Thursday, February 16, 2012


Writing is a strange thing.

It transforms the world. Once you get to a certain level of proficiency, things don't mean what they mean anymore. They rather start do mean what you make of them - they bend to your will, if you only know how to bend them.

Which, of course, means different things, depending on if you are the person writing or the person reading.

Being a writer, you can take just about anything and remix it into a new context. Which, once you figure out you can do it, is a powerful tool to use and misuse. Suddenly, things are not what they seem, and even the seeming can be remodeled with the addition of more words. Whatever is, is not as given as mere acceptance would have it to be.

It is not out of place to call it a sense of power.

Being a reader, you do not feel this, in any sense. You are, as it were, left to others' literary or rhetorical devices. Text is something that comes in packages, and that has to be processed as is. They confront you, rather than the other way around.

It is not out of place to call it a sense of powerlessness.

Replace 'writer' and 'reader' with 'producer' and 'consumer', and strange things happen to the way you look at the world. Not only when considering that many politicians have gotten into the habit of calling citizens consumers, but also when considering that many citizens have gotten into the habit of writing.

Back in the olden days, when the conditions for those who wanted to write with any amount of readership were such that any aspiring writer had to go though endless hoops and tribulations to get anywhere, the distinction between producers and consumers made more sense. The rift was large enough to exclude most people from the act of writing in public, and made even larger by the mindset that it is useless to put effort into learning to write because of this rift.

Only people who can get readers have any use of the skill, after all. And why waste time on something that won't benefit you?

Now, of course, things are a tad bit different. The fact that you are reading these words, right here, right now, is proof enough that the act of public writing is far easier done than said nowadays. But that mindset, that way of viewing writing as a skill that only certain professions and weirdoes have a need to master - it prevails. Lives on.

There are many walls that need to be torn down. Some are brute, physical, like the one in Berlin. Others are more subtle, social, and need a more recontextualizing approach.

Fortunately, the writing is already on the wall. Unfortunately, writing on walls is still considered a crime.

 In oh so many readings of the word.

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