The thought provoking Lesley has provoked some thoughts, which, in line with her post, has given me the urge to write them down.
I’d agree with the sentiment of spiritedcrone’s comment – that writing is prayer; though from an atheist perspective I’d say writing and meditation, or simply productive exploratory thought, are part of the same process, and writing is the foundation of all productive thought, including philosophy, maths, science, poetry, prose, fiction. If we are flexible enough with the medium then any of the visual, audio, tactile arts fall into the same pattern.
The point being that to write (or paint…) is simply a means of recording and organising one’s thoughts for a productive purpose. Even if that’s in a personal journal that no one else ever sees – and in this respect a blog is a brilliant medium for sharing some of our thoughts, whether we offer them up as words of wisdom, or as appeals for interaction. We are our own librarians.
I’m often struck by how often I have thoughts I wish I could record, but don’t have the means. Driving and listening to a radio broadcast and knowing that some of my ideas will be gone by the time I can record them. I often walk listening to podcasts, and for repeated ones I know that on a previous hearing I had a thought about some point but can’t recall it. Despite this frustration, so far, I’ve resisted carrying a separate voice recorder, to record my thoughts, because I’d have to spend further hours transcribing them. I’m waiting for the thought-transcription gizmo – maybe an app on the iPhone version 20.0. Or a separate device – the iThink?
I feel that without writing, my life would be an endless stream of fleeting events and ephemeral thoughts that would rarely lead to anything. I want to feel in control of my thoughts, and writing gives me this control. And this from someone who thinks there is no free-will – at least not as many of us normally think of it. I want (ok – this organism has a biological urge) to learn something from the electrical impulses that flit through my brain. The biological mush between my ears doesn’t have the appropriate fidelity when it comes to recording ideas. We need other tools.
How many of us who are parents have held on to the treasures that are the school work of our children.
My father was keen on electronics in its early days. I have a notebook of his, with jottings and drawings. It’s not prose. My wife has notes and the odd letter of her mother’s, tucked into her mother’s bible. They’re the only writings we have from them, and as little as they are they are valuable to us. It seems so little. But, archaeologists drool over any fragment from the past of human inscription – even if it’s only the scraping of lines on a bone. We take what we can get.
How many are lucky enough to have family treasures of writings from dead parents or grand parents, or even ancestors you never knew? How many are published? What does it feel like to be a descendant of Darwin, for example?
Transcribing our thoughts, from cave paintings, through hieroglyphs, to writing as we know it, has been maybe the greatest invention of human beings. Writing has given us the capacity to do more than simply conceive of continuity. It has made it real for each of us, within our personal lives; and for some it has made them effectively immortal, at least to others if not themselves.