The word tautology has a nice ambiguous ring to it. It originated with the ancient Greeks who soon saw it as the mere repetition of words to support an argument. The logic behind it, a concept which later cropped up in propositional mathematics – is that if you reword and say the same thing over and over, each statement will fill the contingent of logic, support the argument and make it true. There is a formula.
In the forties and fifties Rudolf Flesch contributed to the recognition of tautologies in the written word. He wrote titles like “The Art of Clear Thinking” with a chapter title “How Not To Be Bamboozled”. He also wrote “The Art of Plain Talk”. Gotta love this guy!
But isn’t repetition with a few variables thrown in, the only way to reinforce something? Tautologies are getting tighter. It is the contraction of the sheer volume that must now be sifted. The information age is causing them to shrink – like wool in a hot washer. If you take out all superfluous words and repetitions – it strips the wordy embellishments to reveal the core. Padded writing is sort of like a glitzy, tacky overdone outfit.
Now, we have SEO’s and key words. We have a skeleton of tautologies in every realm. We just have to remember – that repetition – doesn’t necessarily mean that something is true or authentic. Authenticity has a solid ring to it. It holds onto some class. Maybe stripping away all superfluous and repetitious words brings us closer to poetry…since poetry says as much as possible with as few words as can be gotten away with. Therefore the core concept often has an elemental truth.
It might be on the horizon to drum up SEO’s out of a poem or a song…and like birds in the forest – the white noise is lost, leaving only the voice.
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