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Sunday, 16 January 2011

True or false? And some thoughts on writing

"Be so true to thyself as thou be not false to others" - Francis Bacon, who many thought was the "real" Shakespeare.

No wonder. Among my favourite quotations is Polonius' advice to his son Laertes in Hamlet: "This above all: to thine own self be true." Quite similar thoughts, aren't they?

Ironically, Bacon, a lawyer who rose to become Lord Chancellor ended his career in disgrace for taking bribes. Blair was a lawyer, too, and I see he is about to be questioned once more about his lies that led us into the Iraq war. He was smart enough to cash in after he finished his daytime job.

The quotation I started this with, by the way , was sent to me By Dr. Mardy Grothe, who sends out a selection of quotations every week, together with a little quiz. He's at www.DrMardy.com.

An interesting man, Dr. Mardy was one of pioneers of something that has become very fashionable - executive coaching. He does a lot of speaking, too.

I love quotations and reading - if I had spent more time on them than chasing women I would be a lot richer. No use despairing, though. Here's something I love from Gibbon about the emperor Gordian the Younger:

Twenty-two acknowledged concubines and a library of sixty-two thousand volumes attested the variety of his inclinations; and from the productions that he left behind him, it appears that both the one and the other were designed for use rather than for ostentation."

Winston Churchill perfected his writing style by reading Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire when as a young man he sailed to India - a voyage which in those days took weeks.

Recently a few people have asked me what I think of various other copywriters. Here is another line from Dr. Johnson: "There are few things more risible in the farce of life than the reciprocal flattery of writers."

If I had any criticism to make of today's successful copywriters, many of whom I try to study and learn from, it is that they don't seem to have read much beyond that which is about making money. This makes a lot of their stuff pretty dull and repetitive.

That leads a neat observation, also from Bacon:
"Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man."

I'm in a bit of a panic today. I promised a student in India to do a video about some work I've done and I haven't started. Panic maketh a frantic man.

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