boil a live lobster just for one’s desire, quite thought-provoking. Thus, he had convinced me to his viewpoints on logos, ethos, and pathos. I believe Wallace uses description to deliberate the meaning of pain to convince and gain my heart he includes definitions about taxonomical terms and references to prove his point while he compares and contrast different viewpoints on this specific matter. In order for Wallace to get his point across in the first paragraph he described what Main Lobster Festival was, he expressed it in the first person which allowed me to see stuff from his perspective and to understand how he felt towards this subject.
In the article, it’s evident Wallace tends to show pathos the most, where he includes foot and end notes voicing his opinion and stance on a precise segment of the article which allows him to bring a new perspective up. To get his stance across he uses a lot of rhetorical strategies that I myself had to contemplate. His strategies made me ponder on several other viewpoints such as the lobsters, chefs, and meat lovers. Wallace captures the use of pathos in a way that would be very convincing as he compared and contrasted the lobsters to humans. He drew me in when he stated, “the lobster will sometimes cling to the container’s sides or even to hook its claw over the kettle’s rim like a person trying to keep from going over the edge of the roof. Giving me a sense of remorse for the lobster as if I were the creature being placed into a pot of boiling water.
In addition, he compares the Main Lobster Festival to Nebraska beef Festival. he states a few of the festivities but the one he emphasized most on was “watching trucks pull up and the live cattle get driven down the ramp and slaughtered right there” screening that image in my head I naturally had the tendency to feel guilty which was Wallace’s main point to why is it that one feels bad for the cattle, but not the lobster, there is not a difference in my eyes. Furthermore, that is when Wallace introduced me to the ethos side of the argument where he sways me that it is, in fact, inhumane to boil a lobster alive when he stated “It is difficult not to sense that they’re unhappy, or frightened, even if it’s some rudimentary version of these feelings,” showing we should not judge and treat the lobster better or worse based on what pain level they feel. His perspective made me consider the lobster more just by that consideration.
However, Wallace brings up the argument that one may think they have the rights to eating a lobster because they are not human. Wallace proves this theory that people defends that assumption. At the Main Lobster Festival, there was a” Test Your Lobster IQ Test” conducted where it stated that lobsters have simple nervous systems like those of a worm or grasshopper. He explained a particular case where he questioned a man named dick whose son in law so happens to be a professional lobsterman and one of the Main Eating Tent’s regular suppliers who argues that lobsters are simply just a large sea insect he goes on to say “there’s a part of the brain in people and animal that lets us feel pain and lobsters don’t have these parts” Wallace denies Dick’s son in law beliefs by giving his own insight in his footnote elaborating on why the cerebral cortex in the human brain is actually not what gives experience of pain “ the cerebral cortex is the brain-part that deals with higher faculties like reason, metaphysical self-awareness, language etc.” He goes on to give in his own opinions how pain is experienced by articulating someone accidentally touching a hot stove and yanking there hand back do not involve the cortex the brain is bypassed altogether and all the neurochemical actions take place in the spine.
Not to mention some consider “lobsters are not human” to the motive to why lobsters do not need ethical concern. Which brings me to the conclusion that if lobsters aren’t human neither are cats and dogs. Wallace has me curious as to why is that we humans are defensive when it comes on to cats or abused dog but not a lobster they are all non-human creatures. On the contrary, Wallace began to shift his ideas to Logos which is the “appeal based on logical or reason”. According to precise evidence, lobsters have neurotransmitters that are more similar to those in a human which allows them to register pain.
Do Actions Speak Louder Than Words in Consider the Lobster by David Wallace
In this passage from David Wallace’s Consider the Lobster, there are many deep thoughts ingrained within the passage and the author himself discusses many of his actions with regards to what he is saying. Given this, he is not always recognized for being consistent – at points he will address a section stating something about it and then he seems to act in the opposite manner when continuing on with his footnotes. But do his actions speak louder than his words in this sense or are they just looked upon differently?
He starts off this particular excerpt with a strong sentence stating, “the issues surrounding ‘correctness’ in contemporary American usage are both vexed and highly charged, and that the fundamental questions they involve are ones whose answers have to be literally worked out instead of merely found” (293). This relates back to how actions have some stance with that of words, in that sometimes to better understand what someone is trying to communicate, it is best to experience it yourself. Some of Wallace’s experiences are discussed in the footnotes, particularly ones about how he is a college professor himself, and how he has to engrain information into students proper English the beginning of each semester. But at the end of the day, what he lays out for students could be completely disregard until it pertains to them later on in their life. Wallace kind of critiques Garner for not necessarily connecting with his audience, as Wallace acts in a manner through his passage to make more of an effort to do so.
As readers ourselves, Wallace brings up a strong point when he mentions that, “we regular citizens tend to go to The Dictionary for authoritative guidance. Rarely, however, do we ask ourselves who exactly decides what gets in The Dictionary or what words or spellings or pronunciations get deemed correct” (295). This is a fault of pretty much any person that has used a dictionary, we as a society depend on it when we aren’t clear and just trust what is presented before us. Alongside this, Wallace praises Garner for his creation, then the next he degrades him by critiquing how said words are spelled. He attacks his actions with regards to numbers in the footnotes, when Garner uses numerical symbols for words after “ten”, when Wallace emphasizes he was taught it was correct to physically spell out the number until it reached “nineteen”. At another point right after the quote above, Wallace includes in his footnotes that we do not question what is laid out in front of us, and includes a personal story about how his father is still mad at those who decided decades ago in 1984 that meringue should be spelled the way it is. This creates a discrepancy for what Wallace expresses for readers, where at points they are torn with to side with Wallace himself or with Garner. On one hand, Wallace creates this personal connection or relationship with readers themselves, per say while Garner is distinguished on paper and has his accomplishments with the dictionary he got published. Based off his footnotes, it seems as though Wallace has a great appreciation for Garner and for his work, but he brings into the question of why is what he says what follows for the remaining society. By incorporating these experiences and opinions, Wallace is encouraging readers to not always accept what is plain said, and how people get more out of a simple definition when it relates somehow to them.
As the saying goes, “actions speak louder than words”, but it is clear that this is not always the case with this given passage. David Wallace uses his words in the passage, his footnotes more specifically, to connect with readers and allow for a stronger understanding of the ideas being conveyed. Yes, at a few points, his actions with his experience can tend to shy away from what he has previously said, but as a whole Wallace uses this way of communication to leave readers with a bigger message to walk away from the excerpt with.
The Justification of Posh Delicacy in Consider the Lobster, an Essay by David Foster Wallace
In David Foster Wallace’s, Consider The Lobster, he questions the justification of eating not only lobster but animals all together. Raising questions on the morals, escapades, and activities we use and participate in. While also considering how we interpret pain and suffering as a species. Within that he discusses the history of lobster and how it became the “posh delicacy”(Wallace 461) it is today. Beginning with the original uses for lobster, Wallace points out that up until the eighteen-hundreds lobster was a considered a poor mans meal. In early American colonies there had even been laws forbidding the feeding of lobster to prisoners more than once per week because it had been sought to be “cruel and unusual” and even comparable to “making people eat rats” (Wallace 460). Back in this time the number of lobsters available in the New England waters was far more substantial than the amount seen today. Because of this lobster was seen as something anyone could eat and or use, especially lower class citizens. The rise in popularity first only began on the terms that lobster at the time was affordable for anyone and high in protein.
So why is lobster now seen, in modern times, as a status symbol? As time continued the popularity of lobster began to grow for other reasons besides its affordability. The population of lobster began to decline just as the middle class was in search for a meal that could evolve into a comparable circumstance to that of champagne (Champagne was the seventeen-eighties royals beverage that could be waved above the lower class’ heads). Back into the early eighteen hundreds the abundance of lobster sparked chefs, particularly on trains, to market the lobster as an exotic meal causing people to request it more and more outside of the transportation networks. With the increase in popularity a decrease in abundance occurred only making lobster that much more desirable. Prices began to rise and lobster went from a meal “eaten only by the poor and institutionalized” (Wallace 460) to “the seafood analog to steak”(Wallace 461).
Similarly, in Jay Bost’s, Sometimes It’s More Ethical to Eat Meat Than Vegetables, Bost discusses his own reasoning behind his decision to return to meat-eating simply stating “eating meat in specific circumstances is ethical” (Bost 1). Based on Bost’s own research and understanding eating of animals can be considered the most ethical option depending on each individual’s location. For example, in areas of Arizona, Bost mentions that the proper care of cattle can ultimately result in the consumption of proper “condensed calories and protein with the aid of the microorganisms in its gut.”(Bost 2) Taking a slightly alternate perspective on the topic there’s is also the idea that in areas, like the “scrubby grasslands”(Bost 2) of Arizona, there may be an overuse of natural resources resulting in land degradation. Meaning that when a certain plot of land is used repeatedly for the same crop type the soil begins to degrade over time preventing the crops from receiving the proper nutrients to grow, as well as simply destroying the soil. With the raising of animals the soil has a higher chance of avoiding degradation and intaking the proper nutrients it would need to flourish. The animals, that are ultimately fed to people, are able to consume the plants that have been properly grown and are able to give those who eat meat the proper proteins, calories, and nutrients humans need to survive. As Bost mentions this outlook on meat-eating “looks much cleaner than the fossil-soaked scheme..” (Bost 2). Taking an alternate route into modern day meat production can be a ecological and ethically positive endeavor just in the simple cases that, when done correctly, “are able to to cycle nutrients, aid in land management, and convert sun to food in ways that are nearly impossible for us to do without fossil fuel” (Bost 3).
Bost concludes his writings with what he believes is the three reasons meat eating can be ethical so long as “you accept the biological reality that death begets life on this planet and that all life (including us!) is really just solar energy temporarily stored in an impermanent form. Second, you combine realization with that cherished human trait of compassion and choose ethically raised food, vegetable, grain and/or meat. And third, you give thanks” (Bost 5). The problem with these statements is the fact that not all people are going to agree with Bost’s ideology on why meat eating is ethical. Bost believes that if the things mentioned above are done then meat eating can be ethical. Others, such as an animal advocate, may feel that even though you are choosing to consume animals that were raised in good conditions, realizing that in the grand scheme of things all living things eventually die, and giving thanks, that it is still in the wrong to consume animal at all. In some sense it isn’t just about the way in which the animals are raised but the basis of eating them in general others may deem as unethical. As David Foster Wallace discusses in Consider The Lobster, if lobsters are able to feel pain and humans are capable of acknowledging the pain that animals feel then would it still be considered ethical to eat them?
An Analysis of the Morality of Boiling Lobsters Alive in Consider the Lobster, an Article by David Foster Wallace
When a meal is placed before you, you do not usually think of the journey those ingredients went on to reach you. You do not consider how far the corn traveled or the pain the lobster went through in order to become your food. David Foster Wallace’s article, “Consider the Lobster,” delves into the controversy surrounding the live boiling of lobster for human consumption. In order to effectively get his point across, Wallace outlines the Maine Lobster Festival and connects human experience with the lobster’s experience.
Initially, Wallace goes into great detail explaining the environment surrounding the Maine Lobster Festival in order to convey the idea that people nonchalantly ignore the massacre of thousands of lobsters right beside them. He outlines this to accurately show the hypocrisy of peoples’ nonchalant attitude surrounding the mass slaughter of the lobsters when they may find the mass slaughter of any other animal horrific. Further, he attempts to initiate compassion in his readers by gruesomely portraying the killing of the lobster. He does this in a way that sparks fear, disgust, and uneasiness within a reader who may see it as analogous with one’s own pain and experiences.
In summation, David Foster Wallace gets you thinking about the morality of boiling lobster alive for consumption through the portrayal of Maine’s lobster festival and the depiction of pain experienced by the lobster. We see how mindlessly people act when difficult matters concern their food and the morality of it. Also, we do not often pay attention to the pain animals may experience before they reach our plate. Thus, Wallace’s article encourages us to think before we eat.
Priority and Perspective in “The View From Mrs. Thompson’s”
“The View From Mrs. Thompson’s” is an account of the author’s experiences in Bloomington, Illinois directly following the 9/11 attacks. Largely based around his thoughts while watching events unfold on TV at a neighbour’s house, the essay contains descriptions of the clips shown and insight into the reactions of the people surrounding the author. The word “view” can mean either a sight or a mindset, and it is clear that both meanings resonate in Wallace’s essay.
At first, Wallace concentrates not on the tragedy itself, but on his efforts to purchase a flag to display in the event’s wake. Although they’re everywhere in his hometown, uniting citizens across lines of class and geography, he’s unable to find one, and fears that the sight of his home without a flag will appear to be a negative statement on his part. Questioning his neighbours as to their reasons for hanging up flags, he notes that their statements are fairly identical: it’s about unity, support, and pride. Although he eventually creates a makeshift flag from paper and Magic Markers, the power of appearances and images to variably unite and isolate is an important theme in the essay, and one that seems especially relevant considering the racial profiling that occurred in the name of national security following 9/11. At the moment, however, this is not yet a concern. Wallace is watching the news in Mrs. Thompson’s living room, surrounded by other neighbours and fellow church members, and his description of the scene calls to mind an observation from the opening paragraph: it’s as if everyone’s standing there watching the same traffic accident. Despite their different opinions and mindsets, this tragedy is a shared horror.
Furthermore, the essay indicates that what people see and how they react to it can effectively reveal their priorities. For instance, although footage of skyscrapers crumbling were upsetting, they were still viewable, whereas the clip of people falling from the North Tower was shown once, and never rerun. As it plays, Wallace tells us that the people in the room with him looks traumatised, simultaneously terrified and jaded, and finally moves on, unsure what to say. Although he and his neighbours could handle the large-scale destruction of buildings, the sight of people jumping from them–almost but not yet lost–is too much to bear. Perhaps this is because people are naturally predisposed to sympathise with those in peril, or perhaps it’s because it could just as easily have happened anywhere, but these reactions to the images of tragedy on Mrs. Thompson’s television show that despite the increased consumerism and greed in American culture, when it comes down to it, humanity still matters to us infinitely more than property.
View could also refer to the differing opinions and perspectives which informed the American public’s responses to 9/11. In many cases, these differences are based on age, as that greatly affected the ability of people to comprehend the situation. For instance, Wallace mentions a woman who said at first her sons thought the tragedy was just a movie, until they noticed it was playing on every channel. This innocence caused them to react with less anger and grief than many adults, even after learning the truth of the matter.
Wallace also discusses how differences in geographical location affected people’s mindset with regards to the tragedy. He says that people in the Midwest tend to spend less time together, choosing to watch television at someone’s house instead of going out to a party, whereas the East Coast is much more focused on meeting people face-to-face. This likely creates a sense of distance and detachment in places like Bloomington, and increases the contrast between everyday life and the sense of unity that followed the tragedy. This isolated viewpoint also causes the tragedy in New York to seem more distant–if they choose to turn off the TV, the events are still happening, but they are less immediate and therefore less terrifying. New Yorkers, however, would not have had the luxury of that remote viewpoint. Their altered skyline is evident and viscerally felt, not merely an image on a screen.
The last difference in viewpoint that Wallace explores is the contrast between his cynicism and the prayer of the women in the room with him. Silently, he critiques Bush’s lacking speech and notes how as time wears on the networks seem to be presenting a manufactured reaction. However, he ultimately notes that it may be preferable to believe in Mrs. Thompson’s view of the president, the images on TV, the power of prayer, because that means America as a nation would be better than he believes.
Critiquing English Literature
There are a countless number of authors that critique contemporary English usage to the highest extent they possibly can in order to ensure one’s writing is flawless. David Foster Wallace and George Orwell are two of the many authors that criticize modern English literature and offer solutions for what they believe to be common literary mistakes. Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language” focuses on writing clearly, in a simple fashion and the mistakes one is prone to make if they do not write in this style. On the other hand, “Authority and American Usage” by Wallace discusses the ongoing Usage Wars of modern English writing and the importance of authority and credibility in writing, while drawing a clear line between usage and ethics. Although both authors believe there are many flaws in English literature, their literary styles both differ from one another and they do not offer the same solutions to their much different critiques. As a result of this, neither Orwell nor Wallace would agree with each other regarding the issue of common literary mistakes and the techniques necessary to solve these problems.
Orwell starts off “Politics and the English Language” by claiming that the English language is going towards the wrong path by stating, “Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way.” Orwell blames this decline on bad habits that are “spread by imitation.”The bad habits that Orwell mentions throughout his essay are the use of dying metaphors, operators/verbal false limbs, pretentious diction, and meaningless words. The reason he claims these habits are the cause of the decline is because they complicate something that can be written more simply. “As I have tried to show, modern writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning and inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer. It consists in gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug. The attraction of this way of writing is that it is easy. It is even easier–even quicker, once you have the habit–to say In my opinion it is a not unjustifiable assumption that than to say I think. If you use ready-made phrases, you not only don’t have to bother with the rhythms of your sentences, since these phrases are generally so arranged as to be more or less euphonious.”Orwell believes, and tries to persuade the reader, that these habits will cause the writer to lose meaning of what is being written. He criticizes modern English by saying that writers use words and phrases that are commonly used, or have been used before by someone else, not because they relate to what they are writing but because it is much easier to do as opposed to sit down and actually think for yourself. This ends up causing the written work to end up scattered and not clear, which is the opposite of what Orwell preaches about–clear writing. Orwell also mentions that insincerity in writing is a cause of clear writing. He says, “The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like cuttlefish squirting out ink.” When a writer is not sincere in their work, it creates a barrier between the writer’s real message and the message that they actually get across to their audience because they start spewing out random, meaningless words and phrases which then results in writing that is anything but clear.
Although Orwell feels that the English language is going down a bad path, he believes that it can be saved. “I said earlier that the decadence of our language is probably curable.”He lists six specific things that will improve contemporary English for most situations. The list says: i. Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print. ii. Never use a long word where a short one will do.iii. If it is possible to a cut a word out, always cut it out. iv. Never use the passive where you can use the active. v. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent. vi. Break any of these rules sooner than saying something outright barbarous.”
This set of rules, in Orwell’s opinion, will better one’s writing and will also help save modern English usage but it may take a while to do so. Orwell does not think one’s writing will change immediately because people have “grown used to writing in the style now fashionable.”With these changes Orwell believes writing will become more unique. “One cannot change this all in a moment, but one can at least change one’s own habits, and from time to time one can even, if one jeers loudly enough, send some worn-out and useless phrase–some jackboot, Achilles’ heel, hotbed, melting pot, acid test, veritable inferno or other lump of verbal refuse–into the dustbin where it belongs.”Instead of copying phrases and words that are commonly passed around, writers will begin to think for themselves and write more creatively and clearly.
Unlike Orwell, Wallace does not care much about clear writing as much as he does drawing a clear line between usage versus ethics, which are the causes of the “Usage War” that he mentions throughout his essay. The Usage War is a fight between Prescriptivism (usage), or SNOOTs, and Descriptivism (ethics), two styles of writing that are the total opposites of one another. In his essay, Wallace refers to Prescriptives as “linguistic conservatives,” Wallace who believe that there should be a set of rules to determine what is correct or incorrect in English usage, wheres Descriptivists are labeled as “linguistic liberals” that do not believe in set guidelines regarding what should be considered right or wrong and favor ethics over logic. Wallace believes in order to solve the problem between usage and ethics, one must build credibility in order to have authority over the reader, which is why he is such a huge fan of Bryan Garner’s A Dictionary of Modern American Usage. He describes Garner as “a genius because the Dictionary of Modern American Usage pretty much resolves the Usage Wars’ Crisis of Authority. Garner manages to control the compresence of rhetorical Appeals so cleverly that he appears able to transcend both Usage Wars camps and simply tell the truth, and in a way that does not torpedo his own credibility but actually enhances it.”Garner is able to solve the Usage War by creating credibility in his writing which thus creates authority. “In fact, a large part of the project of any contemporary usage dictionary will consist in establishing this authority. If that seems rather obvious, be apprised that nobody before Garner seems to have figured it out — that the lexicographer’s challenge now is to be not just accurate and comprehensive but credible. That in the absence of unquestioned Authority in language, the reader must now be moved or persuaded to grant a dictionary its authority, freely and for what appear to be good reasons.” What Wallace is trying to say here is that a writer must be able to build credibility in order for the reader to be able to hand over his trust to gain authority. Garner has completed that by creating enough credibility in his dictionary which causes the reader to believe his work.
Reviewing both Orwell’s and Wallace’s critiques of contemporary English usage and their solutions, one can clearly see that they do not agree on what is wrong with English nor how to fix these problems. Orwell’s problem with modern writing is described in this passage: “the writer either has a meaning and cannot express it, or he inadvertently says something else, or he is almost indifferent as to whether his words mean anything or not.”Orwell is claiming that the main problem is caused by the writer not being able to get his point across clearly enough. On the other hand, Wallace claims that the biggest problem is the “Usage War,” which is a fight about gaining authority in writing. “These Wars are both the context and the target of a very subtle rhetorical strategy in A Dictionary of Modern American Usage, and without talking about them it’s impossible to explain why Garner’s book is both so good and so sneaky.”Orwell states that contemporary English usage will be saved only if we write clearly and stop being lazy, whereas Wallace believes that the problem is not about the way you write but about how you can gain authority over what you write about.
Although Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language” and Wallace’s “Authority and American Language Usage” both critique contemporary English usage, they are both very different from one another and they would not agree with each other regarding what is wrong and how to solve these problems. While Orwell focused more on writing clearly, Wallace devoted most of his paper to the Usage Wars; however, both authors critiqued and solved many problems that are present in contemporary English usage.