You Don't Want to Forget this so Write it Down

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"If you ask a person to explain his or her statement, you can at least get an attempt at explanation: if you ask a text, you get the nothing except the same, often stupid words which called for your question in the first place" (Ong, 319).

This quote is from Walter Ong's chapter in Writing Material titled, "Writing Is a Technology that Restructures Thought".  He is describing the meaning behind what Plato has Socrates explaining about the product of writing.

I have a deep relationship with my writing most of the time, but when I read this quote, I couldn't agree more that writing makes it easier to fake your way through.  By that I mean sometimes when asked to explain something in class, it is easier to make up explanations along the way while writing a paper rather then trying to orally explain it in class.  There are times when I have no idea what I am explaining but if I just keep writing it can usually seem like I have some idea.  I never thought about that until reading this quote and now I feel like that can be a downfall to the written word.

"Those who use writing will become forgetful, relying on an external source for what they lack in internal resources.  Writing weakens the mind" (Ong, 319).

As I have explained in my recent blogs, I believe writing to enhance the mind and only strengthen what we already have.  Writing helps me to not forget.  I will write and rewrite parts of a study guide for class because the more I write it down, the deeper it becomes ingrained in my mind.  Perhaps this works differently for all people.  I don't know if there is some scientific explanation for why physically writing something helps me remember while it helps other people to forget:  There is always more to learn I suppose.

"Nevertheless, by contrast with natural, oral speech, writing is completely artificial.  There is no way to write 'naturally'.  Oral speech is fully natural to human beings in the sense that every human being in every culture who is not physiologically or psychologically impaired leans to talk" (Ong, 322).

Ong goes on to explain that he is not against writing and lists some pro's of the written word.  I, however, think writing has the power to come so naturally to a person.  I do not always feel natural when I write, for instance when I have to write term paper's or informational essays.  But when I am writing for myself, or particularly reflective essays, I find myself writing naturally and I know this because I can feel it; and some things you just can't explain.

Furthermore, I feel that if oral speech comes so naturally as a privilege to those human beings who can learn it, then wouldn't writing be considered the ultimate privilege?  There are many people who do not have the ability to read or write, so there should be some high respect for those who have the knowledge of literature. 

"Art imitates nature.  Art follows nature, and joins itself to nature.  Art is second nature.  But it is not nature...We are not born with art but add it to ourselves" (Ong, 323).

I loved this quote because writing is an art form.  I work with that side of my brain; the side that works through art, english, writing, and anything else that doesn't involve math or science.  Sometimes I do feel like art is nature.  When I am watching a sunset or witnessing a beautiful scene, I think how God is such a wonderful artist; but that is also just me delving into my faith as it too is a large part of my life.


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