When a scientist considers all high-tech mental machinery needed to arrange words into ordinary sentences, prescriptive rules are, at best, inconsequential little decorations. The very fact that they have to be drilled shows that they are alien to the natural workings of the language system. One can choose to obsess over prescriptive rules, but they have no more to do with language than the criteria for judging cats at a cat show have to do with mammalian biology.
Feminism is not here to dictate to you. It's not prescriptive, it's not dogmatic. All we are here to do is give you a choice. If you want to run for President, you can. If you don't, that's wonderful, too. I'm lucky I was raised to believe that my opinion at the dinner table was valuable. My mum and I spoke as loudly as my brothers.
I'm not so in with the prescriptive avant-garde agenda. I can do that sort of thing, but I feel that I'm still interested enough in song structure. When I look at a lyric on the page, the lyric is alive to me, looking like soldiers in a field. I can move it around, and it's very black-and-white.
I tried to go to college in the U.K. a couple of times, but at that point, I think I was a little disillusioned with education. It wasn't giving me what I wanted it to. I needed freedom to create and do the things that I wanted to explore, and it wasn't really doing that: it was still very prescriptive.
I did not love cold harmony and perfect regularity of organization; what I sought was variety, mystery, tradition, the venerable, the awful. I despised sophisters and calculators; I was groping for faith, honor, and prescriptive loyalties. I would have given any number of neo-classical pediments for one poor battered gargoyle.
Universal grammar is about what language is: it is to be distinguished from prescriptive grammars, often distilled in newspaper columns, which tell us what language should be. We are all entitled to our own opinions of what is appropriate, be it in the arrangement of words or flowers - as long as we keep in mind that these are just opinions. The properties of universal grammar linguists have unearthed, however, are a useful defense when language "authorities" try to rationalize their pontifications: none of the don'ts they advertise can be found in the book of universal grammar.
Deleuze and Guattari have been totally misunderstood because the following has been wrenched from context: "Forming grammatically correct sentences is for the normal individual the prerequisite for any submission to social laws. No one is supposed to be ignorant of grammaticality; those who are belong in special institutions. The unity of language is fundamentally political." (112) They are NOT advocating for this sort of prescriptive approach to language; rather, they are describing the social system around language-how language is a political tool. Why persist in quoting them as though they are promoting some sort of linguistic purity?
In the whole vast dome of living nature there reigns an open violence. A kind of prescriptive fury which arms all the creatures to their common doom: as soon as you leave the inanimate kingdom you find the decree of violent death inscribed on the very frontiers of life. You feel it already in the vegetable kingdom: from the great catalpa to the humblest herb, how many plants die and how many are killed; but, from the moment you enter the animal kingdom, this law is suddenly in the most dreadful evidence. A Power, a violence, at once hidden and palpable... has in each species appointed a certain number of animals to devour the others... And who [in this general carnage] exterminates him who will exterminate all others? Himself. It is man who is charged with the slaughter of man... The whole earth, perpetually steeped in blood, is nothing but a vast altar upon which all that is living must be sacrificed without end, without measure, without pause, until the consummation of things, until evil is extinct, until the death of death.
Joseph de Maistre
What is it that frightens us about a "novel of causes", and conversely, does fiction have to exist in some suspended, apolitical landscape in order to be literary? Can it not politically and temporally specific and still be in good literary taste? We are leery of literature that smacks of the polemic, instructional, or prescriptive, and I guess rightly so-it's a drag to be lectured to-but what does that imply about our attitudes towards intellectual inquiry? While I enjoy reading kitchen-table novels in which characters are distilled to their emotional essence and their lives stripped of politics and commerce, it simply is not reflective of my experience. I see our lives as being a part of an enormous web of interconnected spheres, where the workings of the larger social, political, and corporate machinery impact something as private and intimate as the descent of an egg through a woman's fallopian tube. This is the resonance I want to conjure in my books. I want to write novels that engage the emotions and the intellect, and that means going head to head with the chaos of evils and issues that threaten to overpower us all. And if they threaten to overpower the characters, then I have to make the characters stronger.
Weight Watchers holds as a descriptive axiom the transparently true fact that for each of us the universe is deeply and sharply and completely divided into for example in my case, me, on one side, and everything else, on the other. This for each of us exhaustively defines the whole universe... And then they hold by a prescriptive axiom the undoubtedly equally true and inarguable fact that we each ought to desire our own universe to be as full as possible, that the Great Horror consists in an empty, rattling personal universe, one where one finds oneself with Self, on one hand, and vastly empty lonely spaces before Others begin to enter the picture at all, on the other. A non-full universe... The emptier one's universe is, the worse it is... Weight Watchers perceives the problem as one involving the need to have as much Other around as possible, so that the relation is one of minimum Self to maximum Other... We each need a full universe. Weight Watchers and their allies would have us systematically decrease the Self-component of the universe, so that the great Other-set will be physically attracted to the now more physically attractive Self, and rush in to fill the void caused by that diminution of Self. Certainly not incorrect, but just as certainly only half of the range of valid solutions to the full-universe problem... Is my drift getting palpable? Just as in genetic engineering... There is always more than one solution... An autonomously full universe... Rather than diminishing Self to entice Other to fill our universe, we may also of course obviously choose to fill the universe with Self... Yes. I plan to grow to infinite size... There will of course eventually cease to be room for anyone else in the universe at all.
David Foster Wallace
The advantages of a hereditary Monarchy are self-evident. Without some such method of prescriptive, immediate and automatic succession, an interregnum intervenes, rival claimants arise, continuity is interrupted and the magic lost. Even when Parliament had secured control of taxation and therefore of government; even when the menace of dynastic conflicts had receded in to the coloured past; even when kingship had ceased to be transcendental and had become one of many alternative institutional forms; the principle of hereditary Monarchy continued to furnish the State with certain specific and inimitable advantages. Apart from the imponderable, but deeply important, sentiments and affections which congregate around an ancient and legitimate Royal Family, a hereditary Monarch acquires sovereignty by processes which are wholly different from those by which a dictator seizes, or a President is granted, the headship of the State. The King personifies both the past history and the present identity of the Nation as a whole. Consecrated as he is to the service of his peoples, he possesses a religious sanction and is regarded as someone set apart from ordinary mortals. In an epoch of change, he remains the symbol of continuity; in a phase of disintegration, the element of cohesion; in times of mutability, the emblem of permanence. Governments come and go, politicians rise and fall: the Crown is always there. A legitimate Monarch moreover has no need to justify his existence, since he is there by natural right. He is not impelled as usurpers and dictators are impelled, either to mesmerise his people by a succession of dramatic triumphs, or to secure their acquiescence by internal terrorism or by the invention of external dangers. The appeal of hereditary Monarchy is to stability rather than to change, to continuity rather than to experiment, to custom rather than to novelty, to safety rather than to adventure. The Monarch, above all, is neutral. Whatever may be his personal prejudices or affections, he is bound to remain detached from all political parties and to preserve in his own person the equilibrium of the realm. An elected President - whether, as under some constitutions, he be no more than a representative functionary, or whether, as under other constitutions, he be the chief executive - can never inspire the same sense of absolute neutrality. However impartial he may strive to become, he must always remain the prisoner of his own partisan past; he is accompanied by friends and supporters whom he may seek to reward, or faced by former antagonists who will regard him with distrust. He cannot, to an equal extent, serve as the fly-wheel of the State.
I fancy my father thought me an odd child, and had little fondness for me; though he was very careful in fulfilling what he regarded as a parent's duties. But he was already past the middle of life, and I was not his only son. My mother had been his second wife, and he was five-and-forty when he married her. He was a firm, unbending, intensely orderly man, in root and stem a banker, but with a flourishing graft of the active landholder, aspiring to county influence: one of those people who are always like themselves from day to day, who are uninfluenced by the weather, and neither know melancholy nor high spirits. I held him in great awe, and appeared more timid and sensitive in his presence than at other times; a circumstance which, perhaps, helped to confirm him in the intention to educate me on a different plan from the prescriptive one with which he had complied in the case of my elder brother, already a tall youth at Eton. My brother was to be his representative and successor; he must go to Eton and Oxford, for the sake of making connexions, of course: my father was not a man to underrate the bearing of Latin satirists or Greek dramatists on the attainment of an aristocratic position. But intrinsically, he had slight esteem for "those dead but sceptred spirits"; having qualified himself for forming an independent opinion by reading Potter's Aeschylus, and dipping into Francis's Horace. To this negative view he added a positive one, derived from a recent connexion with mining speculations; namely, that scientific education was the really useful training for a younger son. Moreover, it was clear that a shy, sensitive boy like me was not fit to encounter the rough experience of a public school. Mr. Letherall had said so very decidedly. Mr. Letherall was a large man in spectacles, who one day took my small head between his large hands, and pressed it here and there in an exploratory, suspicious manner - then placed each of his great thumbs on my temples, and pushed me a little way from him, and stared at me with glittering spectacles. The contemplation appeared to displease him, for he frowned sternly, and said to my father, drawing his thumbs across my eyebrows - 'The deficiency is there, sir-there; and here, ' he added, touching the upper sides of my head, 'here is the excess. That must be brought out, sir, and this must be laid to sleep.' I was in a state of tremor, partly at the vague idea that I was the object of reprobation, partly in the agitation of my first hatred - hatred of this big, spectacled man, who pulled my head about as if he wanted to buy and cheapen it. ("The Lifted Veil")