Once an idea has been canvassed and given a form, does it still belong to the author? It has been an ongoing concern where the relationship between the author and the reader is repeatedly struggled to be established in sync. It is a notion first brought to thought by Roland Barthes that “with the death of the author coincides the birth of the reader”.
Writing is a larger concept. It is a domain. It is a genre in itself.
The authenticity of the written word has more validity then the one which is when uttered. But when we are bringing in the debate are we trying to establish writing as an authoritative medium which holds basis for a perspective message or are we simply considering it as one of the methods where people are just penning down whatever runs in their mind.
Today, when we speak of Literature we consider those works which have a written existence. Any and every piece of writing which has come down to us in the form of tablets, manuscripts, books, anthologies etc. has been clubbed together under one header.
Does this means that the oral tales and folklore doesn’t constitute in the header of Literature?
The answer is No.
With time, whatever has been produced or re-produced on paper and print has gained an edge over what has been just transferred from mouth through generations. A dialogue might change its complete form when uttered by ten different people. But when the same is written on a piece of paper and is made to read will not lose its essential structure.
Writing in any language is not just a collection of statements making coherence out of the given set of alphabets. It is not just about putting together terms which might be able to make sense. Writing is a tool which enables and strengthens people to craft something on paper which becomes a mouthpiece of their thoughts.
Creativity is a broader term. It is a projection of an idea on a more material surface which is able to hold substance. A blank space on paper is like an empty canvas where ideas are given proper shape so that they make sense.
Sartre speaks of “artistic creation” which is essential for keeping the stepping stone but further elements are equally important when one is considering the final output.
Any work of art belongs to its author till the point it is in private domain i.e. the only recipient is the author himself. The moment anything is in public eye it becomes open to criticism and interpretation which extends to the point that the basic meaning might come under question. Sartre has even questioned the author’s own psyche after he has created and then evaluates his own creation. He then becomes both an author-reader within one soul.
Writing is a Genre within which rests sub genres for not every piece of writing is meant for publication; some are just channelized opinions arranged structurally. It is an act of achieving confidence within oneself where when there is a volcanic eruption of ideas within one’s head and it doesn’t find a gateway – it does through the ink.
Writing is not a mathematical problem which will have certain steps according to which the correct answer will be deduced. It is a form of expression. It is subjective and has no limits of its extension.
Theorists and researchers have found traces and legacies on which different works are categorized in different forms on which they have been written.But that doesn’t mean that those certain sets are the only forms of writing.
If today, one introduces some new approach, it has an equal validation for it is a production which is capable of voicing out a perspective idea. Different tools within writing like sarcasm and figures of speech are ways which strengthen a writing individual to bring fineness in his craft like an artist who can present a better image of scenery through paint instead of just using a pencil.
Sartre in his essay has premised certain points which he rather argues as basis on which writing should be put into forefront or not?
But as readers when we read his written thought we might agree or disagree and that is the focal point.
Understanding of the written word is a broader concept for not only it is an effort to grasp the meaning which is literal or metaphorical but also the intent behind it.
How and why, when something is shaped in to a syntactical meaning holds authenticity and becomes a matter of moral debate?
Aristotle remarks that “letters are not the same for all men, although affections of the soul are” and thus tries to establish the relationship between the speech and writing and how every written word is not a medium of communication.
Socrates says, “Written words are unnecessary, except to remind him who knows the matter about which they are written.” “Writing, he reasoned, was just a memory aid, but could not substitute for speech, which was always bound to a speaker who could be asked for clarification. In contrast, written words were silent, they lacked the immediacy of speech, they were dead.”
Language as a tool is understood to come naturally to people who grow up in a certain cultural setting.Therefore whether they are literate or not, know how to read or write or not, they develop a system of communication through this ‘acquired’ or ‘learnt’ language.
Writing then takes an important place in such a context where it leaves its meaning of communication and attains a much higher meaning of ‘articulation of thoughts’.
A process whereby the author is developing something out of memory or creativity and is adding to the large ocean of productions which have a potential of reaching out to the audience who might read or not.
The written word is that art for which no formal training is required. Every educated being who knows how to read and write can produce through his faculty.
With time people who have dwelt in the study have emerged with formal branches and theories which segregate different written works into categories and call them certain names based on certain parameters.
But the larger truth remains that when we are establishing the caricature of the written word we are not considering it only under the header of Literature but anything and everything which is able to provide potential meaning.The authorial invention intrigues questions not just on the produced text but also on a number of related factors which make the particular piece of work in question reliable and authentic.
Plato believed that ‘speech is given form in the written format through poetry’ but doesn’t then follows the obvious thought of finding the hidden meaning lying between the lines of poetry.
It is this need of understanding of the meaning which makes the understanding of the written word more than just a task of reading what exists in print.
Once we have established the idea why a written word differs from the spoken word, it is equally important to bring to light the figure behind the two. Being in the male dominated society where patriarchal word has an edge above the matriarchal one is a trend which has been following ever since and the ‘feminist’ struggle is going on to bring the two on an equal platform.
There are certain stereotypical notions which are existent even in the larger domain of Literature where it is assumed that a female writer is only capable of writing about ‘family and relationships’ especially in regard with Jane Austen and her works.
In the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth century it was a preconceived notion that women are confined to domestic space and they can only operate in that setting.
Defying this ideology, Mary Shelly with her work Frankenstein (1818) set a benchmark by creating a piece of work whose working field was so called a male arena. The subject matter dealt with science and third world for which women were considered incapable of knowing.
In the twentieth century we have women writers like Virginia Woolf who brought to light how women are capable and potential enough to think for themselves and write beyond ‘family and relationships’.
They are also flesh and blood and have numerous ideas impregnating in their minds which sought space on paper. The gradual shift from using male pseudo names to receiving acknowledgement in their own names has taken turns of centuries. The requirement of ‘a room of one’s own’ now seems to seek in and find its space in the lives of women who are finally attempting to write.
In the twenty first century, the best selling work Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling still reflects the hint of a ‘male name’ in the female writer in order to get published and be accepted.
This is true that women writers have emerged in abundance and are finding their own space but it is also true that till date they struggle for their manuscripts to get published and are always seen as works by female subjects.
E.L James the author of the famous Fifty Shades Trilogy was again assumed to be a male writer considering the content of the novels and the abbreviated name. The adult romance which has been described with explicit details is something which has even lead to the ban of the book in some countries.
After establishing the controversial idea of the name of the author, speaking of the similar content D.H Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928) also suffered a similar fate due to the matter which rested in the pages between the covers. A text which was considered pornographic was in reality a reflection of what prevailed in society and was not new. But what was astonishing was its coming in print in the public and thus the written word gaining the stature above the already known reality.
The question then still remains intact what is it that is considered the ‘acceptable’ written word. Aren’t experiences which happen behind the doors or the ones which are ‘darker’ or ‘un–talked’ of when given a voice through a writing medium becomes more ‘understandable’ then when they are just vague ideas?
There are broadly two major observations which can be made considering the vast span of literature through centuries. One is the content of the text and second is the creating force behind it. If we consider the sexist debates then we have clear examples of how segregated are the works of ‘one and the other’ where ‘one’ is the male figure and the ‘other’ is the female.
This idea is a matter of permutation and combination where what is considered privileged, intellectual and worthy is assumed to fall in court of the male writer while what is less acknowledged, easy and less important is marked against the name of the female writer.
Alice Walker in her book entitled The Colour Purple(1982) brings out a completely new style of writing where the protagonist is a black woman narrating her side of the story in an epistolary format; being in the third world and bringing out a totally new acceptable style of using incorrect English to connect more with the character and reader in the larger sense.
Here what comes as a blow at the receiving end when we see in the light of the post-colonial reading is how firstly a Black woman writer has gone leaps and bounds and has sentimentalized the ink which is saying what is seen but not given a mic to voice out and secondly how strongly we get the sense of understanding of that side of the coin whose existence cannot be denied through this text.
The act of writing is not only to publish but also to vent out which is either forcibly subsumed or doesn’t get the right ears to be listened. We need the word to tell the world how strong this process is and as it is said that “the pen is mightier than the sword” therefore validation of the word brings alongside the acceptability and understanding of it.
Writing offers that horizontal platform from where whatever is professed becomes a structural meaning giving unit. There are numerous genres with the help of which articulation of ideas can take place. But at the same time writing is itself a genre where there is always a scope of bringing out that thought which has not yet been defined.
The word is also equivalent to be categorized in some header of literature but it is all the more a projection of un-arrayed strain of thoughts which are knit together to form a beautiful cardigan.The paper aims on bringing down the word to the level of an atom and observing it as not only the medium of speech but a level above it.
Writing is an extension which has enabled and strengthened individuals to color those grey areas which would have always remained blurred.
The idea of writing is in co-existence with the idea of reading but it is also as independent in caricature as dependent it might sound. The knowledge which is channelized and transferred from one mind in thought to the pen on the paper has the potential of enlightening as many recipients as it passes through.
The world needs open arms to accept all that is offered and understand why it is so, to acknowledge and appreciate the endeavor of those who invest in the task of writing. Criticism is a much later debate which has no end,but what is primary is to give room for the idea to evolve and circulate.