Half As Long

I have made this letter longer than usual, only because I have not had time to make it shorter. 
Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)

Labor Students,

If there is a piece of advice that we would like to give you when writing your compositions and essays  is to keep them SHORT and SIMPLE:

  • Shorter is better
  • Use short words: never use a long word where a short one will do.
  • If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  • Try to make it half as long…
And now, please watch this clip from the beautiful 1992 film ‘A River Runs Through It’ (from minute 5.43 to 7.16; transcription to follow). You will find the secret: HALF AS LONG.

…So it was with my formal education as well. Each weekday, while my father worked on his Sunday sermon I attended the school of the Reverend Maclean. He taught nothing but reading and writing. And being a Scot…. believed that the art of writing lay in thrift.
–Half as long.
So while my friends spent their days at Missoula Elementary I stayed home and learnt to write the American language.
–Again. Half as long.
–Good. Now throw it away.

(You can find the full transcription of this videoclip and of the complete film here)

No copyright infringement intended. For educational, non-commercial purposes only.


About Labor Teacher

NNET, Secondary Education, Labor School, Vigo
This entry was posted in Cinema, listening, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

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