Writing is a bunch of characters set down on a screen or a piece of paper in black and white. The principal use of this procedure is to convey a message from one brain to another. Writing though is highly susceptible to a lot of egocentric phobias via their creators—the author.
Writing for film, television or stage is also the use of characters on a screen or a piece of paper. Much like a larva in its original stage, this type of writing changes into a butterfly when spoken.
Which of the two—written or spoken—is the most powerful? The most compelling? The most useful? This is the spat we’re heavily into at the moment.
Many people become hooked on comic books when they are young and therefore never do acquire the habit of actual linear reading. A good number continue with their comic book world on into adulthood and watch Marvel Comic movies or Adam Sandler films as their true source of intellectual stimulation.
A certain segment of our population suffers from dyslexia, an impaired ability to understand or work with written language. By no fault of their own, they have not been dealt a hand in the world of linear writing or reading.
Even so, I am amazed at the number of people who actually DON’T read books and who aren’t dyslexic. A number of my friends fit into this category. Somehow they never picked up the practice. Perhaps their brains cannot visualize all those words and characters. Instead their stimulation comes from talking people’s ears off on the telephone or by meeting their friends for lunch or getting their nails and hair done and talking with their beauty operators. Many people simply do not read books. Instead their stimulus in life comes from socializing. As a supplement to this activity, movies and TV round out their mental incentive.
Thank goodness though there are still tons of folks who are “book people”. Nook and Kindle have slipped in there as a sort of ambulatory artificial intelligence but that’s okay with me. These people are still reading. Yet you have many diehards who are against these electronic word tablets. They say they’d rather have a book in their hands any day. Hooray to them too.
So where are we in the war between words and the visual? I’d say presently more books are being published yet fewer are being read. For example, we have more cookbooks on the market than ever before yet fewer people are heating up their stoves and cooking. With the spoken word, we have a glut of visual material bombarding us every day on TV, at the local cinema and on the internet—and of course YouTube. Have our brains grown larger in order to accommodate all these books and visuals? I would say a resounding no. I believe that mediocrity has become the new way of life in both these two areas.
We used to have what became known as Classical films—mainly those films of the thirties and early forties. They seemed to deal mostly in social issues even if they were comedies.
Then we had the brutality of World War II that left 48 million civilians and military killed—6 million Jews, 6 million Gays, Catholics, Gypsies and others as well as 20 million Russians. After the war, people appeared to become more introspective. We began thinking too much. We ended up with comedy not really being funny and drama being far too turgid. On the telephone we began speaking to robots and punching numbers in response. People seemed to become robots themselves and started responding to life as though it were canned laughter on a TV sit com. We presently are torn between vampires and blood letting of every imaginable sort and two-hour films of continuous explosion and gunfire that have become our entertainment norm.
Books were not far behind. They became run-away best sellers for dealing with nothing more than adultrified sex, first-time sex, unusual sex and just getting a little. Up sprouted romance novels, Peyton Place type novels and before long the ins and outs of wizardry, culminating with Harry Potter. Our printed pages seemed to be dealing more with the flashy and unreal than the beautiful and the real.
So, printed words or spoken words? Which is ruling the day? I’d say the choice is pretty much fifty-fifty. Both are in need of general repair. That will not happen until we find someway to be fair and equitable to the underdog in the writing profession and reintroduce the beautiful in life. Kick tawdry into the gutter where it belongs.