Whoa says me Dude

Mere literacy is far from sufficient.

Reading, writing, speaking, and listening are all subsets of a parent ability; clarity of thought. George Orwell wrote about the marriage of clear thinking and clear writing, and while the observation may seem obvious today, the jargon ridden and confusing political and academic writing of the first half of the 20th century stand as muddled and dense testimony for the time Orwell lived.

To a point, reading is the easiest skill to master. Not in the rote sense, as speech always precedes comprehension of the written word, but once most of us hit our teens we are able to largely absorb a great Russian classic (who doesn’t lovingly possess a dog eared copy of The Master and Margarita?). However, the sad truth for most everyone living or lived, is our ability to effectively communicate anything beyond the most remedial concepts remains retarded for the balance of our lives.

Despite the ability to garner the plot points and major metaphorical allusions in a novel, humans have an alarming tendency to ignore or imbue the words of others to the point of twisting them utterly and completely out of shape. A sojourn at an online message board should prove that point well enough if you don’t wish to take my word for it, as the norm is points addressing points not made, straw men, ad hominem attacks, and general confusion. Note, despite general clarity on the part of the participants, it is in the comprehension of each other’s points where people are failing.

If you can read you can write, and if you can listen you can speak, and if you can speak you can write, which means you can read. However, before we revel in the inclusive warmth (gemuetlichkeit) of mutually supporting skills, as Hitch points out: “how many people do you enjoy hearing speak?” It is a most ancient problem for almost all of us; what we have to say is boring and unoriginal and takes forever.

Lest I leave you with the bitter paste of cynicism stuck to the roof of your mouth, there is still hope. There is a bright light of burning poetry refusing to be snuffed by those content with semi-functional literacy, and the very best communicators can still overcome the failings of the mob without resorting to ugly repetition or talking down.

Uncle Stephen. Brother David. Ailing Hitch.

Robin Lindsay



Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: