#6. Beliefs

Words are not words. They are sound. Sound is not sound. It is meaning. Meaning is not meaning. It is idea. Ideas are not ideas. They are the universe. The universe is not the universe. It is the Word.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. – John 1:1

A writer cannot be agnostic. A writer cannot be an atheist. She must care about her words.

I may have gotten your ire. I am speaking religiously here. It is my opinion. It is my right to have an opinion. But now that I’ve got your attention I will speak more clearly. A writer cannot be agnostic about her work. A writer cannot not believe in her words. She must care about her words. She must want to see them live out their lives.

A writer must believe in her words. A writer cannot lose faith in her words. But what if the words go away? What if they are stopped by a block of granite? Words are not words they are sound. Sound is not sound it is meaning. What do her words feel like; what are they feeling for (reaching for)? What does she want to say? What are the ideas behind the words? Capture this, and you can remove the granite.

Faith can move mountains because a mountain is moved one pebble at a time. And without faith, what’s the point? Faith has a point, which is why it has a place in a writer’s mind of minds, and heart of hearts. The shortest route between two points is faith. Faith gets you to see that there is a way beyond the mountain. Writer’s block is just another word for faithlessness.

This line of thinking extends. If you are willing to see the world for what it is, for what it can be, then you might have a shot at creating knowledge, the writer’s highest aim (of course, the implication being that all knowledge is true knowledge, i.e. truth).

Beliefs are imperative. It is not enough to inhabit and capture a world of relative truth. We are not anthropologists, impartial historians, or distant academics (objectivity only exists in mathematics). Writers are always staking a claim. If you are a fool you can pretend that what you write is objective. Objectivity is welcome in the world of relative truth. But be careful, if you accept these rules, what you say today has no future. It is merely a tenant, renting a condemned room. “All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary” (Orwell, 1984, pg. 34).

This is not the same thing as seeing the elephant’s trunk for the elephant on the first day, and on the second, noticing that the elephant also has ears. There is both history and progress of idea in this phenomenon. Writers of relative truth will call the elephant a dog today and a business-meeting tomorrow. There is no history in this proposition, and there is no future. This writing is void of meaning.

You must stake your claim. You must be willing to fail and then fail again. You cannot be so afraid of being wrong that you take no position at all. You might be wrong, but at least you are stabbing in the dark and not cowering in the shadows.

We look through a darkened glass; but from where and in what direction? You must decide. You must understand. You must understand. You must decide.


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