Michael Ubaldi, May 15, 2003.
Back in February I wrote an off-the-cuff essay on democratization; vowing to follow up with something more substantial, I set off on a researched paper that is now breaking 8,000 words - about forty pages when double-spaced. I'm almost done with it. I intend to send out a few advisements to some web notables, and, anticipating even incidental visitors to apply more scrutiny to a gigantic essay, I've been fairly meticulous is ensuring that the argument I've made is solvent.
Looking over the essay, it's obvious that I approach subjects far more from principle than fact. Though I certainly fortify statements with concrete bases, I'm much more comfortable relying on my ability to argue a unifying proposition with which a reader can identify and then apply to either his own knowledge or my real-world example. Too many "facts" - numbers, citations, what have you - tend to bog down an essay, especially when those bits aren't strung together.
The second observation I've made about my writing is that it is far more - if you can make the analogy - C.S. Lewis than Learned, Heavily Read and Sharply Critical Historian. They tend to be, as you'd understand having read this blog - full of speech-like flourishes. Hey, it's what makes me me. I'd guess that the more "intellectual" the reader, the less interest they'd have in it on grounds that I'd have made "too many assertions." For others - and I've given early rough drafts to trusted sources - my explanations do connect to provide a sort of "Oh, yeah, I get it" elucidation. Intuition has always been far more natural to me than linear analysis and tome-devouring. It's how I work.
But some degree of devouring must be done. In the making of the essay, I've realized that my knowledge of tangibles is understandibly lacking in certain areas. I've also come to appreciate the utter lack of reprinted information regarding post-war reconstruction of either Japan or Germany. A careless Google string results in every opinion column writer and his brother trying to compare, from a similarly informal perspective, the reconstitution of both Axis nations to the plans for Iraq; creative strings don't seem to yield better leads to comprehensive reports - timelines, anecdotes, first-hand observations.
So I decided to - gasp! - hit the library. Lunch was big today, so dinner can wait. I'll swing by the old place and grab a clutch of at least five books on MacArthur's occupation I found from a simple catalog perusal.
I'll keep you all abreast.
UPDATE: I ended up borrowing seven books. After nine pages of the most interesting one, I can confidently say that anyone complaining about lawlessness, infrastructure damage, confusion, hunger, economic duress and/or national instability in Iraq should be slapped, and strapped into a fettered chair and read several accounts of the Japanese occupation. In less words, what we're running into today is nothing - nothing - compared to Japan in the first few years. Reading this, I can only assume that most journalists don't know the first thing about what actually happened when they go on about "failure" after a bloody month. Anyway.
UPDATE II: Thanks for asking for the essay, guys. No, it's not done and yes, feel free to make suggestions. I may or may not be amenable to ideological changes, most likely not. But it's an open door. And feel free to read it slowly or mull over it. I just hope it doesn't, like, stink or anything. Nah. For a first essay of that length (in college, I was the king of terse arguments), I don't think it does. Oh, and e-mail any correspondence.
UPDATE III: Just so you know, I don't receive e-mails for the "fc" address at home. I may be able to finagle it in the new apartment; we'll see.
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