Addressing your audience

Hello-Ni hao-Hola-Selam

My first post will be to address many of the reasons as to why I’m starting this blog. I would like to say it is for you dear reader but that would be a sly and coy lie. My intentions are quite more sinister and can be found at the root of a hidden truth that most will disagree with.

For all those who are reading this…stop! I’m not liable for the interpretations you formulate or draw from this post or any that will follow in the future. 

The first rule I teach my students about writing is to remember that your audience is more important than your beliefs, ideas, intentions, or purpose.


“But teacher, I meant that…,” the student says as I quietly look over the paragraph he has written.

“Mhmm,” I say as I’m still glossing. He reaches for the paper and I torque my body. My eyes are still skimming.

“Teacher! It’s my paper.” His voice has grown a little louder and contains a little more sternness. I smirk. Some of the students look up for a moment then return to their own papers.

“No it’s not,” I retort, “It’s mine now. I think you really meant to say that…” He sighs and slumps his shoulders communicating his defeat. 

It is important to me that he realizes the difference between speaking and writing–implicitly at first. The moment an audience starts reading a piece of writing the author’s ideas and intentions become decontextualized in the face of an onslaught of re-contextualization by the reader. How many times has the canon of classical literature been churned over and over again to be re-examined throughout human history? How many break-ups have been effected by the gross interpretation of a letter? How many courtroom battles have been decided on the basis of a strategically placed (or misplaced) word? How many millions of lives have been affected and will be affected by the scribbling of one or two words which are left to the interpretations of our progeny? You may think I’m being over generous about the power of writing, audience, and interpretation, but one need to only look to the U.S. Bill of Rights or Swift’s A Modest Proposal to understand such a phenomenon.

“It’s good, I like it. Keep up the good work,” I say as I hand it back.

 


No matter what you write people are free to interpret it however they want. It isn’t yours anymore. It may be analogous to raising a child. You nurture, edit, tailor, educate, and spell check the little bugger, but eventually you have to let it go (I only say it “may be” analogous because I haven’t raised a child yet although I do teach them on a daily basis). I was reminded of this fact recently when I finished Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. For those naysayers or supporters, I feel like you can’t truly support/defend the theory or attack it without first reading the source directly. In terms of audience interpretation, it has become so distorted over the last century due to personal agenda (by all parties involved) that many do not fully understand the premises or the true meaning of “natural selection,” “reproduction,” “genealogical descent,” or the biggest one, “evolution.” If you want an independent interpretation, read it. Otherwise, let other people interpret it how they want for you.

Dear reader, feel free to interpret my writing how you please. I am largely writing to fulfill my own selfish desires. I hope you enjoy reading my posts and I look forward to your attention and interpretations.

Lastly, thank you dear reader for taking the time out of your day to read what I have written.


Cordially,

Yet another nomadic disciple

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