I have kind of a weird question. I recently discovered that I take an inordinate amount of pleasure in breaking rules, and I thought, "Sometimes I make up rules just to break them." But then I thought of RwV and all the stuff you say about grammar and I thought, "GRAMMAR! Grammar is ALL ABOUT rules." But I feel weird and kind of dirty for having my motivation for learning grammatical rules be just so that I can break them. Is it okay? Is this normal?
I don’t know if it’s “normal,” but I don’t think “normal” matters. It is definitely okay, though.
Would I be a jackass if I quoted myself about the matter?
Let’s be clear: I don’t believe in the technical rules of writing out of some abiding respect for law and order. I don’t even believe the rules should always be followed. I adore the way E.E. Cummings transcends the page by completely disregarding “proper” form. Accessible, natural writing often steps around the technical rules to capture streams of consciousness and realistic dialogue. The vital point, however, is that when the written word wanders away from conventional rules, it ought to be moving toward something. Color outside the lines, yes, but do so because you’re drawing a new picture, not because you’re scribble-checking whether the ballpoint pen still has ink.
I’m going to digress with a metaphor. I promise that I have a point.
Imagine you’re a child, and you are told that you are not allowed to cross the street. Got it? No street-crossing! “Don’t cross the street,” exists as a rule so you don’t get hit by a car.
Knowing that it’s a rule is an integral part of living with the rule. If you don’t know it’s a rule, you end up wandering around in the street or dashing back and forth. In the best case, these ignorant rule-breakers merely look like idiots; in the worst, they get hurt.
Sure, you could live your live abiding by the rules for no other reason than, “It’s the rule!” However, if you want to live your own life, an interesting life, then you have to know why a rule exists so you follow with the right intent. With that in mind, you can cross the street if you look both ways first. You sometimes need to cross the street because there’s something over there you want. Also: if you’re a chicken.
The moral of the story is that knowing what is “proper” keeps you from looking ignorant, but it also grants you the savvy to decide when to disobey.
“No one in the history of the world has ever self-identified as a pseudoscientist. There is no person who wakes up in the morning and thinks to himself, ‘I’ll just head into my pseudolaboratory and perform some pseudoexperiments to try to confirm my pseudotheories with pseudofacts.’”—http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=what-is-pseudoscience