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To Write

Commentary

By Joshua A. Kaufman

For this, the final issue of The Crimson published under the 124th Guard, I would like to offer some reflections on the art which is at the heart of all we do at this paper. Here I speak of writing.

Writing is a deceptive activity. It appears to the general public, and to that lesser breed of writers, as an activity, something to be put on a summer camp agenda, if you will. The image of the writer is Hemingway at his typewriter in the jungle, or Woody Allen in his New York apartment.

Now, these images may be and probably are accurate. But like the books in which this activity will ultimately result, the act of typing masks the true content of what occurs in the creative process. The typewriter is the tool of the writer, but the printed character is not the end. It is merely an expression of the end, which is somewhat more elusive.

To write is foremost to create, to give birth to an idea, an expression.

To write is to represent, to image an experience or describe a passion.

To write is to repeat, to report on the happenings of the world or the activities of others.

To write is to summarize, to provide a history of a people, the fancies of a time past.

To write is to analyze, to give context to the summary, the repetition, the representation and the creation.

But "to write" is not only to do these things. It is to be involved in the process of doing these things, and in one's incarnation as a writer to fully become these processes and to make them human each time, to reject formula, to hate the sclerotic.

To write is to experiment, to opt for the new, to test the limits of the published.

To write is form to up break, a.k.a. Stein-ography, after Gertrude (Class of 1898), there, or not.

To write is to build, thenounaftertheverbaftertheadverbafterthearticle.

To write is to save, to preserve what is and what was for what is going to be.

To write is to destroy, to crumple old notions like old drafts and reimagine the obvious.

"To write" is, though, not so simple. It is not, for example, to produce a disposable product. To write one must have a sense of values, a writer's creed if you will. Not that anyone can be held responsible for such things, but perhaps God is watching.

To write is to be honest, to set truth above all in the name of the reader.

To write is to be fair, to level the playing field between the P.R. hack and the grape worker.

To write is to be blunt, to present the reader with the goods and reveal the love interests behind political intrigues.

To write is to respect, to honor the citizen and protect the privacy of those who haven't desired the spotlight but may have been born into it.

To write is to tell it like it is, to avoid neutrality at all costs, to be objective only through the telescope of morality.

"To write," it is true, is all these things, and more. "To write" is ultimately inexplicable and unbuyable--not even available through Kaplan. "To write" has a lot more at stake than scores. "To write" is itself a metaphysical concept.

To write is to receive.

To write is to give.

To write is to love.

To write is to hate.

To write is to live.

Joshua A. Kaufman's term as editorial chair of The Crimson ends today. He will somehow carry on.

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