The Written Word


Here we go…one of my favourite topics…writing.  I love words.  I could roll around and a play in them all day long!  I wonder if Johannes Gutenberg knew that his invention would literally change this world forever.  And yes, the pun is intended.  I have a fascination with how the whole writing thing got started.  Our need and desire to tell a story.  It started with artistic imagery on the walls of caves.  Early man’s desire to recapitulate the hunt then to show their bravado during wartime.

I wonder who the first scholar might have been and how this illustrious individual came to being?  I guess my real fascination is how the written word began.  The interesting thing of it as well, is that it was not inclusive to just one tribal sect.  The writing thing kind of caught on and expanded world-wide, without mass communication.  But first we had language.  First we had to articulate verbally to one another, and then the stories began.  And they were passed on throughout the generations and likely embellished a time or two.  The sacred word being passed on and our understanding of certain universal truths.

We do know that as humans we are very industrious and creative in terms of communications.  Just look at where we are now?  Anyone from any country worldwide can read what I have written this day.  That is powerful, man.
And on the drive in this morning as I gazed up into the sky, I wondered once again how the whole thing started. Did it begin with one of our fore-bearers playing with a stick and drawing in the sand?  How were alphabets derived?  There is a wealth of knowledge that I do know has been lost to us throughout the years.  Wars and opinions have dictated what we should know and what we need to know, not necessarily what we choose to know.  The idea of thinking freely is often subject to influence of some form or another.

What were the first words ever written?  Then of course, we began to study and teach.  I would love to be able to go back in time and actually see the dawning of the written word.  It is an extremely powerful tool.  When I was young  I read 1,001 Arabian Nights.  I was transplanted into this exotic land that I knew nothing about.  Yet the images I conjured based upon the book’s description of events was magical.

It’s that power to take the reader from a cold, wind-swept coast in western Canada to the blazing hot sand dunes in the Middle East.  It is feeling the heart-break of a young girl to the fury of battle.  It is experiencing the passion and fear that the writer has released upon the pages.  We now have so many genres of writing as well and with the advent of the internet publishing has taken on yet a new approach to the written word.

It is interesting too, what makes a bestseller, a bestseller.  Is it timing?  Is it luck?  Does it seem that in that collective moment everyone seems to have an interest in a certain topic?  I think back to ‘Fear of Flying’ by Erica Jong.  That one just exploded.  ‘The Happy Hooker’ by Xavier Hollander.  Yet another one that burned up the charts.  Then we come to present day where we had ‘Harry Potter’, ‘Eat, Love, Pray’ and now of course all things  ‘Fifty Shades of Gray’.  This is just a very brief sampling of bestsellers off the top of my head.  And interestingly enough, not all bestsellers are necessarily well written.  They just seem to capture the interest of the collective at just the right time.

Do I have a favourite book?  I have several.  Some are a little more obscure than others.  But wouldn’t I love to have a peek back in time to see how the whole thing got started!

I will head off to work now.  From my desk I look out over Alberni Street in Vancouver.  Before me are several highrises with a glimpse of the north shore mountains, namely Grouse Mountain, Seymour and Cypress between the buildings.  They are wearing a deep hunter’s green this lovely summer morning.  The sky is soft, rather lazy blue and shadows dance along the sides of the buildings.  There are trees and bushes that line the street.  We are heading into late summer and the leaves are now a deep green.  Soon they will begin to turn.  September will see them become a vibrant yellow, gold or red before drifting down to the ground.  But for today they stand in all their majesty.

Enjoy your day and thanks for stopping by.

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