Writing. It seems so insignificant. We do it so much, we forget how important its value is and what it took to create the highly stylized vernacular we speak and write today.
I write often. I write things that are strange. Things that often do not make sense. I write because my soul demands it of me as if it is the only realistic measure of capturing the essence of what I contain within myself. I write to bleed on the pages, to remember, and also to forget.
If we consider its history, writing may very well be the only real solution to every problem the world has. In fact it is so important, in 1839 playwright, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, is quoted as having said, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” I can only imagine the magnitude of importance he was hoping to convey in his statement:
Illegal activities? Let’s form a new government and write new laws.
Sad? Write poetry.
Want to tell your story to the world? Write a book.
Having a party? Invitations.
Need to say I am sorry? Write a letter, or buy a pre-written one that we refer to as “greeting cards.”
Throughout history, we have referenced written material to solve our problems, to find solutions, and to expand our knowledge. It is such an interesting phenomenon, I can not even imagine this world without literacy in it. How might that world look?
Bleak, meager, ignorant, and lonely are words that come to mind.
All of our wisdom, all of our advancements, all of our abilities-has all been consistently recorded throughout…well, almost forever. First came oral narration. Can you imagine reciting a story that is thousands of pages long? The ancients were masters of this craft. It seems so exhausting. I have difficulty remembering my grocery list most days, much less reciting an epic tale as voluminous as the Iliad or the Odyssey. Even more so-reciting the entire Old Testament. Then someone, somewhere along the way, started a profound revolution. He (or maybe a she?), said, “Hey guys, this memorization stuff kind of stinks-I have a super idea. Let’s make characters for each sound we make. We’ll call it Linear A.” (or perhaps something to that effect). (Linear A is thought to be the first form of writing in the world-Crete/Minoan civilizations circa 2,500 b.c. However, the Tartarian tablets of the Vinca culture found in 1961 signify even earlier methods of written communication; and again with Cuneiform script of ancient Sumeria, circa 3,000 b.c.).
This ancient Sumerian Cuneiform tablet happens to be uncanny in its survival. It is written instructions on how to allocate beer to thirsty workers. “Hey-who has the tablet? We have no idea how many beers everyone is supposed to get and our lunch break is almost over.” Of all the things we save in the world…it’s instructions on beer distribution. Priorities.
Epic of Gilgamesh, also known as the Flood Tablet. Circa 7th century B.C. Nineveh, Northern Iraq-relates the tale of the great flood similar to that of Noah’s journey in the Old Testament. Mind blowing mysteries.
Writing. It is pure genius. I imagine old guys lounging around in white togas making up scribble marks of dashes, lines, and circular angles and arguing over names like “Alpha” and “Delta.” Then, I wonder, why is there no holiday to celebrate Linear A guy’s achievement? Honestly, I hope he received a Nobel Prize in his day for what he (or maybe she?) created-the art of writing; a primitive advancement that revolutionized the entire world. On that note, I’ll close with this final thought. When we tiresomely reach for a pen to scribble our next project, or recall an assignment-it took thousands of years of cultivation in writing to become the advanced civilization we are today. It is there-right there, where we can in turn humbly reflect on how many of our predecessors were denied such an overlooked privilege, and yet we get to enjoy its mediocrity everyday.
The Phaistos Disk
Circa 4,000 b.c.