As an aspiring writer, bibliophile, and idiot who decided on pursuing an English degree, I have always believed in the power of words. Whether to inspire the masses or simple convey a single, meaningful idea, words matter. Hell, you have never heard someone say “he/she convinced me with that completely accurate math problem.” No, it was flowery language and incredible metaphor that men have willingly given their lives for.
However, I have always been bothered by the limit wordsmiths have in wielding their craft. I mean, like all artists/creators, what responsibility do authors and “wordy” (yup, aspiring writer) people have to their communities and/or their art?
This train of thought was partially inspired from a conversation with an artist. He makes interesting pieces revolving around criticism of popular culture and major sociopolitical issues in South Texas. For him, his art was his involvement and all he felt necessary or compelled to do. Of course, he also acknowledged that if others believed they should take a more active role in social and political movements, it was up to them to set their own boundaries. Yeah, the artist gave a very political answer.
The second thing that inspired this stream of consciousness was remembering the movie The Invention of Lying.
I won’t go into any spoilers or detail, but it is an interesting film, and I highly recommend watching it. The premise is that humanity is incapable of lying except for one man (Ricky Gervais) who discovers the ability to do so. Now, for the most part he is self-serving and uses this new found power for his own personal gain, but there is one key moment when he essentially creates religion. This is not intended to create a debate or even a discussion on religion, its validity, or any other facet of belief. However, in the film it is basically a lie intended to comfort a dying mother and everyone else who has questions about the afterlife and what it means to be a good person and other major philosophical questions that we people just do not understand.
Really that is the crux of my internal query. What is the purpose of being able to wield and manipulate words? Are they meant to simply entertain, provide comfort, inspire toward some movement or progress? What happens when the words are in conflict with the reality or truth of a situation? For example, let’s say a story in a newspaper shed light on a horrible, atrocious situation, but the subject matter was not necessarily 100% factual. Is the truth more important than the good that was done? If a lie provides comfort, is it really such a bad thing? If the truth causes harm, is it actually good? Or perhaps the question should be how much good and change was actually made if a single truth can utterly derail it?
I apologize for the series of odd, semi-existential questions. Hell, maybe I should stop doing these “On [Something]” posts since they seem to result in more questions than answers. Also, I swear I am not writing under the influence of anything other than my synapses incapable of being quiet for too long. I am hoping that throwing these out into the ether of the Internet will yield some answers. Or at the very least other will discuss and maybe some day come up with something, but who knows.
For now, all I can do is cast out the net and see what happens. Maybe one of you has some insight into this.