What is Writing? by Ocean
What, exactly, is this weird practice, compulsion, or activity called "writing"?
And when, exactly, did it first emerge as a human activity?
We all are familiar with the ancient Egyptian - actually, not as ancient as most of us think, since it is actually from the Hellenistic era - scribe, seated, inscribing tool in hand, his face a study in abject interest.
Or was it a practiced expression of fear? I mean, who of us would have dared to act bored about something a Pharoah was uttering, while we were meant to take dictation?
This was, doubtless, one of the oldest depictions we still have, and yet writing is itself much older in human history.
It had begun as a series of pictures to describe experiences, ideas, feelings, and thoughts, plans, and to send messages, and evolved into symbols for pictures at first, and then distilled into combinations of symbols for more and more complex records of communication.
The Chinese have had it for eons - a form of written records.
And many other cultures as well in ancient times had ways of recording facts.
Even the grocery lists of the old Roman sites bring tears ot our eyes.
How mundane the tasks of most of our lives - how close to them we feel when we know that they - the ancients - carried on in much the same way as we do now - ordinary chores and all.
Yes, writing - even fragments - bring us close to truths, remind us of historical happenings, and open our hearts.
Writing can move us, stoke movements that change events - think of Uncle Tom's Cabin -, help to fell empires, and do many other things as well - like, notably, keeping us sane.
As in the brilliant workbook entitled, The Artist's Way, people can use their own written words, strung together, day by day, as life ropes in order to transforms their lives.
As any psychologist or self-help group knows, writing, with its' wiring leading from the brain through the nerves of our bodies to the fingers, can rid the body and soul of turmoil and tumultuous emotions that impede the organisms called ourselves, and can relieve pressures that nothing else can touch.
Writing is a healing, cathartic, and even an addictive practice - long considered a magical practice - once very suspect - that was owned and secreted only by a select few.
For many ages, the knowledge of writing - making meaningful symbols - was thought of as almost a black art, and scribes were like shamen.
Helpful at times, writers - transcribers, translators, and all - have through much of time been paid a pittance to write to relatives of people who had no way of writing themselves, and have therefore brought great tidings to people and drawn them together in ways that otherwise would have been then impossible.
Writing can soothe the writer and the written to, it can transfer knowledge and wisdom, it can record happenings, it can even display religiosity, as in Islam, where no image of anything God-made is allowed, and where only ornate, and very beautiful calligraphy of holy words and the name of God suffice for devotional ornamentation.
From the first finger-drawn symbol in the sand, long ago, somewhere in the world to the gorgeous monk-drawn Biblical iconic, gilded artwork of the Middle Ages, to our computer driven words spilling out on billions of personal word processing machines all over our globe, writing has become the domain of everyman, and will only, perhaps, continue to streamline, to refine, and alas, to omit the details that had once made language such a marvelous means of expression.
After all, as my German-speaking friends say, English is such a primitive, limited language, whereas German, as well as many other languages, have many words for things that English speakers only have one. Despite our less-than-rich choice of words, despite the technical omission of description, I hope that colorful and even flowery language, thick with adjectives, will survive, if only in poetry.
It seems that we will all, soon, be again using only the voice to write with, as the software becomes better, and the practice of holding a pen in hand will seem completely archaic, as will typing itself.
I hope writing itself will survive, in fact, grammatical errors, fewer descriptive words, less flamboyance and all !