Most of my writing on this website consists of reviews and analysis. These are two vastly different areas which demand an equally different approach from the writer. I believe that it is very important for any author to use the appropriate thought process when publishing any material that can be referred to by others. It is a matter of responsibility, especially when it comes to analysis.
The word “analysis” has many meanings. One popular understanding is linked to the field of science. Analysis can be experimental or statistical. In both cases, abstractions are used in order to bring infinitely-complex processes down to our level of understanding.
I don’t think that we currently have the knowledge or technology to fully understand or make clear predictions regarding the actions of millions of people and their complex interactions. We can, however, put forward various hypotheses and assumptions, backing these up with as many facts as possible.
One of my assumptions is that emitting an opinion is not proper when dealing with matters which concern the life of more beings than the individual holding the opinion. Opinion is best suited for discussions about art or subjects that pertain to one’s personal life; although in this latter case it can be argued that it is risky or perhaps even dangerous to base life-altering choices upon something as fickle and unfounded as opinion.
This assumption is quite easy to back using facts. Sadly, throughout our history, there have been many people in positions of power which mixed their personal opinions with politics, ultimately ruining countless lives. They sometimes even used science to justify their choices, but time eventually proved that there was little more than opinion behind their twisted analysis.
The right tool for the job
In my writing, I try to keep a strict delimitation between opinion and analysis. I have the right to an opinion when it comes to a work of art, perhaps a product. But when my words concern anything else than me, opinion is relegated to a far-away second place, that is, if it is even present at all.
The reverse is also true, although to a lesser extent. Art can seldom be analyzed. It is here when opinion is best suited, since the perception of art is of a deeply personal nature. However, art also involves skill, and this is something that can be measured, to a certain degree. Therefore I would say that there is more room for analysis in art than for opinion in analysis.
This separation of concerns is by no means absolute. The beautiful challenge of writing about a certain topic lies in finding a harmonious balance between the personal perspective and the social context.
In some cases, opinion and analysis can share the spotlight. When writing a product review, there is a fair amount of opinion involved, for example regarding the build quality or usefulness of the product. These judgments are influenced by personal taste and habit. In the same time, such a review must also present a meaningful analysis that can be useful to the reader, mindful of the fact that every reader is different.
Through this project, I will strive for a middle ground between these two styles of writing. For every opinion I put out there, I will offer another, more analytical work (on a different topic). And from time to time, some product review will show up as well.
What about these words? Was this an opinion or an analysis? I’d say it was a bit of both. It’s my opinion and analysis on the topic of opinion or analysis. For sure, it has helped me visualize how to pursue my craft onwards.
I’ll close with an amusing but important warning. A friend of mine once said: “Opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one and they’re all smelly”. This can labeled as “vulgar” but such categorization will never stop me from recognizing the validity of a claim or its entertainment value – the statement above has both. I will be careful with my opinions and try to keep Mentatul as least smelly as possible.