When Writing Was Relevant

Ah, wouldn’t it be wonderful to go back to the days of minstrels and ballads? When your only form of entertainment was hearing about the derring-do and exploits of some roguish knave, spun into lyrics and cooly couched into a lilting melody? Wouldn’t it be nice to go back to the days of AM radio, when family members put aside their differences to huddle a little closer to a small speaking box that delivered their news with finesse and enthusiasm? To be blunt, what happened to the power of words? Has it all but disappeared into the dust that could fit on the dot of an “i”?

Well, I spoke with a professor of mine tonight, and he made an incredibly poignant point: forensic scientists are not tossing and turning at night trying to decide whether they should follow their passion. But those in the humanities are faced with a difficult decision: pursue it or eschew it.

Indeed, society’s pendulum has swung back, and we no longer treasure the humanities or the arts. We perceive people who want to develop a career as a writer (for example) as selfish. But forensics science? Well, you are contributing something to society then, if that is your major. And you are putting the needs of society first (because we need CSI: Omaha, Nebraska), so you can have a fat paycheck as well…

After all, the English majors are just as important as the pre-med/pre-law students in the world, just in different ways. You may be discovering a cure for cancer, sure, but we are the magazines in every treatment waiting room. We are the stack of books you can escape to while receiving your chemo therapy. Hell, we are why you chose the hospital you did. It was because they marketed themselves to you in a way that you couldn’t refuse. That all exists due to language, my friends. And it has power, and the people who wield it have power. Even if society refuses to acknowledge that.

Or perhaps, we acknowledge it too much. Now, with everyone playing the author and everyone existing as a reader through social media, maybe we are putting too much on blast. Maybe we are so surrounded by words that it becomes difficult to distinguish what we should pay attention to. And yet, by the same token, wouldn’t that make the most inspiring prose or uplifting poetry all that more refreshing?

It’s sort of like when you are swimming in a pool, and you feel a warm spot. You notice it, and suddenly you are trying frantically to find its source. That’s what good writing should do: make you feel kind of warm and make you want to know more. And in this way, we need to make writing relevant again.

After all, the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

But more importantly, the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

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