Is writing about writing, writing?
Strange question perhaps, but I think I’ve mentioned somewhere before in a post that writing about the techniques of writing is not the same as “storytelling.” And I really do love storytelling.
Sometimes questions like these don’t really lead to concrete answers, but they can lead to more writing. You can take a look at my last post “Trajectory” for such an example. Lots of questions in that one to spawn future posts. 😊
When I sit down in front of the keyboard, I think back over a whole range of experiences I’ve had and before the words begin to flow I try to keep in mind the audience I’m trying to reach and try to weed out some of the things that might seem significant to me, but would not have even one tiny speck of meaning to anyone else. Those thoughts, images, and memories, if you’d not been there sharing that same moment in time, can be lost in translation. Perhaps “lost” isn’t even the right word, because if no connection at all can be made in the first place, then there was nothing to lose.
Can’t lose what you never had.
In those instances, I picture words as solid objects just bouncing off another person’s brain and falling to the floor. A scattering of meaningless symbols. A board of Scrabble where all of the letters are Os or Ks and nothing coherent can be spelled out. Sort of like splashing green paint on a canvas and telling everyone it’s supposed to be a forest.
Other times, I consider only myself as being the audience. I’m spinning that yarn for the sake of verbalizing something that could really only be significant to me. Like I’m recording an event the same way a photographer captures an image on film. I just want to see how it “looks.” Memorialize it. And I mean that literally. Then I ask the big questions.
Can I paint that image with words? Bring it to life on paper? Can someone else relate?
While that might sound like a selfish beginning, if I feel like I succeed, then maybe I’ll share it with a wider audience and see how they feel about it. Do they “get it?” Can they see, hear, feel, smell, and taste the experience? If they can, then writing has become Magic.
A lot of times when I write, it seems like there is a confluence of ideas circulating out there in the cosmos leading me to a theme. And that’s exactly what has been leading up to this post.
This week, by chance or by some unseen design, I’ve been coming in contact with a variety of references to the origins of language and, thus, the beginnings of writing and communication.
The theme presented itself, and it’s writing about writing 🙂
It started when I came upon a blog about Tarot cards – the Major Arcana cards.* And it began with, not so surprisingly, the number 1. The first card. The Magus or the Magician.
I’m pretty new at using Tarot cards, so, I snatched up my deck, pulled the card, and studied its symbolism. I love symbolism perhaps more than the isolated written word that spawns it because that’s where all of those images come bubbling up to the surface.
It seems the Magician has been associated with the Messenger of the Gods, Hermes. Hermes is the Olympian God of herds and flocks, travelers, hospitality, roads and trade, persuasive deception, trickery, thievery, diplomacy, astronomy, astrology, wisdom, art, speech, eloquence, and yes, writing.
It’s funny, but logical I suppose, that the God of cattle and speech would also be the patron God for cattle thieves and used car salespersons.
And I suppose Hermes could be said to be our God of Blogging here in modernity.
Because he was the Messenger or Herald of the Gods, he was given winged sandals to travel as fast as a bird on the wing. And as one can analogize, nothing is swifter in action than that of a word.
Hermes is said to have taught mankind many tongues and is, therefore, also the God of “Babelization” – creating confusion by the mingling of different languages. Indeed, once language and symbols and dialects were developed, humankind has spent generations trying to debabelize or remove the obstacles to verbal communication.
Miscommunication, can, after all, result in nothing short of a world war. Or two . . .
But learning of Hermes and discovering the word “Babelize” and its origins were not my only synchronicities with the origins of writing I stumbled upon this week.** I awoke this morning to find a Brown Recluse Spider crawling about the coffee in my cupboard.
Humm, not even a poisonous spider was going to keep me from my morning coffee. And then a second appeared. Now I haven’t seen a spider in my home for quite some time and having seen two at once I figured I better check on their symbolism.
I know, my brain works in strange ways. Put the coffee cup down and grab the book on symbols.
Spiders have a lot of rich representations including – you guessed it – they are the guardians of ancient language and alphabets. They also symbolize creativity, magic and the energy of creation. Its weaving of webs is said to be a linkage of past and future, physical and astral, male and female. To some, the geometric patterns of their webs forms a primordial alphabet, the first true alphabet, making the spider the teacher of all languages. That sort of dethrones old Hermes a bit.
Spiders are said to be the spinners of fate. The weavers of time and of illusion.
Indeed, as writers don’t we weave our tales? Traverse time? Create illusion? Paint those thought-portraits. Take silken threads and link them in patterns that all lead to our central themes.
Don’t we wish to trap our readers? Ensnare them in our intricate web of words? Lead them down pathways they’ve never trekked before? Isn’t the weaving of this spell, this mesmerization of the mind, this experiential travel through geometric figures, magic in its truest form?
In fact, through language, don’t we create the everyday observable world?
Well, we no longer need winged sandals to be the heralds of our messages. We have the lightning fast speed of the Internet and can reach any place in the world in just a heartbeat. We even call it the World-Wide Web 😊
Photo: A Tarantula marches along the high desert floor unconcerned with me snapping a quick pic – to use later symbolically in a blog post.
*See Tarot and Archetypes at my friend’s blog La Audacia DE Aquiles, “The Visible World is Just a Pretext.”
**Stumbling on the word “Babelization” also made me think of the old google language translator called Babel Fish. And looking up its origins I discovered that name came from a fictional species in the book, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” that was a universal translator. That, in turn, referenced the confusion of languages arising in the Biblical town of Babel. This was where God, apparently upset that people built a tall tower to try to escape the second flood, divided people into linguistic groups unable to communicate and understand each other.
It seems like, according to legend and scripture, the Gods all had a bit of fun with the creation of languages, and the creation of misunderstandings. Uncertainty in language has certainly fed the legal profession, where single words in contracts are statutes are zealously battled over, sometimes past the point of absurdity 🙂