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Can I rewrite the sentences in bold like this: "Not whether the parts of the system functioned, or even existed was important, but only that certain people, for a certain period of time, believed that they did was important"

Instead of serving intended rational purposes, modern management techniques contributed to a saga that built external legitimacy and support and kept critics and legislators at bay. The myth afforded breathing space for work to go forward and elevated participants’ spirits and self-confidence. The Polaris story demonstrates the virtues of drama in engaging the attention and appreciation of both internal and external audiences: “An alchemist’s combination of whirling computers, bright-colored charts, and fast-talking public relations officers gave the Special Projects Office a truly effective management system. It mattered not whether the parts of the system functioned, or even existed. It mattered only that certain people, for a certain period of time, believed that they did”(Sapolsky, 1972, p. 129).

Source: Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice, and Leadership

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    -1 I have mentioned repeatedly that you should not simply paste long URLs into your questions (it's terrible formatting), but use hyperlinks instead. I've also pointed you to documentation on how to do that. (At first, I edited these questions for you.) May 1, 2019 at 17:28

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Just like that? Literally "Not whether the parts of the system functioned, or even existed was important, but only that certain people, for a certain period of time, believed that they did was important"?

That's not a sentence. It's just a very long noun-phrase.

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  • The verb: "was important".
    – Lorel C.
    May 2, 2019 at 1:41
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Your verb comes way too late in your sentence, as Malvolio said, your rewrite doesn't read like a sentence. I understand that "It mattered not ... " is a little artistic, or idiomatic, and hard to understand. If I needed to rewrite the paragraph using "important" instead of "mattered" I might write something like this:

... It (was not important) whether the parts of the system functioned, or even existed. It (was only important) that certain people, for a certain period of time, believed that they did ...

Since it was a direct quote, I put the pieces I changed in parenthesis to show an edit was made to the original wording.

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