THE INTELLIGENT SINGAPOREAN

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The Reason Why You Write…..

Posted by intellisg on April 22, 2007

whywrite.jpgHave ever asked yourself why you write?

These thoughts clung to me like seaweed throughout the course of the morning when I woke up earlier than usual to ride my bike in Bukit Timah. It was quiet, dark and a slight mist hung over the jungle – then it came again – the question – this time in whispering rush,

“Have you ever asked yourself, why do you write the things you do?”

I brushed the question off, clipped into the pedals, felt the tug. The chain settled over the sprockets; soon the familiar feel of the meshing, followed by the forward glide – man and machine barreled into darkness, spokes cutting against the wind, the give of crushed leaves, a rattle and shake – then it came again:

“Why do you write the things you do?” The jungle whispered.

“Leave me alone can’t you see the trail is soggy and slippery. For God sake it’s raining… they’re all kinds of unseen dangers here. A man could loose his hold on a mossy rut, slip fall and break his neck or misjudge a drop off and end up in a wheel chair for the rest of his miserable life. Leave me alone!”

“No, I want to know, why do you write the things you do? Tell me.” The jungle pressed on.

I began to reflect, looking back a line of men followed, each panting, fighting and rasping as we tore through the trail – silently zipping past like arrows. No words here, only grunts. A line of men spread out neatly along the various textures of the undulating terrain. No words here, only grunts. All had seen the trail in every kind of light and darkness, knew the sounds the jungle made. No words here, only grunts. No room for error not at this speed, keep it tight. Keep to the invisible line, that distinct sliver no larger than a man’s palm – the trail.

Then it came again,

“Don’t be difficult, tell me why do you write the things you do? She whispered again.

Is it because we need to believe in such a thing called a voice: the will to record indelibly, to set down our fragile thoughts into permanent words seem akin to the conviction we are larger than the state, community and even our own chemistry.

I say chemistry only because we are increasing being told by experts how we may perceive, decide and even say or behave is largely due to our biology – you may think, you have such a thing called a choice, but they say you don’t, you know “they” the clever people who go around in white coats mixing chemicals in test tubes – they’re telling you and me we’re all irrevocably bound to like fire hydrants, milestones and fire extinguishers – mere fixtures and just as a tree can do nothing except bear fruit in Summer or wither in Autumn only to flower again in Spring – so much of our existence is determined by our pre-edenic being – man isn’t so much an animal as he is a system, process and machine.

So we have to write, it is hardly a matter of choice, though we dress it up as one – we have to write in the way cripples gather beneath the shade of a tree and convince themselves wheelchairs are scientifically far more efficient ways to travel around – it doesn’t matter if the lies we tell ourselves turn to mud when we are confronted by a flight of stairs – we need to write to convince ourselves our existence has the hope of transcending the omnipresent cultural susceptibility to the charms of materialism – you don’t want to be labeled a bimbo, mall rat or lounge lizard and I don’t want to be called a himbo all muscle and no blain, no blain*(1) – above all we write because we still want to believe we are in control of our destinies in an age when we are slowly being told character isn’t as important as genetic make up, your helix decides who you will be, a rocket scientist, janitor, hood, taxi driver, circus performer or simply a man who writes the things he does?

Just admit it, let go! Like me you can’t bear the possibility of a rogue gene hiding itself unseen somewhere in your flawed helix, it’s the quintessential: the enemy beneath your skin, the sum of all you fears – the one that makes you more susceptible to being a compulsive lair, alcoholic, philanderer or simply someone who needs to write the things he does.

And you wonder whether you write the things you do, isn’t intimately related to the post modern resurgence of the oral and the eclipse of the written – losing the written word is like losing a piece of your existence, your history disappears like a drop of dye in water: our incessant digitized conversations, our ephemeral e-mailing, our steadfast devotion to the keyboard and plasma screen and suddenly humpty dumpty falls off the wall all our life is suddenly on hold, we can’t retrieve the threads, the systems down – the world is growing darker, so we write to reclaim: write as Plato’s description of writing, in the Phaedrus, as a “crutch of memory.” For no other reason other than perhaps,

“To mark our existence that we once passed this earth truthfully and honestly.”

That’s the same reason why a string quartered played on the deck of the Titanic just before she sank, they the damned were simply writing: it’s a lot easier to leave the world if you’re certain you’ve really been in it. As Goethe writes in “Faust,”

“Presence is our duty, be it only a moment.”

Above all you write because in an age of mass consumerism and the mono culture brought forth by globalization and everything that going on above, below and around you. You want to defend yourself against the homogeneity of mass culture. You don’t want to be swept away.

When one writes time stops for the duration of the moment when a sentence needs to be wordsmithed, you’re acutely acute present to yourself; you step outside the unconscious forward rush of life. This is why the condemned are allowed the final cigarette, it offers release or rather the hope of it by gathering the loose threads that allows one the strength to walk through the door or cross that line.

As I once told Inspir3d over dinner some time ago. The closer computers gets to being human, the less you want to have a relationship with him, her even yourself.

The truth in this age only makes sense, if one writes and another reads. If serious writing and reading dwindles to near nothingness, it will probably mean that the thing we’re talking about when we use the word “identity” has reached an end.

You write the things you do because you don’t want to be a dot that connects to another dots – so you learn words to like customization, individualism and limited edition, that electra pink mobile phone, handmade earrings and hemp embossed bag differentiates you from the rest of the automata’s, that made to measure custom bike smooth out your genetic limitations it gives you the belief, you have an edge

You write the things you do: because you to take pride in small things even something as small and insignificant as tying your shoes laces or being able to make bubbles with your saliva – you take great pride in these small pleasures that the world hardly notices such as the art of adjusting lacing patterns to terrain – you tell yourself, those shoe manufacturers may know the foot of 99.99% of the rest of humanity, but your feet is different, you are an individual, you’re special, you’re not like them, you write, they don’t – so you develop a style of tying your laces which keeps the toe box loose and the ankle tight when climbing uphill (to prevent twisting) and on the descent you learn to reverse the pattern on the way down (to protect the Achilles tendon), using a double- twisted knot to separate the two parts of the lace – you tell yourself, few people know how to do this, they don’t really know how complex tying shoe laces is, only you know – and as you look out over the yonder, you tell yourself – I can stop writing. Bravo! A day passes followed by a week, yet you tell yourself – I can stop if I want too…look! Really I can! You don’t know me! Bravo again.

Fooled everyone didn’t you told them this would be the last swan dive – they said their good byes wished you the very best, feels good to be appreciated. It’s the final act. They must play their part and so must you. Never thought you made such a dent did you? All that fuss for just learning to tie a few knots. Never in a million years.

Yes, If only it were as simple as just studying reflections of distant temples in the puddle…..if only….the world was ending then, it’s ending still, and you just cant stop writing can you…….that’s the reason why we all have to write…..I’m happy to belong to it all again….life.

(By Darkness / Reflections / Socio / Codex: 9926439-2006 / Revised EP edition 9926440-2007 – The Brotherhood Press 2007)

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24 Responses to “The Reason Why You Write…..”

  1. lazysusan said

    I dont really know why I write, all I know is, if I knew it all in. I really feel like exploding into a million pieces. So when I write as you rightly mentioned, its a form of release.

    I feel much better after that, may not solve anything but somehow I feel lighter as if a great weight has been lifted off my chest.

  2. dizzy said

    reflective and deep, it only happens when ppl write of course

  3. fading away said

    I write so that I don’t say this, some day in the unforeseeable future: “It didn’t happen”.

  4. lassie said

    In my parents house. There is a door post. At every stage of my life, its there. When I first had my period. The time when my Ah Kong passed on. When I entered University. It is just a few lines darkness on the door, but its our history.

    I write so that my children will know what it meant for me to live my life in this time. I write so that no one will be able to lie to him or to tell him white was black or a circle is a square.

    I write bc I have the power to do so.

  5. scholarboy said

    I write to keep sane.

    We live in a funny world.

    They’re are many stupid ppl out there twisting the truth.

    They tell me things like, being a journalist in Singapore is the hardest job in the world. They tell me if I dont pay ppl what they deserve then my cow will die and I will starve and my sweetheart will end up working in some foreign country as a nanny.

    I know all these things arent true, so I write. I write to right it all.

    One day when I am dead and gone historians will sieve through all this crap in the internet.

    A fat man called the chronicler will tell them all there was once a ppl who lived and they never believed the lies that were told to them. These ppl had the courage to question, think and form their own opinions.

    I write bc I only live once. I am not a cat. I dont have nine lives. I only have this life and it must count, if life is worth living.

    Thats why I write. I write to tell the truth. Its Sunday, God is my witness.

  6. Trajan said

    I write bc I believe that I can make a difference.

  7. Dupro said

    You write extremely well, Darkness. Write on.

  8. Harphoon said

    I write bc I love my country – I know it is not perfect – but I write bc I know that I can make it so – I can stimulate ppl to think – and when they think, they take an interest, they can believe they are important no matter how big or small they are.

    Above all I write bc I know I can play a part in building a better tommorow.

  9. Ling said

    When my feelings get too complex for myself to understand, I write so I can work through those feelings and find release. “Literature is life embellished.”, I say. In real life, I could have lost a friend and not know how to express my sense of loss, but in my make-believe world of story-writing, the loss is dramatized, my feelings are expressed through the life of my character, and I find closure.

    But now, I write also for a greater cause. For society. For my country. For the truth. I want to use the power of language to make a difference in my homeland. I want to let others like me know that it’s normal to feel angry when we encounter injustice, sad when we witness suffering and hopeless when we can’t see the light. At the same time, I want to use my words to comfort, encourage, and inspire. I want to encourage my fellow Singaporeans that perhaps all is not yet lost, and if we stay, united, we may just be able change our part of the world for the better.

  10. Ling said

    Sorry, two typos:

    1. “Literature is life embellished,” I say.

    2. “… we may just be able *to* change our part…”

    Sorry, I got to do this (editing). It’s an occupational hazard. *:p

  11. astroboy said

    I write so to remind myself not to talk rubbish when I am 80 something that way I will be respected.

  12. tan b l said

    I write so that I can feel the honesty of my muscles as the truth forms. It is so very easy to nod ones head and tow the line when others are doing the same, but when I write. I am all alone.

    It is difficult to do the same when its just you.

  13. sphgirl said

    I write to make sure that I dont lose the capacity to think critically.

  14. caleb said

    The reason why I write from time to time is because others before me dared to write and I read. I would not be where I am today had it not been for those people who once dared to write. I dont know many of them personally. I have never even met up with them for so much as a drink or a cup of coffee, but without them my life would have been really an unexamined existence. So I write to give a bit back. I write to say thank you in my little.I write to say thanks for taking the effort and time. I write to say thanks for sharing. I write because I dont know how long I can con’t writing.

  15. carinna said

    I cont very much to read and write bc I know the story of a triumphal trip home, itself an act of national building is well told and documented by historians.

    It evokes the frail seedling from which the might oak will one day grow out from

  16. raintree said

    I have never ever really thought why I write till now. I guess thats a start

  17. running with wolfs said

    One of the reasons why I write is bc there is notthing to read in the ST. When I write it is abit like shouting out or just punching my pillow. A release

  18. repairman said

    I heard from the chronicler darkness wrote this on the trail in BT. I think it came right out of his heart.

  19. I write to feel that I am still myself, and that others may see my opinion in a sea of narratives.

    I write to stay true to myself.

    I write to inform and open the doors of debate.

    What do you wish to write about today? 😉

  20. oskar said

    I write as a means of entering the ‘public’.

    Sometimes to create mayhem.

    Sometimes just for the sound of it.

    I write because writing is one medium of the arts—I could paint if I wanted to; I’d prefer, in fact.

    Sometimes however, writing need not say nor mean anything.

    What do you think the sparrow that comes hopping by, may make of those weird symbols anyway?

    I think he might call them, ‘drawings’.

  21. Atomic Monkey said

    I dont really know why I write to be perfectly honest.

    I havent really given it much thought till I read this post.

    One reason is because when I write, stuff just gets clearer. I have to take a position when I come across conflicting information and different POV’s.

    That I guess is how a person grows when he or she begins to take a position, rightly or wrongly, it is mine to call my own.

    So I have to defend it till of course someone says, “hey this is something to consider.”

    But if I didnt write in the first place that wouldn’t even happen.

    Life just goes on and I am not very comfortable with that.

  22. oskar said

    Though perhaps the better question would be:

    ‘Why do you even speak, at all?’

    Of which the short answer—at least for me—would be:

    ‘Tell me please, that I am not alone.’

    If every person is different because one’s experiences cannot be replicated in its entirety, what makes you think that someone will, understand?

  23. nonsuch said

    I write to compose music.

  24. Tilip said

    I write bc of her. We were 3000miles apart. I guess my mind are simpler in words then jibarish that I speak off.

    Nowaday, i write when i am sad. i write when i am happy. most of the time i write bc i have no one to share my thoughts with. Anything and everything can trigger me to write. I write when my emotion is risen, when my heart beats abnormally.

    🙂 I WRITE SO I CAN KNOW MYSELF BETTER. TO KNOW ONE’s SELF is the ROad to Enlightment.

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