Flutterby™! : Walks like a Duck...

Next unread comment / Catchup all unread comments User Account Info | Logout | XML/Pilot/etc versions | Long version (with comments) | Weblog archives | Site Map | | Browse Topics

Walks like a Duck...

2007-07-25 16:32:24.494821+00 by petronius 2 comments

The blogosphere is currently ruffled by the questions of Scott Thomas, the pseudonym for the author of a controversial article in The National Review. His descriptions of various misdeeds by US forces serving in Iraq (deliberately running down dogs with a Bradley fighting vehicle, for instance) have engendered demands that the TNR reveal the author's name, or to provide other, named, witnesses to the events. So far the editor has not come up with much.

However, this essay puts an interesting spin on the question. John Barnes is an experienced editor and a semiotician, and while he has no insight into "Scott Thomas'" real identity, he does suggest the kind of person he is, and even his educational background. This is based on the people who write essays or stories in this style, and how they are in real life. He says that guys who write this sort of thing are MFA students with a certain macho swagger and a penchant for bad Hemingway pastiches. It will be interesting to see who Thomas really is (and you know we will), and if TNR has gotten Glassed again.

[ related topics: Interactive Drama Books Weblogs Writing ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2007-07-25 18:47:37.438084+00 by: Dan Lyke

Hmmm... I wonder if, as linguistic analysis tools get better (like some of the stuff being done in spam detection, for instance), computers will start to be able to detect some of the "background based on writing style" issues...

#Comment Re: made: 2007-07-25 21:02:52.713895+00 by: petronius

Some literary sleuths have been using word-use analysis for years to attribute authorship of disputed works. I even remember a Nero Wolfe story from the late 50s where Wolfe deduces that one person wrote a book based on her overuse of the verb "aver".