Thursday, 30 April 2009

Word Search

I watched The Speaker last night on BBC2, which (from what I could gather) is about a load of (possibly disabled) children entering a public speaking contest to see which one of them behaves in the most freakishly adult way, and which one can deliver the most arse-clenching rhetoric in the weirdest, most pretentious terms without any effort because they're all such precocious little cunts.

Now, normally I'd ve shit knives I was so angry with them. But, (they call this a "key change" in music) there was ONE good thing about it all, namely the part where the contestents had to write their speeches. I'll just repeat that: they had to WRITE something which would then be SPOKEN. Which got me thinking all about the process of writing, and also about this book:

This cracking little tome is a spectacular bio-philosophical voyage into the workings of the human head. With sections on everything from speech, language, consciousness and even crying, it explains exactly how and why our heads work, exactly how and why it's the centre of our experience and also the centre of "ourselves".

You see, whenever you write something, those words will automatically, and unavoidably be spoken inside your head. The external, written word is formulated by an internal "spoken" dialogue we "hear" in our mind. Agreed? (Just say "yes" in your head). But weirdly, even though we never ever speak in the same way (tone/style/manner) we write, we quite often write to sound as though we're speaking. Understand? Like, I just asked you a question then, as though I'm actually in the room with you. I'm trying to create the impression of a conversation, by involving you in the action. Lucky you! (See I did it again). But anyone who's ever spoken to me will know that every third word is usually obscene. So sadly, this is a completely pretend conversation.

For years now, advertising copywriters have been hi-jacking the patterns speech to better reach their audiences. And whilst the pally, conversational informality of Innocent drinks' tone of voice makes its audience feel all wanky-warm and special, the real reason the written word is so much more powerful than speech is far less superficial.

Whilst human speech is direct, accessible, and innately appealing, it's function is purely short-term. The written word on the other hand serves a very different (higher) purpose. As Ray Tallis says: "By means of the unfading written word, the kitten-prints of thought are set in concrete: ideas can reach across the world and echo down the ages... writing is demonstation of how the collectivisation of human awareness through the written enables each mind to transcend its body."

Now, what was that you were muttering about copy being dead?

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