DRMacIver's Notebook

Speech and Writing

Speech and Writing

(Heads up: I'm really struggling at the moment so I'm leaning extra hard on the fact that it's better to phone it in than not write)

From The Art of Not Being Governed by James C. Scott, page 389:

This is why Socrates believed that writing out his teachings effectively destroyed their meaning and value, whil it is just this instability, spontaneity, and improvisation of speech that made Plato so suspicious of drama and poetry.

This is an endnote to page 230:

From the moment a spoken text (a particular performance) is frozen in writing as preserved speech, it effaces most of the particularity of its origin - cadence, tone, pauses, accompanying music and dance, audience reaction, bodily and facial expression - any one of which might be essential to its original meaning.

This connects up to a couple things for me:

I'm a big fan of writing. This should not be a surprise to you. But there does seem to be something fundamentally different about speech that is lost in writing (and vice versa), and I'm definitely feeling its lack at the moment.