MeganSeigh: February 2010 Archives

Speaking to Writing: A Digital Portfolio

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I never expected to learn so much about something as simple as writing.  In fact, I learned that it isn't so simple after all.  This first unit in Media of Cultures, our class talked about the transformation from oral to written communication.  Some of the texts included Writing Material and The Muse Learns to Write.  Both books offered different insight and opinions on the issues of speaking orally and writing.

Though I do not have anything against oral communication, I sided with the idea that writing is most beneficial and most important for every day life.  Along with this talk about spoken and written word, there were discussions on the use and affect of technology from past to present and even what it might progress to in the future.  Writing, for me, has definitely been more popular then speaking, but as I read the text and discussed in class I realized the very important benefits of oral communication and I found myself enjoying the discussions immensely.

Now I will take you through a long few weeks of blog entries which introduce my thoughts on writing and oral communication and one would notice the progression I had from strongly disliking oral communication, to finding some sense in it.

Coverage:  I never missed a blog assignment in this first unit about oral and written communication.  The amount of time and effort I put into each blog shows that I was analyzing the readings and anxious to get my thoughts out for my classmates to view.  I could honestly say that each and every one of my blog entries showed coverage, but here are a few that I was most proud of along with a few blogs from my peers which mentions my work.

  • PowerPoints Here is a blog from one of my classmates which mentions my blog about the idea and use of PowerPoint presentations.
  • Technology  This is another blog from a different classmate of mine which mentions my blog about Howard Rheingold's chapter in the book Writing Material about Amish people and their views on technology.
  • Greek Power This blog is an example of how I sometimes 'cover' talking about one of my blogs in another blog by linking to it rather than writing the same response.

Depth:  There were countless blog entries of mine which showed my ability to go above and beyond expectation.  These are my blogs which linked to further details on certain subjects and show numerous quotes from the texts that we used for class.

  • Write it Down This blog was exceptionally lengthy and full of links and quotes about Walter Ong's chapter in Writing Material which talks about spoken and written word.
  • A Boring Default This was my PowerPoint blog that showed the in depth thought I put into covering this issue of technology.
  • Extend Our Brains Here is a blog that I focused a lot on radio broadcasting and shared links and many quotes to further emphasize my thoughts on technology.

Interactions:  My classmates have had many interesting thoughts about the subject matter in the classroom, and I certainly wanted to let them know how I felt about their opinions; always in a polite manner.  These are some of my peers blogs that I made comments on along with my blogs that link to my peers.

  • Silent Paper On Maddie's blog, I shared my similar opinion with her on oral vs. the written word.
  • Holograms This is my comment on Tiffany's blog about how I enjoyed her thoughts on how technology will progress in the future.
  • No Limits This is my blog which links to Maddie's blog about the use of grammar in the English language.

Discussions:  I always enjoy reading and hearing what my classmates have to say about my thoughts and opinions.  These blog entries show that certain blogs of mine sparked interest and comments along with discussions from my peers.

  • Amish In The City This blog was reflecting the reading Amish and their reasoning for living without technology.
  • Homer and the Iliad This shorter blog caused discussion on my classmates opinions about a certain passage from Homers' Iliad.
  • PowerPoint Here is a blog which expresses my opinion on the use of PowerPoint.  It caused some difference of opinion between someone who is not a classmate of mine along with someone who is.

Timeliness:  My ability to submit my blogs at least 24 hours before class discussions was not much of an issue in this first unit.  My time management skills came in handy to insure that I posted my blogs early enough to especially create some online discussion.  Since most of my blogs were submitted in a timely manner, here are a few select blogs to take a look at.

  • Don't Forget This I submitted this blog well before the due date and I wrote about Walter Ong's essay about written and oral communication.
  • YouTube Blog This blog, that talked mostly about the use of YouTube nowadays, was my most timely blog.
  • Talking and Writing Here is another blog about my views on the spoken word which shows my timeliness.

Xenoblogging:  I love when I receive comments on my blogs, so I enjoy returning the favor to my peers.  Here are some of my peers blog entries which I made sure to offer my opinions and boost some online conversation for the topic they were talking about.

  • Chelsea's Blog Here is when I offered my similar views to the use of PowerPoint.
  • Maddie's Blog I commented on Maddie's blog how I agreed with her explanation about reading stories.
  • Erica's Blog On Erica's blog, she talked about her views on Homer's Iliad, and I politely disagreed with her view on the subject and offered my own opinion.

Wildcard:  Although I have linked to a majority of my blogs form the beginning of this semester, there are always a few stragglers.  Here are a few blogs that I think prove the passion and thought that goes into writing them.

  • The Muse Learns to Write I loved writing this blog because I discovered a few things about myself.  Plus there was some great conversation attached.
  • English Language Here is a blog from another class which shows how I don't think English is so ordinary and the comments developed some interesting conversation.
  • Plato's Discovery This is a blog that I just enjoyed writing because the Socrates passage caught my attention and I wanted to write out my views on the spoken and written word.  Plus it received a comment!
Enjoy, and I'll see you for my next blogging portfolio in a few weeks!  In the meantime, take a look at my classmates' portfolio's.

Human Discovered or God Created?

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"The dedicated scribe, the object or our treatise, will never fail to praise God, give pleasure to angels, strengthen the just, convert sinners, commend the humble, confirm the good, confound the proud and rebuke the stubborn" (Trithemius, 470).

I have never heard such a holy description about writing which came from Johannes Trithemius' chapter in Writing Material.  It is refreshing to know that other people think this way besides the priests and deacons of my parish at home.  I think this portrays a writer as a kind of 'warrior' ready to take on the evil of the world and transform it into good.  The quote continues with this:

"There is nothing more salutary than this office, or more commendable than this piety which is loved by God, praised by the angels and admired by the citizens of heaven" (Trithemius, 470).

It is important to sometimes think of writing as doing some good for God.  I know it helps me but that might be because of my strong religious faith; it certainly hits home.  I know that people need reasons for everything; they want answers all of the time.  This is a great passage to really analyze and think, "Maybe this is why writing was created." I read this passage and thought about the many times I have had a profound thought and there is no one around to hear it so I write it down.  It certainly becomes easier and easier to build on the thought when I can just keep writing, stop and think, and then keep writing again.  We were built to write; our hands can prove that which brings me to this next part of the passage when Trithemius writes about a pious brother at a monastery who copied books.  

He writes, "...it was discovered that the three fingers of his right hand, with which he had written so many books, were as preserved and fresh as if buried the day before.  Of the rest of the body nothing remained but bones.  This proves how sacred the task of the scribe is in the eyes of God who so honored even in death the limbs of the scribe to demonstrate to the living the merits of his work" (Trithemius, 474).

This gave me something to think about.  When I think something is a sign, I take it close to heart.  This quote is a great example of people looking at a situation and taking it as a sign from God; we were meant to write.  How else would the stories from the Bible been passed through each century?  When I think about all of those stories; the many religious stories I have been told or read, I think about how God must of figured that word-of-mouth wasn't going to be good enough for thoughts and stories are so complex.  Even too complex for the mind.  It is better to have them written down so we can take in the information as slowly and intricately as we want to.

Handwriting for Dummies

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I loved my handwriting lessons in elementary school.  At first, learning to connect the letters was difficult, but as I grew stronger in the skill I noticed that my handwriting was better then my much older brother and sister.  I was so proud of myself for writing so neatly and I always received praise for it.

I attended a Catholic elementary school so we had to hand write our papers all of the time.  However, once I started going to public school, I didn't have to hand write my papers anymore, I could type them on the computer so that's exactly what I did, and after a few years of not using my handwriting skill; I lost it.  Sure, I can still hand write beautifully but not nearly as well as I could when I was very young and that is one of the things I regret about switching to public school.

Here is a quote from Naomi Baron's chapter in the book Writing Material:

"By the middle of the nineteenth century, handwriting moved from an art to a science.  No longer was handwriting simply a mechanical skill.  Instead, it was seen as involving both mind and body, 'an active process in which the soul was uplifted and the body disciplined...'" (Baron, 58-59).

Looking at this quote, I could definitely agree that handwriting is an important skill.  It involves mind and body because you have to feel your way through the letters to connect them.  People have many different ways for writing their "cursive" words and sometimes you can easily tell the who's handwriting it is by how big their loops are and how they cross their 't's.

I love the idea of handwriting analysis.  I was a part of it at a party in junior high.  This lady just had us write a few sentences on a piece of paper and she looked at it and analyzed.  There is a lot you can tell by looking at someone's handwriting.  There was a girl with some "shakiness" to her handwriting which the analyzer explained showed nervousness.  I could tell the difference between the long, smooth strokes of someone's calm handwriting and then the jaggy edges of another persons harsh handwriting.

I practice my handwriting with my signature most often but I would like to eventually get back the talent I had for it.  That is one of the benefits of learning handwriting when you are a developing child; it becomes easy and fast to perfect.



Diagnosing and Analyzing

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While reading Joseph M. Williams Style, I especially liked reading his section on "Diagnosis and Revision."  He talked about being able to discover the placement of verbs and actions in any sentences.  I thought about his method and after reading the section on diagnosing, analyzing, and rewriting, I decided it would probably be more beneficial to correct my sentences as best I can as I write them.  Otherwise, I'm looking at hours of revision if I'm going to follow his directions closely.

On the other hand, I can take what he has taught me about diagnosing the problems and scale it down for my benefit.  I plan on making sure the verbs and action words I use come at the right time in my sentences.  After reading this chapter, I thought about all the times my sentences sounded like this:

"Once upon a time, as a walk through the woods was taking place on the part of Little Red Riding Hood, the Wolf's jump out from behind a tree occurred, causing her fright" (27).

I wrote this way because, on occasion, it sounded more professional.  There were other times when I didn't know how the sentence was going to end until I ended it and it sounded like the above sentence but I wouldn't feel like changing it.  Well, it looks like I'm going to avoid these mishaps and avoid going through the entire analyzing process by thinking about my sentences carefully before I write them down.

Starting off on the 'Write' Foot

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"...describing the persons and functions of the Muses for whom he composes his introductory hymn.  To begin with, they are the offspring of a union between Zeus and Mnemosume, usually translated as "memory"..." (Havelock, 79).

Eric Havelock's talk of Greek Muses, from "The Muse Learns to Write", in the beginning of the chapter The Special Theory of Greek Orality, made me think of the Disney movie Hercules.  Immediately the song from the beginning of the movie got stuck in my head, "We are the muses; protectors of Gods and heros like Hercules."  I also thought of the Olympics.  Coincidentally the winter Olympics are occurring right now, so it has been on my mind since I usually watch as much as I can.  

The Olympics were in Athens, Greece not too many years ago.  As I read these pages I really felt the sophistication of Greece and its people.  What's interesting is that I don't think people have a lot to say about Greece right now.  It is a beautiful country but it has been on the "down low" for a while.  However, look at everything they have accomplished; the scholars who created the greek alphabet, and the creators of the Olympic games. These are some big milestones.

"By the beginning of the fourth century, literate intellectuals began to attend to the act of memorization itself, considered as a necessary technique to be learned.  The need would only occur to them as the result of delayed recognition of an exercise that was slowly but surely becoming obsolete in their own day..." (Havelock, 80).

The idea of memorization being transformed from something that seemed weak to something that was a tool for strengthening knowledge shows how mature we, as people, continue to grow.  I had always said, as in my other blogs, that memorizing is a way to further connect with the material you want to get to know.  Now, the weak seem to be the ones who do not take the time to memorize and therefore, forget what they are even studying in the first place.  It is too interesting to think of how these intellectual people came up with memorizing.  This is something that seems like an all-too obvious act of learning material but it had to have been created somewhere; so it stated with these people.  It started with the idea that once one starts to take too much time in responding or recognizing something, then there must be a way to prevent it from happening: Genius.

Centuries later, this kind of revelation seems so obvious but what other revelations have we not come up with that might seem obvious in the future?  I always think of this.  When I see new inventions or new ways of learning I always think, "Well of course!  This makes sense and I don't know why I wasn't the one who thought of it." I wasn't the one who thought of it because to most people, nothing seems that obvious.  We are living in a world where we have every kind of technology and many ways that make things easier for us; as a result, there is nothing more we can imagine.  All of this just means we are looking too hard, and maybe we should take a lesson from the Greeks and other scholars and take time in searching for the ideas that will make life better in some ways.


Talking and Writing; Both Important

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"Once inscribed, the words in a document become fixed, and the order in which they appear is fixed.  All the spontaneity, mobility, improvisation, the quick responsiveness of spoken speech vanishes" (Havelock 70).

After some detailed class discussions on the obvious importance of the spoken word, and this text by Eric A. Havelock titled The Muse Learns to Write, I have decided to be more lenient in accepting this form of communication.  I have always sided with the idea that writing makes more sense the orally speaking, and in many cases I can still agree with that because that is what I do; I write.  However, when I think about this quote and I think about the passion that is also behind oral communication; I can agree that it takes experience, knowledge, and a love for the spoken word to orally present thoughts and ideas.

Writing is fixed, but that is a certain fact that I love about the written word; it cannot be changed.  Stories are stuck in stone when they are written and that is the beauty of being able to write.  I don't want the words to change or the story to change; I want my stories to be read word for word.  This is the textual side of me speaking, but I do have an oral side even though it is small.  I love to talk but not just talk, sometimes I love to present.  I cannot just stand somewhere and talk, I need to use props, gestures, pictures, and if I could I would love to always use text.
  
"This kind of language has an importance which casual talk never has" (Havelock 70).

Havelock goes on to say that society does rely on an oral communication but it cannot survive without the documents and the written fixed statements.  I am sure there has to be some compromise between spoken and written word.  Society cannot survive without either of these forms of communication because we need to hear something and we need to see it in writing; I think that could be in an agreement with many people.  

There is another quote by Havelock that I loved; "Such language has to be memorized.  There is no other way of guaranteeing its survival" (Havelock 70).  There are two ways we learn language in society today.  As toddler, we learn to speak by just listening to the spoken word around us.  That mental process still astounds me; how can we just know what objects and words mean?  This  can seem so simple and so difficult to understand at the same time.  The other way we learn language is by reading it.  Sometimes it is hard for us to understand the specific meaning of something without reading the sentence in which it has context.  Both way's of learning are impossible for human's to get by without knowing; we need both oral and written communication to continually educate society.

The Muse Learns to Write; And so Have I

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The Muse Learns to Write, by Erin A. Havelock has been an interesting read about the evolving art of oral communication into writing.

"Yes texts have been made to speak, after a fashion.  Indeed, they were first "published" by being read aloud.  The audience who listened carried the word to others" (Havelock 47).

There is something interesting about the idea that texts were considered "published" by just being read aloud to an audience.  Oh if that were only true now.  I cannot imagine a world where the written and spoken words are so respected that people listen with great intent and obligation to pass on the stories.  There was so much respect for literature and dialogue in the early years of communication.  I write thousands of words a day: in emails, text messages, notes in class; is that not still a privilege?  I am writing a story right now that contains a lifetime of knowledge on the written word; and in the past few weeks I have been reading about how writing was once something a slave did which then it turned into a respected privilege.

"It would seem to follow that, while speech obviously is spoken by persons who may think they are speaking as individuals, and addressing themselves to individual interests, its primary function is likely to be one that serves collectivist purposes" (Havelock 54).

Is this a mathematical equation?  Indeed; when I speak for myself, I generally want to propose my ideas so other people will change their minds and agree with me.  I don't just mean for some kind of debate, because even when someone is just telling a story, there is still a hope of someone else agreeing with you.  Everyone wants respect for the idea's and thoughts they speak aloud.  So, I agree with this quote by Havelock, that people who think they are speaking for themselves still hope to gather the same opinion from others:  Almost as if they are hoping the conversation will lead to a whirl wind of similar situations and stories that can be shared and helpful to everyone in the group.

When it comes to writing, I would ultimately say that I write for myself.  However, when I think about  writing in my journal, or anywhere for that matter, I do something picture how other people would read it and if it would cause inspiration in others.  I am a big fan of inspiring people.  I love to write about my experiences and hope to one day write an inspiring novel.  For now, I will take into consideration that I am not always thinking for my benefit only; someone else or people in general are usually attached to the other end of the thought.

There is No Limit to Learning

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This chapter titled "Correctness", from the book Style by Joseph Williams, packed a punch.  Williams starts out simple by writing, "To a careful writer, nothing is more important than choice, but in some matters, we have none - we can't put the after a noun, as in street the.  But we choose when we can" (Williams, 8).

I followed his knowledge clearly as I read, but Williams put many rules and clarifications into 18 printed pages; and that is a lot to take in at once.  For instance, what are Hobgoblins?  This is what Williams says about it, "For some reason, a handful of items has become the object of particularly zealous abuse.  There's no explaining why; none of them interferes with clarity or concision" (Williams, 19).  This is the first rule he puts with the explanation: "Never use like for as or as if."

Now I feel as if I am really learning something.  (As you can see, I had resisted using the word 'like' in that sentence).

Williams goes on to talk about words that attract special attention, (some of which I learned a more sufficient definition for) and then pronouns, clauses, and folklore: Oh my!  I now know that I have to reread this chapter a few times to fully comprehend these rules; most of which I learned in middle school but couldn't always remember.  All of these grammar technicalities rub me the wrong way.

I feel the same way as my classmate Maddie does about grammar; I never really caught on when I first learned it and I always based my knowledge of sentence structure on what sounded right to me.  However, after reading this chapter and already applying some of the rules to my writing, I have high hopes for the rest of this book and what affect it will have on my writing structure.



A Boring Default: Otherwise known as PowerPoint

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After watching Don McMillan's YouTube video on PowerPoint, I really enjoyed reading this chapter of Writing Material called Absolute PowerPoint, by Ian Parker.

"Because PowerPoint can be an impressive antidote to fear - converting public-speaking dread into moviemaking pleasure - there seems to be no great impulse to fight this influence, as you might fight the unrelenting animated paperclip in Microsoft Word" (Parker, 354).

Since I have owned my Macintosh computer, the dancing paperclip of Microsoft Word has not graced its presence on my screen in a while; so unfortunately I cannot give my opinion on that.  However, I can agree and oppose to both sides of this argument; though the latter might be heavier.

PowerPoint has always given me more comfort with public speaking during mandatory presentations.  I am better with public speaking now that I'm older but using something like PowerPoint as a distraction really relaxed me in front of an audience a few years ago.  And yes, I truly think PowerPoint is a distraction.  There is nothing I dislike more during a student presentation then than when the student writes paragraphs on the slides and reads it; along with putting the text on a background that is unreadable to the audience.  There are also many times when students in my classes had picked the same default presentation sleds and that made deja-vu a frequent occurrence.

When I want to hear an educational presentation than PowerPoint is helpful: When used correctly.  Bullet points make note taking easier and provides clearer explanations for ideas that I might otherwise not understand.  When I want to hear a powerful and emotional presentation that I want the speaker to talk freely to the audience rather than hiding behind their slides.

"This is the most common complaint about PowerPoint.  Instead of human contact, we are given human display" (Parker, 355).

As said in the text by Parker, there is a certain amount of competition in a classroom of students giving PowerPoint presentations to visually see who has the most information and who can use PowerPoint best.  I always find myself not paying attention during presentations because the speaker's voice becomes monotone.

I do not see many benefits to this technology.  Teachers must know that many students get lazy when it comes to presenting using PowerPoint; this doesn't influence them to learn the information they are teaching.  There is nothing worse then a teacher passing out random topics to their class because many students get topics they could care less about; and therefore won't present it well.  Giving a presentation without PowerPoint is nerve-racking but it is a chance to find other ways to engage an audience.  The best insight teachers could give to students is teaching them ways to help learn their material and be engaged in it so they have the chance to engage their peers.

YouTube: Another Reliable Source...

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I had watched the YouTube video, How NOT To Use Powerpoint 3 years ago in a business class and the effect of humor it has on me is still the same.

Don McMillan points out the obvious problems that people encounter when using powerpoint during presentations.  My thoughts are that people who are not comfortable with oral speaking, hide behind their fancy usage of powerpoint.  This video shows the terrible effects that the written word has on an oral presentation.  This supports Socrates in his explanations of the written word  causing a laziness and forgetfulness of the thought process.  As I have explained in my other recent blogs, I consider the written word to be a useful tool and that also includes my thoughts after I watched this video.

The exert I had read from Anthony Di Renzo's "His Master's Voice: Tiro and the Rise of the Roman Secretarial Class," popped into my head as I was watching and reflecting on this video.  Di Renzo wrote, "The written word was only a silent monument to deeds and words - important sure, but still secondary.  Literature as we know it, barely existed."

Oral presentations are not under a rule where they have to be given using powerpoint or technology of that nature.  This YouTube video gave me the impression that a presentation has to be given with the correct use of powerpoint but does it have to be given by powerpoint at all?  Of course it doesn't.  Any professional oral speaker would know that the most affective speech is given when the presenter is fully engaged in their audience; of course if a few slides on a powerpoint are necessary then that is still appropriate.

I do not think this video has anything to do with the written word being less important than the spoken word.  The use of text was being used as something humorous and unnecessary in the video.  I have witnessed a lot of terrible powerpoint presentations in college when the students are just lazy and rely on reading the text without adding anything else, so I can agree with what McMillan was saying about how sloppy it looks.  However, in regards to how this relates to the power of the written word; well, I think it is unreliable. 

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.


Lesson 1: Time to Pay Attention

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I read the first lesson in Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace by Joseph M. Williams, and recovered some interesting information.

"Mencken was right:  no one learns to write well by rule, especially those who cannot feel or think or see.  But I know that many do see clearly, feel deeply, and think carefully but can't write sentences that make their thoughts, feelings, and visions clear to others.  I also know that the more clearly to write, the more clearly we see and feel and think" (Williams, 6).

When I read this quote, I felt a connection to what Williams was talking about.  I know from experience that when I write in my journal, sometimes I cannot write exactly how I am feeling no matter how much I think about it and try to make the words work.  I think I am a talented writer but when it comes to describing emotions that don't even have a name for themselves?  Well, then I think it would be hard for anyone to make the right words work.

Furthermore, Williams says the more clearly we write, the more clearly we see and feel and think.  When I right the perfect sentence about the way I am feeling then I truly do feel that way for  a while.  It is almost as if I took an unknown feeling and made my own meaning for it.  I love when I can write and write and it all fits into place; it all makes sense.

"In all of this, of course, there is a great irony:  we are likely to confuse others when we write about a subject that confuses us" (Williams, 5).

When I read more on this lesson about understanding style, I realized that writing in my journal is purely writing for myself.  I still found it helpful to understand when I read Williams' above quotes because they expressed how writing makes me feel, but I want to make other people feel the same way.  When I write so clearly for myself it makes me want to write in a language that everyone can understand and benefit from; so learning this technique is a goal of mine.



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"The written word was only a silent monument to deeds and words - important, to be sure, but still secondary.  Literature, as we know it, barely existed."  This was an exert from Anthony Di Renzo's "His Master's Voice: Tiro and the Rise of the Roman Secretarial Class."  Journal of Technical Writing and Communication.

It is hard for me to imagine that during a time of such beautiful language and probably even more beautiful craftsmanship, there was not much, if any scribes written down.  The language used was so unique and thanks to Tiro, sentences and grammar started coming into play.  It is funny that writing was once a symbol of prestige.  Nothing was written for any other purpose other than marking the territory of nobility.

Tiro's shorthand system became beneficial during times of great speeches and dialogue within the governments.  The socialites of the time would have benefited from Tiro's system of speed-writing in order to obtain as much information as possible.

"Since writing was a civic memory machine tended by servants, the Republican ruling class felt no need to calibrate it.  For convenience, certain abbreviations were used in monuments, most famously "S.P.Q.R.," Senatus Populusqu Romanus: the Senate and People of Rome."

Well society has sure gone down that path once again.  The amount of words that get abbreviated are absurd.  I am almost positive that some people are starting to abbreviate everything.  Is that because we have become lazy?  Or are we trying to be more creative and unique?  The times when I abbreviate most are in a text message when I am just about running out room.  I could never abbreviate orally; it just wouldn't happen.  This need for making words shorter is affecting the beauty and elegance that the written word entails.  We are forgetting that literature is "the art of written works." As such, Di Renzo has the right thought about the generation that will change what was once a regal art of scripts.

"Professional and institutional languages have become increasingly technical and abstract, while computers, E-mail, and faxes have dematerialized public space and public discourse.  Instead of being the rhetors of a virtual republic, we could become the scribes of a new empire."

Let's Extend Our Brains and Dig Deeper

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While reading The Muse Learns to Write by Eric A. Havelock, I was forced to really dig deeper on the subject of oral and literate culture.
 
"Is oral communication the instrument of an oral state of mind, a type of consciousness quite different from the literate state of mind?" (Havelock, 24).

Interesting.  I have always found myself to be more of a "written" word kind of person.  I love to really think thoughts through and then write them down to show what I've come up with.  I do think people have to be in an oral state of mind to be very advanced in speaking orally; it just comes too naturally for some people for me to think otherwise.

"More simply, did human beings once think differently from the way we do now, and do we now think differently from the way we may think in the future?" (Havelock, 27).

How can one really say that we think differently?  Thinking is all in the head.  It has to start out as a thought not yet spoken or written.  I am not so sure the way we initially think is much different but I have a feeling that the way we think about projecting our thoughts has changed.      If I start thinking about something sometimes I want to write it down and sometimes I store it in my brain for when I want to orally express that that to another person.  

Havelock writes about the progression of oral communication into the written word and then the written word into oral again using examples like the start of radio broadcasting.  

"We had all been listening to the radio, a voice of incessant utterance, orally communicating fact and intention and persuasion, borne on the airways to our ears" (Havelock, 30).

We have since progressed with television and music but are these things considered oral still?  The question is still brought up as we discussed in class:  Is this considered oral or textual?  My thoughts are that it is more textual because using the television as an example, it has become more like a book; seeing as you can record and rewind and go back to take notes or remember certain parts.  Oral to me is in the moment and live in front of you...you either get it or you don't.  When you get iPods and cell phones into the mix, it is all textual to me.  Maybe I am jumping the gun and perhaps if someone can tell me otherwise then I need a better understanding of the term textual; nonetheless, what we would once call "oral" communication has become simpler for us to control.

There are some other parts of these chapters that get a little too complex for me to even to be thinking about.  "It would seem to follow that, while speech obviously is spoken by persons who may think they are speaking as individuals, and addressing themselves to individual interests, its primary function is likely to be one that serves collectivist purposes" (Havelock, 54).  This quote almost seems too mathematical for me.  I have never thought so much about the spoken word in this context.  To me, this is like asking, "what came first, the chicken or the egg?"

If there is a bottom line, than for me it is saying that writing is concrete.  Even during my own discussions with people I will write down what I have just expressed out loud so as not to forget it.  Oral communication is important in connecting with an audience especially on important topics.  There are so many benefits to the spoken word but how else have people throughout the centuries learned about this topic?  They have learned about it just as we have; by reading it.  I am using written word right now by blogging so my classmates and others can read this.  There is just something about sitting down and concentrating on text to really flow through it and understand what it means.  The spoken word always gets my mind flowing but at the end of the day I am writing it all down or reading to find out more.