Why Write? If You Can’t Explain (or Show) Something, You Don’t Understand it


If you are unable in some form, whatever that might be, to demonstrate an idea through exemplification, if you are unable to show it in some way, then you can’t claim to have any kind of understanding of that idea at all. And the more precise way in which you’re able to explain, the better examples you’re able to provide along the way of your reasoning behind it, the more elaborate one is apropos a certain theoretical point, the better it can be said the understanding of something that person has.

The very way of providing an example shows the fact of understanding it, and the entire point of giving privilege to writing, instead of any other form of expression (painting or dancing or calculating… ), is my conviction that every and any form of human activity is already structured through thought, that is, that at some level, no matter if conscious or not, every action or activity a person engages is decided by his or her own understanding, and is always done according to some specific logic, and that very logic of an action can always also be exemplified and proven through the use of language, since for me proving and providing an example of something are one and the same.

I’m precisely not saying that all human activity is somehow inside language, since that would be quite an extreme case of reductionism. Being fully aware of the experience of ’not being able to express something in words’, of there being a sort of a failure of expression in using language as the primary medium of transmission, as in the case of a traumatic experience. What I am claiming though, is that in some theoretical way, every and any possible logical operation can be translated into the form of language, even for example the fact of being unable to put something into words.

Even the logic of trauma itself, the precise way trauma distorts language and the logic it follows, can itself be accurately represented. Maybe not by the very subject experiencing and undergoing it, due to the very presence of trauma distorting language, but it can maybe mostly be roughly outlined and hinted to, so at least in principle it is possible to translate it. It’s not only trauma that distorts language, it is in it’s very structure always already continously distorted, and that very distortion of language points to a particular singularity of experience of the writing subject.

So privileging writing as a form of expression, at this point purposefully done, and in this way also privileging language, has a certain reasoning behind it. So why not speech, that is, expression through voice, but rather the choice of writing, if language is here put as the privileged mode of expression? Isn’t the use of speech far more sincere, personal and intimate than the impersonal written form?

That in itself is already a very difficult problem and dilemma, something with which many authors have dealt with. Of course speech is in some way more sincere and expresses a person’s emotional experience far better than an individual might be able to demonstrate in pure written form. We’re all familiar with the fact of misinterpreting someone’s writing simply due to there being a lack of provided punctuation and emphasis, and the entire emotional colouring that the human voice could and does provide to the texture of writing. But the very fact of providing one’s own logical reasoning behind some specific idea is best achieved through the entirely abstract written form itself.

Even emotions can be entirely accurately expressed in written form, although it’s true that in this way of translation some impact, the very emotional impact of the message conveyed in this way, is to a great extent lost. I’m not arguing against the use and expression through emotion: emotional experience is no less important or somehow less valuable than the boring categories of reason and the use of formal argumentation. But emotional experience is often very deceiving, and doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with truth as such.

Emotional experience has more to do with the current state of mind and bodily experience in a given situation, and far less with any sort of understanding; in any case, emotions themselves can be (and often are) entirely logically analysed and described in written form, even though that might have a reductive effect in the way it leaves an impact. Let’s take an experience of listening a complex piece of music as an example—anyone vaguely familiar with the theory of music can see precisely how even what appears to be extremely subjective and emotional experiences of listening to a musical piece, can in fact be carefully analysed, described, translated into, explained and communicated through the use of language, no matter how difficult that task may appear to be. It’s not that we should replace the music and just always focus on writing; it’s just that no matter how complex something might appear to be, it is in principle translatable into writing, even if certain situations might prevent an actual realisation of that in a specific case.

Individual experience and emotions are something very real, but the the use of, and translating that into language, is what makes those obtain a universal form. I choose to privilege language and writing as a form of expression, because I believe those have much more to do with their specific relation to the very universal dimension of human experience, far more than any other practical concern.

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