Sunday, September 15, 2013


The most interesting and exciting book I know on writing is Richard A. Lanham's "Style: An Anti-textbook".  It is a little hard to read in places since the opening doubles and triples the usual complaints about language use and ignorance.  But it is clever and memorable.  That was the first book I read that helped me grasp and remember that in many places on earth even today, being able to write in a way that someone else can read and understand what was meant is a specialized skill, not one that everyone is expected to master.

We actually have quite a few such skills in our lives: using a modern stove, a telephone, maybe a computer, driving a car as well as writing, both by hand and using a keyboard. But of these, writing may be the oldest requirement and maybe with good reason.  I am surprised at how often handwriting still enters the picture, even in this age of large and small keyboards. Being able to jot down a note, to one's self or others still matters.

It is true that Dragon Speaking and other software can hear spoken language and write out the words said but my experience with that method has not been very positive.  Since virtually all of my typing is composition, from my mind to the monitor screen, I would need a considerable amount of training to feel comfortable composing orally.

Writing for oneself and for friends is about reflection, reliving a day or revisiting an idea or experience and considering what happened, what the consequences may be, examination and re-participation in life.  Various things I have read about the emerging self around the world make it seem that my picturing myself as having a life and one worthy of reflection is a fairly recent phenomenon.  Maybe in the Middle Ages, I would not have thought of myself as a person, unless I had some sort of high rank or recognition.  

You can look at various emphases in art, literature and political life over the past 600 years or so and see that there has been a steady increase in the recognition of the inner life and the guiding intelligence inside each human being.  Writing, for self or others, is a good tool for expressing some of the inner as well as outer experiences of that self and what it has been like to be that person.  The idea that this store of intelligence and experience exists inside each person is just now emerging but tapping into it with writing, photography, poetry and other tools and records enriches us all.

Main blog: Fear, Fun and Filoz
Main web site: Kirbyvariety

Popular Posts

Follow @olderkirby