a stunning paragon of nomenclature (semperar) wrote in taoistwisdom,
a stunning paragon of nomenclature
semperar
taoistwisdom

the faults of language.

In the classic taoist concept of cultivating skill, there is an implication, I feel, of serving a function, or a tangible necessity to the world around you.

Zhuangzi's classic parables of his favorite butcher, whom he admired greatly, have always made this implication to me. The butcher effortlessly weaved his blade through his subjects, as if taking the skilled brushstrokes of an master artist.

It was a skill to contributed to the greater course of things. The butcher has a key, functional role in even the simplest society.

As a matter of pursuit and skill, I was greatly encouraged by teachers and friends to write. I remember particularly well one teacher that was, more than likely, the best I ever had. She tolerated my hyperactive and inept behavior to a saintly degree and always urged me to keep up high standards for my own writing and creativity. If anything, using words was the most outstanding skill I developed.

Never, however, did I pursue it. I didn't take any extra writing classes, put forth any unique efforts, or take any large opportunities, even here in college. Something in my upbringing always gave me the impression that there simply wasn't money or a sustainable living to be found in writing, and it was not conducive to a functional lifestyle.

Having recently found more and more incentive to pursue it, and my outlook on life and priorities having matured, I am finally returning to it, but am struck by an intangible sort of dilemma.

One of the first tenets of Taoism that fascinated me was the inherent flaws and paradoxical nature of human language. Words are, of course, simply primitive tools for expressing ourselves understandably.

I really do believe that. Words are simply our struggle to understand eachother. Writing lacks the literal manifest of a butcher or a craftsman. Those express themselves in clear, tangible, and undeniable senses. Writing, even if nonfiction or news, is a semi-tangible practice with an unavoidable, non-negateable, and altogether inescapeable margin of error.

Zhuangzi expressed the importance and joy of cultivated skill reaching a point of spontaneous flow. At the same time, he was infamously skeptical of the nature of our languages. Though it is a necessary convention, he always seemed to distrust it. This much I certainly understand.

So, despite the spontaneous and cultivateable nature of writing, this conflict subtly gnaws at me. Is writing a real skill? Something that you can refine and lose yourself within? It certainly seems to, yet the fact that it is a flawed endeavor makes it seem like a forgone conclusion.

I'm certainly not stressing terribly over it, but I can't help but wonder how to answer this notion. What do you think?
  • Post a new comment

    Error

    default userpic

    Your IP address will be recorded 

  • 6 comments
If flawed, our language is a natural part of our existance. To write well is to cultivate a natural skill of communication. These are my passing thoughts.
Look at the impact the sword has had in the far east for the past 5000 years, nations have been built by it, and nations have fallen by it. Only one thing holds more reverence and respect than the sword...

...and the pen is mightier than the sword.

To write well is of the greatest of skills.
I recommend checking out a book called- Sin and Syntax.
It's a great little learning tool for me.
And to get around all the hshh, why not just say, "Words impart knowledge, but not Understanding." If knowledge is rightly applied, Understanding will come, and then we can easilly pardon the poor word's intrinsic inadequacy.
"Words impart understanding, action imparts knowledge."
Words are divided into many languages and is used for people to understand only the people who know them. If I only know English, it would make no sense for a Chinese man to talk to me or write to me since I do not understand him. However, I am a firm believer of "action speaks louder than words," and that right action is the universal language anyone can understand. Of course, not all action is understandable without an explanation, but perhaps that is not right action. Right action I believe can be spoken and understood by all. Not many have this skill, but when mastered, silence truly is golden and action speaks volumes.

As for the art of writing, I believe that it is subject to flaw if it si labeled "great" because anything "great" that is written is translated often into many languages and something is always lost in translation. The original work may be masterfully written, but perhaps it is just when it undergoes trranslation where it loses some of its luster. Mastering the art of writing is limited to the language in which you're writing in, but otherwise is a great skill. This is what I believe Zhaungzi may have been referring to, but if I'm wrong, then I'll have to apologize to him in the afterlife. ;)
So, despite the spontaneous and cultivateable nature of writing, this conflict subtly gnaws at me. Is writing a real skill? Something that you can refine and lose yourself within? It certainly seems to, yet the fact that it is a flawed endeavor makes it seem like a forgone conclusion.

Writing is as much a skill as any other learned skill one may possess. How much or little effort one brings to the skill contributes to how skilled one becomes.
But writing is also a talent, and like other innate talent, how much of the talent one has also contributes to how skilled one becomes.
Writing gives pleasure to both author and reader, the one in telling the story, the other in reading it.

All things are flawed, by their nature. Writing no more or less than anything else.

What I think is: write if you enjoy it, write if you want to do so. Don't deny yourself as author the pleasure of telling your stories, in person, on paper, or however you wish, simply because writing is a flawed endeavor.

Is writing a "real" skill? That depends on your definition of a "real skill". Is it worth your while to write? If you think it is, then it is.