A Theory

Written language is an entirely human creation. From the first stone carvings on a cave wall to the text on display before you, only the human species could devise such a complicated system of communication. Communication is my theory of writing. Allow me to explain: When wise men recorded observations in nature or their own psyche, they at first wrote to preserve their knowledge for future reference. I suspect those who possessed the skill frequently wrote in journals. The written word, as we know, is the oldest form of knowledge preservation. Written language does not have to be alphabetical; the Latin alphabet as we know it did not come to be until the 7th century BC, where it was adapted from the Greek alphabet. Apart from preserving knowledge, writing is also a form of communication. Not rudimentary communication, but deeper. The written word, if composed by someone of sufficient skill, can convey the innermost feelings of the writer. The Metaconcept reading had one particular line that caught my eye. I happen to agree that writing can “connect us to other people across time and space” (18). My love for Interstellar is in no way attributed to this observation. But, anything written down does transcend time and space. Recorded writings can remain legible for millenia, but written word that is then dictated orally can last until time itself stops. If a poet can inspire billions, then an author can shape entire cultures. If a legislator can draft laws to oppress millions, then a leader can liberate them through oral diction. Writing one’s thoughts is, in my experience, a far more effective means of communication than the spoken word. Not all individuals are this way, but for those who cannot speak their mind properly, literacy and the written word are the cornerstones of their being. From those two things, I can formulate stronger and more articulate arguments than if I were put on the spot in person. Writing gives the individual more time to carefully structure their positions, and to give greater detail to those positions. I postulate this as my theory because of one really quite depressing reason: when we are dead and gone, all that will be left of our existence is what we write down.

  2 comments for “A Theory

  1. kjaxon
    February 5, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    This is such a generative post Alec. I find myself puzzling over your strong claims:
    “the written word, as we know, is the oldest form of knowledge preservation.”
    “when we are dead and gone, all that will be left of our existence is what we write down.”

    I wonder if others would argue that oral transmission of knowledge is the oldest form? Writing is a fairly new technology compared to oral traditions, particularly the use of stories as a way to pass on culture and knowledge. And I wonder if the new form will be video and screen time? I think all that will be left of my existence will be found in images (pictures), writing, and video. Your generation has video from birth even. As screens become more ubiquitous, will we shift back to a predominately oral culture (lots of google hangouts and skype)? Will film and digital video be the way for ideas to transform time and space?

    Thank you for the insights!

  2. Elisa Preston
    Elisa Preston
    February 6, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    Hey Alec,

    I feel like you should throw some more citations in here lol… (jk). While reading your post, I kept thinking about how many papers I’ve spilled tea/coffee on, and how many my cat has bitten the corners of, resulting in a look akin to attempting to use a jammed stapler way too many times before you realize there’s a problem. I’m starting to think that these writings will [thankfully] not outlive me with the way I “care” for them. (I never make an effort to extract files off of my computers when they die.) Or are you also referring to posts on the Internet, like this? I see what you mean though, especially when thinking of respected, or just known-at-all authors. There’s something immortalizing about writing that has become known to others.

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