In hindsight, I wish there had been more arguments in class last week as we were creating our master list of “what counts as writing.” All I can think to myself now is: a mural does not count as writing.
I regret not having said something in class; this is just one of those instances where I don’t realize I’m itching to say something until the moment has passed.
I guess this is the part where I make my case for why murals shouldn’t count as writing. A mural or an image in the context of what we discussed is used as a form of communication. And while all writing is communication**, not all communication is writing. Books and plays can communicate to me the plot of a character’s life or a larger symbolic meaning, the notes I take in class tell me what the lecture was about, and even the sticky note on the fridge can remind me that I’m out of milk. These were all acceptable to me as things that count as writing, mostly because they have one vital characteristic in common: they are words — written or typed or short-handed words.
Murals and other such images are not words; they are images that potentially communicate some sort of message, but they are not written.
After coming to this somewhat fragile conclusion (in the sense that I’m content with it myself but don’t expect others to be), I wondered where the Morse code fit into the mix. What about ancient hieroglyphics? On the seemingly fluid spectrum of what counts as writing and what does not, Morse code and hieroglyphics seem to be closer to counting as writing than murals are. Perhaps it is because they are symbols that denote a word in spite of the fact that they are not words themselves?
Clearly I’m too indecisive a person for this.
Yet in the grand scheme of things I feel like it doesn’t really matter what counts as writing and what doesn’t fit the bill. Writing is this impressively dynamic, democratic form of speech and communication, and whether I wish to write novels, articles, tweets, or even murals, I’ll just be glad to live in a country where the right to write (see what I did there?) is mine and everyone’s.
** Unless someone can comment and tell me some sort of writing that isn’t a form of communication, in which case I’ll apologize and also be thankful for because I can’t think of any at the moment.