Saturday, December 13, 2014

Why Socrates Chose Hemlock

It's a sad fact that written words remain as they are on the paper or wherever it is the technical device keeps them. They do not move around, they do not rearrange themselves. They just sit where a person puts them. Yet over time their meaning changes. One day the sentence makes perfect sense, it strikes like a brilliant cobra and causes the heart to wonder at the magnificence of it's creator. The next day the same sentence was clearly the work of some kind of rubber room experience because it makes no sense at all, might just as well be gibberish. Leave it a month and you're basically looking at the work of a Hamster or a Wombat who has a keyboard in his dwelling place. And too, there's something very unpleasant about editing that makes me think the ancients did the right thing when they advised Socrates to either get out of town or drink Hemlock.

One of the tragedies in my time on earth has been my relationship with written words. They are without doubt the most unsatisfactory forms of self expression, and yet they are the most addictive. They can touch the nerve of life on earth with the promise of understanding that can be displayed and flaunted. It's tribe and clan, it's the big hat, and it's Cancun. And too as the world of people move into newer and newer places, odds are the written word will become pretty much extinct. The expression of their moment with living things replaced by vials of the reading experience encoded within a liquid DNA that includes advertizing and cures insomnia. There'll be the odd gallant mushroom in a basement, but to future generations the written word will be kind of like puka shell bracelets or winkle pickers. Sadly the bagpipe will probably outlast them.

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