Saturday, March 31, 2012

16606--Writing our Wrongs

It feels wrong not to write -- forget about "How do writers do it?"  How does everyone else not? 

Realize that I'm not talking about some small thing here.  The written word is the very structure upon which we hang our complex thoughts and communicate them to each other.  While human culture may precede structured writing, history doesn't.  History is made of writing, every letter an atom.  Molecules of complex ideas are brought to clarity through the power of written words.

I know, a picture is supposed to be worth a thousand words, but there's little chance that every person viewing the picture is going to have the same thousand words come to mind.  If that had been a truly successful system, we'd still be sketching hieroglyphs to each other and comic books (aka graphic novels) wouldn't need letterers.  This blog would just be a bunch of pictures.  Can you imagine trying to craft a complicated legal deal into a contract composed entirely from images?

The written word is such an integral component of our lives and culture that I think we would do well to increase writing as a focus in education.  The benefits of training young minds in not just abstract thought or linear thought or the use of imagination or researching information, but also in organizing all those things into a coherence that can then be communicated to others could be so immense as to be unquantifiable.

Quantifying things is the realm of math.  I enjoy math.  I respect math.  It's what our brains use to understand the universe.  Writing is what we use to explain what we've learned to each other and to understand ourselves.  Despite the danger of unleashing endless hordes of pretentiously self-absorbed wordsmiths upon the Earth, imagine the impact alone of living in a society where more people chose their words carefully, thinking before speaking.  Imagine people taught from youth to be mindful, examining the world and themselves, doing more than crashing about on a lifetime quest for food and pleasure. 

Even a bad writer is making an effort, taking measure of their successes and shortcomings.  With practice and guidance, probing the darkest reaches of the soul with such confrontations as to yield any manner of improvement.  It sounds like going where the pain is and poking at it.  I suppose it is.  I still call it personal development. 

After a couple of generations of mindful, thoughtful people working to actively raise more of the same, there might be a lot less dark to find prowling in those corners and corridors.  Working the brain creates the potential for a better brain and better performance.  Who couldn't use a better brain? 

The written word allows our thoughts to transcend time and space with clarity and depth.  We've been gifted, thus, with the power to communicate with those we may never meet.  With it rests our hope that some future explorers won't sift through the dirt and rubble of our remains and have to piece together speculations about what use we made of pizza cutters, wii-motes and ten thousand other modern oddities that have come to populate our world.  It means there's hope that someone might even make sense of Beanie Babies, Justin Bieber and YouTube videos one day.


  1. Hi Phoenix. So far I've notice all kinds of people using the internet to promote their ideas.
    I hope that after a few generations of humans being exposed to information and ideas from all over the world, that the world population in general will be more enlightened. It would be sad if the internet, used so commonly, only passed on ignorance.
    And although there are millions more writers than there used to be, most of this writing occurs in the ether. It's unlikely it'll last long enough for future explorers to discover.
    But I share your hope that the internet will pull humankind together, by letting us get to know each other across vast distances and cultures. Someday, maybe even different planets!
    Louise Sorensen
    louise3anne twitter

    1. Thanks for sharing your reaction, Louise :) I'm reminded of the last episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation's first season. It was called "The Neutral Zone" for any that want to go suffer through it (while I'm a fan of ST in general, that season is a poor example and remains a painful viewing experience). Anyway, a trio from way back now are discovered and revived from frozen suspension, cured of their ills and introduced to the future that has survived for them to see. One of them is a pushy businessman who insists that his firm and banks be contacted right away. They were very prestigious and he was certain that they'd have survived any test of time. That little bit of arrogance at least brought me humor in that episode. To their credit, it was probably intentional.

      As much as we might like to speculate, especially us speculative scifi type writers, about the shapes of things yet to be, we also know we don't know. Jules Verne and HG Wells made some impressive projections and I'll even claim to have made a few good calls that I've seen manifest in my lifetime, but I'll also admit that I don't even know what I'm having for dinner tonight. Will there be an internet in a hundred years or anyone around to even care? I'm guardedly optimistic, knowing that there's a lot of things I could think of and a lot I might not that could launch us on a myriad of disastrous paths. I'm eager to see how it plays out, though. With luck, I'll be able to say "I saw this coming," with a smile rather than a bitter "I told you so, but who listens to me?"