Consumption, Communication, and Creation

I had never even entertained the thought of reading and writing as two mutually exclusive activities until I read Deborah Brandt’s article “The Status of Writing”. For a long time, I assumed the act of writing was dependent on the act of reading. Brandt acknowledges this in her article multiple times, often pointing towards the economical value of writing based on the breadth and prestige of is readership. Yet, Brandt’s article and our discussion caused me to rethink writing, reading, and the connection between the two.

Brandt emphasized the stigma of control, moral value, and protection of the consumer while examining the reader. It seemed that Brandt felt that the writer, at least in our society today, was subservient to the reader. Of course, we know from our discussion and our gallery that, as a society, we write just as much as we read (if not more) due to social media and workplace writing. I feel as though that shift towards literate equilibrium redefines writing from something that derives its value from readership to something that is utterly necessary for survival in the modern world. To write is to be.

The old idea that authors were dusty old men holed up in mahogany studies is disappearing. Writing is no longer an esoteric pastime of the elite. Our class is an example of the diversity writing fosters: all sorts of majors and ages elected to take on a concentration in writing. The ideas of writing are as varied as writers themselves. Even the definition of communication, perhaps the most basic goal of writing (or is it?), differs from writer to writer.

One of the most wonderful things I read in Brandt’s article was the series of quotations on page 157 from various subjects in Brandt’s study. To see the positive effect writing had on people who may not even consider themselves writers was especially heartening. It further proves that writing is a universal form of creative expression that can be used by bank tellers and college professors alike.  I feel as though those quotations reflect the goals I have for the minor. Precision, thoughtfulness, and clarity are all things I would like to achieve in both my writing and myself.

Emily Cotten

Emily Cotten is a sophomore Vocal Performance major at the University of Michigan. She hails from North Carolina and enjoys reading, writing, and blasting opera hits in her car while driving down the highway.

3 thoughts to “Consumption, Communication, and Creation”

  1. Emily, Brandt’s belief that writing and reading are mutually exclusive is very interesting when you consider the fact that we constantly read and re-read words and sentences as we write. One cannot write without the ability to read. Perhaps the words producer and consumer better describe the relationship Brandt is trying to describe, or at least offer a new point of view on his piece. Framed by these alternative terms, the number of producers in our society has starkly increased, for a multitude of reasons. The first that come to mind for me are advancements in technology and the implementation of such technologies in the professional workplace. However, I seriously wonder whether our society sustain this shift towards mass “production”. Will people continue writing/producing even if no one is reading their work? What will happen with the exponentially large amounts of writing flowing into the world? I worry about what will happen to the quality and depth of literature in this coming age of write first and leave the reading/thought/morals for later.

  2. The idea of why people write is fascinating. I think our society is shifting to a point where everything is being documented, as if we need to prove every second, every moment, every event happened. Like facebook for example, with the posting of pictures and statuses and the use of “likes,” it seems as if people are trying to justify their life to the world. In many ways, I think many of us, if not all of us, secretly want the universe to read our writing and exclaim, “Finally, we’ve discovered someone with REAL talent!” With the ferocious inclination of our society to document every possible thing, I believe the “average” quality of writing mass produced from our society will definitely decrease.
    But of course, even amongst this self-centered dreams about popularity and fame, there still is writing that exists solely for the purpose of good writing. We just have to dig a little deeper, and search a little harder.

  3. I definitely agree with your opening statement in that I never thought of reading and writing as two mutually exclusive concepts. I enjoyed you mentioning the idea that writing is making a shift towards a literate equilibrium. It is interesting to think about how writing is considered necessary to survival in the modern world. Our class discussion definitely opened my mind more to what writing is and can be. I really enjoyed how you mentioned how writing is continuing to change. Although some thing change to be a good thing, I do worry about what writing will become. It still remains an outlet for creative expression whether it be on a computer screen or with a pen and paper. So even though technology is taking a toll on our society and could potentially alter writing, it is still keeping people writing.

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