Seems like a simple enough question. Most of us write all the time: we write academically, we write socially, some of us even write in our spare time. But when it comes down to it, what are we writing? The Ong piece brought up the idea that writing is a symbolic way of sharing our thoughts. It also mentioned that writing is artificial, it’s something we have to put down and therefore it loses its naturalness.
Plato was a big naysayer against writing; he claimed it was inhuman and was falsifying what went on in the mind. My question is, how are writing and speaking that different from each other? Isn’t using spoken word taking a thought in your mind and putting it out into the real world? Is that artificial then? The ideas of “real” and “artificial” are so blurry and vague that it becomes easy to say that all things are artificial. And what necessarily makes artificial bad? If I were to ever meet Plato, I would definitely ask him some of these questions, my biggest one being: How can you write about how bad writing is? Isn’t that the most hypocritical thing to do? If you think writing is so bad, then don’t do it. But then the difficult part becomes communicating. Writing makes living easier. Writing allows some piece of yourself to be preserved in time to convey the thought that you were feeling.
“Without writing, the literate mind would not and could not think as it does, not only when engaged in writing but normally even when it is composing its thoughts in oral form.” (W. Ong, 1982, p. 77)