Writing: Power and Catharsis

Writing as a phenomenon aims to createletters or characters that serve as visible signs of ideas, words, or symbols”, and is at its core a form of communication of the human verbal language. It’s a strategy, a simple matter of putting the spoken into specifically defined curbs of the visual, and is used on a daily basis by a great majority of people. It’s proceed in grocery lists, sticky notes, recollections of information, and a constant back-and-forth messaging. However, the idea of writing is most often associated with creativity, as the most simple of matters have become an industry of imagination. Writing, the formality of the term, has transformed into a form of art, which has made it more unaccessible, not for the public, but for the artists among us. However, this is not the only way to observe and use the tool of writing.

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George Orwell awed humanity with his novels about the totalitarian state, Malala Yousafzai used writing to solidify her activism and tell the story of rebellion, and Harriet Beecher Stowe was once called “the little lady who started the great war” by Abraham Lincoln for contributing to the war and the dismantling of slavery by writing her famous novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin from 1853. Writing and the written words are not only forms of art, but a tool of influence, and furthermore power. A common saying of writing is that the pen is the most powerful weapon (“The Pen is Mightier than the Sword”), also recurring in 1900s feminist theory with authors such as Virginia Woolf, Simone de Beauvoir, and Elin Wägner. These historical people of immense political influence all built their careers and rewrote the norms of society through their authorship, proceeding in the aim of writing by presenting ideas of priorly rarely discussed matters of women’s independence, gender as a social construct, and women’s collectives. And while the mentioned authors proceed their writings with artfulness, this depicts a reality in which writing necessarily isn’t centered around creativity, but rather only tool of presenting ideas and gaining influence and therefore power.

Writing can also be a form of therapy, a cleansing experience, catharsis. This can be done in various manners, but the most common one is journaling. To regularly use writing to communicate one’s thoughts and experiences in personal means is a tool to structuralize the brain into order and logic, transforming complex emotions into words and letting them be held by the fragile structure of a book spine; that is the most simple form of multiplex therapy. And to deepen this argument, the cleansing experience isn’t limited to the highly personal containment of a journal. The term catharsis originates from the works of Aristotle, in his Poetics (335 B.C) he established the notion of the expression to be the cleansing that comes with the production or consumption of art, primarily literature. The modern definition of the word is “purification or purgation of the emotions (such as pity and fear) primarily through art”.

Catharsis as a terminology isn’t targeted at the writing of personal matters, but the cleansing experience of the writing that is meant to and later proceeded to be published for other’s consumption. The original purpose was never specified to whom the terminology was created for, so the purpose of the act is only interpreted by literary scholars. It can be said to be a crucial part of authors’ processes of writing, for the finest literature is created through the purification of the soul, or also be a method for the audience to experience such powerful emotions and be cleansed by it, historically often during theatre shows.

Writing can be explained as the most complex form of art, since it forces humans to articulate emotions and thought processes perhaps too dynamic and abstract for the verbal communication that demands elaborate specification. However this is the ultimate form of expression, simply due to the complicated and patency of it. No other art form demands the same amount of sure instinct than writing, regardless of it being the most personal notes in a journal, a political statement, or a novel.




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