The most under-rated art: Writing (Part I)

The most under-rated art: Writing (Part I)

Establishing a shared method of communication is one of the key components of advancement into founding a civilization.

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Speaking, talking, singing, conveying our ideas to others, teaching and learning in a faster way, verbalizing feelings, rallying crowds or manipulating masses… it’s no surprise that the ability to have meaningful, oral communication with others, has put humanity on the top of the planetary food chain and made it possible for us to found an advanced civilization, where much stronger animal species like dinosaurs, bears, lions, and such never could.

Oral communication is always considered the most viable inter-human communication since we were cavemen; talk well to inspire an army into a triumph, beg for votes on a political campaign for a chance to rule the world, or simply express inner feelings to foreplay mating in a ‘civilized’ way.

Sounds the best?

But, for the likes of me (and hopefully for the likes of you when you finish reading this), it can only come after writing. It’s just much more than speeches can ever offer:

  • Oral communication is lost in the present whilst writing can travel forward and backward in time. Or else we wouldn’t be meddling to decipher ancient hieroglyphs or send letters and emails to others for a future read. Writing is the best way of preserving memories, retelling history and transferring knowledge into future generations.
  • Writing grants immortality to its creator as spoken words are scattered in the wind and soon forgotten if not recorded.
  • The unnecessary components of oral communication such as small talk, echo questions and filler words can be mostly avoided unless a dialogue is being mimicked in a work of fiction.
  • Writing requires education of some level at least and that’s all the difference between a toddler mumbling about their needs to their parents and a scholar influencing millions.
  • It’s possible to translate a piece of writing into the reader’s native tongue as no immediate responses are needed.
  • Never forget that ‘pen is mightier than the sword’ and that a sword can cut a blabbermouth. Writing always wins.

 

So, despite all this proof, why do most people underestimate the power of writing in the modern world?

Why is being a writer not considered as a proper job?

Why are the benefits of hiring a professional writer is seen as an asset by only a few selected businesses?

You don’t build the house you live in unless you’re an architect and a bricklayer. Do you?

Would you like to know more?

Then, stay tuned in for the next part of this article coming up soon…

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Communicating with visitors from outer space: The uncanny resemblance of the Unfamiliar Familiarity…

Communicating with visitors from outer space: The uncanny resemblance of the Unfamiliar Familiarity…

We are born… totally unaware of the world around us; an alien world…
We learn crying first… that’s our first attempt in communication… or attention seeking until we find more effective ways…
Then, we learn to stand on our knees, crawl and finally walk…
In the end, we learn to speak as we complete the totally helpless phase of our infancy. The comms link is finally online…

It takes us years to get familiar with our home world and its humanoid inhabitants. Yet, we are never fully familiar towards other life forms on our planet…

Nobody has communicated with a chicken…
Nobody knows how a potted sunflower truly feels when neglected too long…
Nobody has ever set their eyes upon the creatures living in the deepest parts of our oceans…
Nobody has tried to make a pact with deadly viruses for them not to make us sick… oh wait! Most of us aren’t even aware that viruses aren’t living organisms… but we try to kill these lifeless but contagious pieces of code anyway.

We still know only bits and pieces about the other life forms we coexist with, on our shared planet…

Yet, we seek intelligent life forms in deep space and still believe we can come to terms with these aliens through diplomacy once we find them and form an inter-galactic federation to rule the galaxy peacefully altogether… or crush the destructive, evil ones…

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Before elaborating more on the ways to communicate with aliens, let’s take a short trip into some popular alien encounter plots in the sci-fi world:

A spaceship either makes its way to one of the largest cities in the world, or just crash lands in the suburbs where a small town lies nearby. The aliens’ agenda is always the same wherever they land though: to destroy us or strip our planet off its valuable resources. Then the war for our planet commences…

We beat them 9 out of 10 times. Perhaps because they look like us somehow… an uncanny resemblance of the unfamiliar familiarity: they’re either off-color humanoids, complete with all the limbs etc. Or some variation of earthly creatures like giant bugs or non-aquatic octopuses.

This physical familiarity must be the reason we believe we can communicate so easily with them.

So, let’s make it easier for the mankind and imagine the first aliens we encounter are not only humanoid in form, but also a nearly exact copy of our image. But even then… what makes us think we can understand each other? How easily can we communicate with other people? Can we even completely understand our fellow earthlings?

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… in a world where,

… men can’t truly understand women…
… archaeologists can’t decipher most ancient writing forms… (such as the Rongorongo of Easter Island)…
… each Earth culture has its own beliefs and values…(even gestures)…

Still not convinced?

Try explaining snowflakes to a young Masai warrior…

or

what an ocean is to someone who has lived in a landlocked country all their life…

Locked in our own Prison

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Over a 7 billion souls on Earth, with over a 7 billion distinctive characters, yet each person behaves and acts in unison defined by one set of outdated rules: The norms of society.

People laugh and cry as society dictates them to… even implying when and where to show joy or despair.

We spend our hard-earned cash by joining the race to get the jobs noone really wants. Getting involved in unleashing creativity like doing arts, crafts, music, writing, film-making does not pay, having connections do… we do everything to please the society and just to be accepted.

Freedom exists only in schoolbooks, yet everyone is directed into thinking they’re free as a bird. But, aren’t birds are freer in so many ways we can’t anticipate? They can fly forward, backward, up and down demolishing physical boundaries and… and they’re never judged for any action by their own kind. There are bird parks where they live in peace but never societies where they’re stripped off what they are. And yet again, we have the expression “bird-brained” to look down on them in a world where they literally look down on us.

Even the language tricks us: “Free will” is two words in which the latter can be considered as an indication of the future… meaning not now, maybe never. We live in a dystopia disguised as an utopia… where there are no “Free Won’t”s… not even in the language.

The society deceives us, breaks us and shapes us as if we were mass produced. Some unaware people may beg to differ but actually we “differ to beg” for so many things that we want happening in our lives. Them; acceptance… us; total freedom.

But, how? How do we achieve total freedom?

Here are some ideas:

1. Be totally honest with everyone even if you don’t want to hurt their feelings. Wounds heal but deception does not. Besides, total honesty removes any kind of communicative barrier.

2. Have no expectations from anyone, anytime. Expectations only bring disappointments but receiving without expecting is true bliss.

3. Treat your happiness as a treasure. Treat your unhappiness to feel better. If you are happy, you make everyone around you happy. It’s highly contagious.

4. Watch kids and learn from them. They can do many things that we long for.

5. Try humor if everything else fails. Try it if everything goes well, too. Humor is essential.

 

The Overuse of Lexical Items in Describing Emotions

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Language has never stopped evolving as more new words are added to the lexical pool every passing day. We are now using more words than ever, to express ourselves fully to one another. But, is it all necessary? Or are we simply dulling our senses and devolving ourselves, restricted by the limits of language itself?

In face-to-face encounters, language loses most of its function as actions take over the role of wordly structures. We never describe our actions in wordly forms when what we are doing at any given moment is so obvious. Imagine you’re in a cafe with someone, do you ever need the urge to make sentences like: “I’m now holding the cup of coffee with my left hand, preparing to take a sip.”?

Of course not, as each person is equipped with a behavioral decoder of their own. But, then again, why do we use words to describe our emotions to the other person accross the same table; saying we are happy, upset, depressed or scared… Have we disconnected and devolved so much that we can’t decode emotions without the aid of words anymore?

The joy of hugging someone and transferring our emotions in a silent harmony is what we should have been doing all along. “Wordless” does not mean it’s “worthless”, it’s just more. It’s actually feeling for each other.

We are taught to “apologize”, “praise”, “confront”, “encourage” and “congratulate” each other even before we start school… but even the words picked for such actions are random letters in tiresome, long sequences, …. difficult even to pronounce let alone understand each other’s feelings.

In writing good fiction, there’s one fundamental rule: “Show, don’t tell.” How come “showing” is more appreciated than “telling in words” at a medium where the reader and the writer is almost never in the same place?
Showing, not telling adds great value to writing, so,  perhaps, we should implement this rule to our daily lives for a change to enhance our personal relationships.

Finally,

Who is the culprit for demoting our emotions, then?

Is it the gibberish rules of society we are dictated since birth?

Is it the technological advancements causing the daily rush we find ourselves in, to get pointless things done in little time?

Is it because we are becoming more and more selfish and ignorant?

Whatever the cause, it is never late to share our feelings in an entangling bundle of limbs, enclosing two hearts within…

Smart Phones and whatever

Alexander Graham Bell’s dream was to be heard over a distance; a mere voice projection and nothing else; a device solely responsible for communication. What would he be thinking if he lived now, in the era of smart phones; seeing his invention taking a weird turn and becoming a device of self isolation and addiction? I bet he wouldn’t be so content as we’re not really using smart phones for their main functionality which is basically to speak to people.

We can take photos, send letters (emails), log into our bank accounts, play games, watch movies, make movies, like pictures of cats, listen to music, apply for jobs, remember and celebrate birthdays, use them as flashlights, look for directions, check weather reports, plan our holidays, chat with complete strangers, absorb radiation and develop brain tumors.

We can do all of these without uttering a single word and most of them without involvement of a second body.

So, what happened to the communicative aspect of phones?

The answer is obvious: Nobody cares anymore as long as they have the latest device, access to social media and a wall charger.

This is all for now. I have to stalk some stranger’s profile and watch funny cat videos.

From Bending the Truth to Total Honesty

In our infancy, we were taught the wickedness of lying and that we should always be honest towards other kids/people.

Not much time passes before we learn that a society without lies is an utopia. You may have realized this at an early stage (if you’re smart enough) when your parents lie to you to protect you (or at least this is how they defend themselves). That’s the initial shock.

The next stage is in adapting to the society is conceptualizing the degree of lying; believing that white lies are actually necessary to secure a spot amongst friends or society. 

Imagine your best friend asking how her new, but horrible dress (let’s say it’s yellow) looks… I can almost hear you saying “Nice”, especially avoiding stronger positive adjectives or exclamations like “wow!” which we consider to be a form of lying. The use of the word “nice” and rolling your eyes to avoid further eye contact really helps you to remain besties. 

But, it’s still lying, isn’t it? What is worse is that you’re lying to your best friend…

So, what can be done to ensure not pissing your mate while uttering words of truth.

The answer is simple: Bending the truth! Or not having to lie but still sharing your true opinion/emotions. But how?

Okay, the first lesson is free: “Bending the Truth 101″…

All you have to do is to mumble something barely audible like “hmmm”, following a statement somewhat true : “I think, it would suit you much better if it was in blue”

The key phrase here is “much better”… as “better” doesn’t always mean good. However, it can make the transition from “terrible” to a plain “bad”. The real message you convey would be “Your dress looks bad!”

Another tip is to select words wisely. Here’s another case I once read in an ELT Activity book:

A little girl goes to her mother and asks if she could have ice-cream before dinner. The mother says no. Then, the little girl goes to her father to ask him the same question. The father asks her if she had asked her mother. The girl nods her head in confirmation. The father says “Then, I suppose you can have one”. The girl runs happily towards the ice-cream stash.

Does the girl have a hidden agenda? Yes

Is she lying? No.

 

Here’s a personal story; I used to live only a couple of blocks from my previous work place (which was on a very busy street) and it usually took me 3 minutes to walk to work. Nobody knew where I lived so whenever I was late for a meeting I would tell my boss that there was heavy traffic (which was indeed true although it never affected me).

No lying, no hard feelings…

As I got older, I mastered truth bending and got along pretty well with friends. But, it wasn’t enough. I started dreaming of a world of total honesty like in the Ricky Gervais movie “The invention of Lying”. 

Then, I decided to give it a try; being totally honest with everyone. I lost many friends but the ones who remained… they became my true friends because when you’re totally honest, they become the same and you begin to share the most intimate secrets with each other…That’s priceless…The connection becomes concrete…

You should give it a try to see for yourself. 

P.S: I do think this is not one of my best work… but it is to the point… and I admit I’m expecting a few good words about this entry nevertheless. 

The hardest language

Languages are ways of communicating with fellow people whether it’s a blink of the eye, a bodily gesture or verbal gibberish uttered in a specific order. They all aim to serve one thing: making connections. There are no easy languages just as there are no easy people. It’s us who complicate everything; inventing sets of rules called grammar, training our vocal cords to sound each word alike like everyone utters them and making up words to describe things which could never be described like love, friendship, souls and even solid words like “apple”. Tell 100 people to describe an apple in one word and you’ll get 100 different words: Sweet, sour, red, green, small, big and nowadays even a computer. Tell 1000 people to do the same and you’ll still get 100 words as language is also a limited concept. So, what’s the use of languages anyway letting alone whether they’re easy or hard.

The true communication happens when you touch another person’s soul and your heart becomes the one that speaks. You don’t have to wail like a banshee to be understood. In complete silence, only the beating heart and the fluctuating soul is heard. It’s comforting, long-lasting and something positive.

Next time, exchange stares with a friend or a lover for prolonged times and value the share of silence.

P.S: Smiling while staring is perfectly okay, too and it’s far less creepy.