Creatures of language

In my American Lit. class yesterday, my professor said, “We are creatures of language. The power to use language sets us apart, distinguishing human beings from animals, and as human beings we so often become intoxicated with that power; the average man’s urge to speak regularly overrides his capacity to listen. However, the writer is a deviation from the extroverted human condition… he is the person with the most interesting thing to say, because he has first kept silent and listened to the voices that differ from his own.”

I think it’s worth mentioning that as a writer himself, my professor is completely biased, but I won’t deny that I thought that his statement deserved a standing ovation. Any extrovert who can eloquently defend the importance of introversion has my official approval for all eternity.

I could not agree more with the idea that the best writers are most often the quietest people in the room. I know more than one person who absolutely refused to speak up in class or workshop, and it turned out that that person had the best ideas of everyone.

Maybe I support the cause of the introvert because I am one at heart. But I think most people twist the definition of an introvert into something that just isn’t true; being an introvert does not [necessarily] mean that you are so painfully shy that you can’t say two words without blushing, nor does it mean that you can’t stand up in front of an audience and speak your mind on occasion. To me, being introverted is more about introspection than insecurity.

In my experience, extroverted people much prefer to think out loud. Writers prefer to think on paper, which is, by all accounts, an extremely private form of communication. Inscription carries with it an air of permanence, which suggests that whatever words are penned have been carefully selected to serve an exact purpose. I think that—separate from speech—writing is a very personal way of presenting an idea, but so much of the intimacy has been lost on a generation of digital media. That is one of the reasons why I am so adamantly against the idea of e-books (I went there); social media has already taken away so much of what is beautiful and real about written correspondence, why should we continue down that path by inventing something that only helps us further lose touch with reality?

…’kay, how did I get on this subject. I swear, I started this post with the intention of talking about my somewhat mental English professor (this is not, by the way, the professor on whom I based a character… the one with the awesome tattoos and beard). Oh well… that’s what happens when you get me going. Lately, I seem to be constantly circling back to the inherent evil in Kindles.

Anyway, my American Lit. professor might be a madman, but he certainly knows how to deliver an inspiring speech. The dude is an oasis of metaphors and quotes of Thomas Jefferson. Besides that, he frequently lectures us on how we writers are the backbone of revolution.

And that tends to boost my ego.

–Samantha Chaffin


2 thoughts on “Creatures of language

  1. TheJaneite says:

    I love that thought!! Biased or not, it’s quite an ego-booster and I think quite lovely. I am totally an introvert; I am content with fewer, closer friends, writing and (VERY occasionally) journaling my thoughts, and letting people for the most part be surprised that I am a person driven by goals and (I like to dream) talent. Usually (pathetic, possibly also homeschooler moment here) I meet someone, become friends with them a bit, and then get to know them better over facebook / email before we REALLY truly hit it off. Then next time we see each other we’re thick as thieves. I am definitely more comfortable expressing myself through writing, even if that means typing. 🙂
    (By the by, I’m with you on the e-Book hate. There is NOTHING like an actual book. Absolutely nothing.)
    And yes, introverted or not, when it comes to something I care about, I will always speak up. Even if it is sometimes uncomfortable, and I can speak a sentence without blushing / knocking knees / staring at my feet. You’re correct that not all introverts are like that. I have broken free of the usual homeschooler mold in that regard. 🙂
    So, I started this comment to tell you how I agreed with you, and ended up talking all about myself. Pardon me. 😛

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