Chapter 48: Bringing thought to paper

Pure human thought cannot be represented by anything mankind has yet invented or discovered. Its complex processes are so otherworldly that we must be careful in their translations to word. The right side of our brain, responsible for logical thinking, can best be represented by the laws of mathematics and computer programming. The left side possesses the creativity inherent in all of mankind, and it is from this side that poetry comes. Poetic at times, literature can also contain logic and reason. Due to this great care must be taken when writing, because both sides of the brain combine to undertake a task. Critical thinking combines the two realms of thought and remains absolutely necessary in the writing process.

F. Brooks said that “the programmer, like the poet, works only slightly removed from pure thought-stuff.” Looking at the extreme form a paper can assume is to examine the poetry-code relationship. A verbose paper which communicates nothing is the polar opposite of a tool which uses no verbal tools but contains all the necessary facts. The optimal paper or literary work utilizes a delicate balance of presentation and content with neither too much nor too little of both.

Poetry, the soul dried on paper, presents emotions in raw form and the notes of someone’s thoughts as they come to them. Emotional and creative human thoughts are not refined by definition, and only with years of converting thoughts into words is a person able to skip intermediate steps and simply furnish a paper with finished words.

The same can be said with the other side of writing. Not employed to describe the human writing process, computer programming is useful as it allows humans to think in a language of pure meaning. Each symbol and keyword has an exact meaning, universal and defined. In poetry each word can adopt many meanings, and an extensive search of the context must be made to derive significance. While computer code remains the same to any reader, poetry redefines itself to each individual.

Writing is the combination of both thought types, and its goal is to produce a literary work that conveys meaning and content to the reader. The writing process cannot be done in one sitting; it is not the primary outpouring of an idea that the author had in his head. Human thoughts are fleeting and not always caught the first time around.

Writing can be a tortuous experience to someone who does not embrace its process well. To combine the logic and creativity of one human thought into the limited tapestry that is language requires skill and patience. Critical thinking, or the analysis of concepts and what they represent, is the key to conveying unique human ideas.

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