Joe Kalicki

Reflection #2

The process of writing on clay presents some interesting differences in the way we produce content in an era of highly and rapidly manipulatable computer interfaces. For example, writing on a difficult to work surface leads to much more deliberate writing. You must fully think out the sentence you are preparing to write, decide whether or not the adjectives and "unnecessary" words are worth including, and then you must actually write letter by letter, making sure that you don't mess up, because repairing a writing surface isn't exactly as easy as backspacing. It's evident that certain genres of writing could not have existed until manual typewriters. It's no surprise that free-flowing forms of literature like the stream-of-consciousness writers in the 1960s didn't exist until their electric typewriters became widely used. Presentation is another important factor when working within limited space. It's efficient to go point-by-point, eliminating linking words and basically communicating in a purely informative, informational manner, quite the utilitarian approach in comparison to the artsy, free flowing manner in which we are often taught to write (or at least praised for) in many of our English classes. But I believe this efficiency points out something about rhetoric and I believe it’s summed up into one word, “calculation”. Calculation is key in writing effective rhetoric. You must reflect upon the connotative and denotative meanings of every word and review it in context of the sentences. There are so many places to tighten up the information you desire to deliver and because of our ability for infinite letters and infinite paper (digital or real), we often don’t choose the direct path, we prefer to meander and explore tangential areas. This is not a luxury a writer in the time of Plato or Aristotle had. And it’s probably why much of their writing sounds blunt or cold. Alas, it’s also the reason why they often distilled concepts down into single terms (e.g. kairos, catharsis, etc.). You needn’t waste space explaining everything when terms are established and condensed into a phrase or word. I feel like the activity also exposed the usefulness of symbolic language (or literal symbols). The implications of directions, for example, requires the use of implied terms like “up the hill”, “around the corner”, or literal left or right arrows.

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