[...] If we could separate meaning from sound, he adds, 'we'd read plot summaries rather than novels.' Or, in the domain of politics, listicles rather than the Communist Manifesto. But the fact that the common sense is what it is, indicates how much of the history of writing has been repressed: the idea of peering through a series of coloured knots onto reality would seem to be a profound misunderstanding of what the knots were for. Knots might illuminate, but they can't get out of the way of their own meaning. Yet we think we can use language as though it could be, and should aspire to be, as transparent as a windowpane. We expect language to get out of the way. We demand clarity.
The demand for clarity in its modern sense is ideologically suspect, rooted in an idealistic metaphysic of meaning, but it is seductive because it appears to be inclusive and democratic in its approach to communication. Its apparent obverse, say, 'obscurity', is regarded as an elitist practice, akin to obfuscation. [...]