Writing: No Masses Need Apply

Yesterday I wrote and posted a very long article, some five thousand words worth of thinking.  It may be one of the best pieces of writing I have done in a while.  Fifteen years ago I was working as an engineer in high tech.  The group to which I had the great luck to be assigned was called the New Technologies Group and I had my first license to play.  We were encouraged to seek out the newest technologies that might be of use to our company in the coming years.  Telecom was an ever changing industry full of hope and promise.  One of the benefits of my job was writing white papers and instruction manuals on these new ways of doing business.  I found out years before that I had a capacity to take the complex and involved technology and make them comprehensible to the above average individual.  I say above average because there is a point where complexity cannot be made simple enough for the average person.  This is why most individuals shy away from reading philosophy and particle physics, they simply have not the background in learning.  But as I was saying, I wrote this wonderful post, at least I thought it wonderful, but what do I know about judging my own work, I am a bit biased, and the wife started to read it.  She didn’t get far, perhaps the first few paragraphs.  Her comments, and I do value them greatly, were that the writing was difficult, hard, and blunt.  Well, true enough, as I did bring a great deal of knowledge to the table, hence over five thousand words were necessary.  she though I out to simplify the subject.  I said that I had already made it simple enough, that the ideas were very complex, and that I “skipped” a little on extended argument and proof.  After all, I am not writing for a grade from some professor who really couldn’t care less about the content.  Then the light bulb went on, you know, that one that hovers over the heads of people in cartoons.  Her next comment was, “You’re right.  Your are absolutely right.”  I don’t write for the masses, I really don’t know how and it would be against my principles to spout Koolaide and cookies (god, what a horrible combination) while preaching simple panacea using one hundred and forty four characters.

Let the leaders of idiots twitter and snapchat.  If Hilary uses snapchat then I won’t touch it.  I also don’t take selfies and I’ve never been caught texting or twittering.  The serious issues in life cannot be reduced to one hundred and forty four characters.  “Black Lives Matter” is a wonderful slogan and catchphrase but it says nothing of any importance.  What is the difference between black lives matter and all lives matter?  Are we only concerned with black lives and everyone else can go to hell?  Is this really a serious discussion of a social condition or a problem of perceived injustice?  We need a little more information before we can take this catchphrase seriously, if pay it any attention at all.  Could I reduce my arguments to a few catchphrases, and if so, what would that say about the importance of my ideas?  Perhaps this is why the average individual does not belong in the university setting, the course work must be dumb down to a point where what has been learned, if only temporarily, is of little value.  If I were to ask the average university graduate what they remember from the introduction to social studies they were required to take, such as history, psychology, anthropology, literature, and the like, what could they tell me and would it take more than five minutes?  If you have retains so little then what is the worth, not value, but worth of your degree?  Just this morning I was reading an article on fairness and the writer, being a university professor in the department of philosophy was offering up a critique of the various thinkers and writers who had touched upon that subject in one way or another.  This critique was written is a clear and concise manner (a bit unusual for a professor of philosophy, few ever really try to make their ideas understandable – opinion on my part), very nice writing.  I did not have to go scampering all over the reference library to make out what was being discussed.

But for the average university graduate, not so simple.  First, one needs the vocabulary and acquaintance with the material mentioned.  If one wants to read a discussion about boson interaction one had better know a little about particle physics or one is lost in the first paragraph.  And if one is going to write a history of physics one has a lot of territory to cover, including the ancient Greeks and Chinese and even Indians.  A history makes the many connections necessary for our understanding of a subject.  To ignore or omit many of these connections is to make ignorance commonplace.  Of course election years bring ignorance to the forefront of the public attention and we, as a group of voters, tend to elect the politicians we deserve.  God, I hope that is not true in the case of Hilary and a number of Republicans.  My opinion is that trump or Sanders would be the safest choices because while they may espouse “wild ideas”, the chances that any of these notions will pass Congress is very slim.  Better no action than the wrong actions, my opinion, of course.  I could opt to write in my favorite candidate when none of the field looks acceptable, Lassie.  But that would like voting for Bruce Jenner, a male dressed to look like a female, and I refuse to be that liberal, or conservative.

Well, shouldn’t a writer consider his audience?  Do you really think I am widely read by any standard?  Very few people read what I write and I don’t go out of my way to buy readership.  I understand that is how blogs become successful, buying readership in one manner or another.  I prefer to howl in the wilderness to paying others to ooh and aah over me.  There is one blogger who writes on The politics of Writing.  The man is a bit presumptuous and pompous.  His articles tend to be quite the prescriptive demand (not advice) and he is a trifle full of himself, as young men will be.  I read him for one, the humor of his attempts to be so serious, and two, because he has talent, some promise that will be filled with age.  Young writers are always so full of themselves because their range of experience and knowledge is so very limited.  Perhaps in ten years this young man will find his niche in life.  Yes, I am the old sage sitting on my mountain top.  Ask me the meaning of life.  In the beginning it cost only a nickel, ran up to a dollar, and then died a terrible death, no one bothered to read it anymore.  Well, even a sage has to play to the crowd once in a while.

So if the world is so filled with idiots and numskulls, why do I bother to write?  Because I can.  Besides, someone has to howl at the moon if only to draw attention to the light reflected by the moon while it is in sight.  Few people ever look at the moon during the day.  It’s there, you can see it when the conditions are right.  But few of us ever notice, and when we do it becomes both a mystery and a wonder.  It’s like looking for the rainbow’s twin.  Most of mankind parades by in ignorance, barely noticing his connection with the earth he trods.  Is there more to life than simply getting by?  Very much so.  But we are inundated by illusions and interruptions and toys and all manner of inane stuff.  Is that so very wrong?  Should we have laws against ignorance?  I suppose that if we consider the world a prison then we all are inmates because only astronauts can escape, but only for a little while, they must eventually return.  One of the purposes of writing is to stretch one’s mind, one’s abilities, to explore knowledge and make new connections, to exercise the brain in thought.  One can’t do that in one hundred and forty four characters.

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