Writing Truth in a Mad World Part I: Theory
by Jack Gist
I shunned copywriting for many years because most books I read on the subject and most of the copy I came across (it is legion) convinced me that it was designed, at bottom, to manipulate. It doesn’t matter if you convince yourself that you are manipulating for a good cause, or more likely, for decent pay: it is still manipulation.
I didn’t want to earn a living by manipulating others. Manipulation has negative connotations that are usually associated with being dishonest. I didn’t like the idea of being a professional liar.
Today, language, in general, is seen by many, even most, as a tool with which to manipulate. Thanks to philosophers like Nietzsche, Derrida, Foucault, and many others, language is seen to be all about power. Power has become the only truth there is.
We live in a world where words don’t necessarily have to correspond to reality to be true because there is no reality outside language. Language has imprisoned reality.
“Everybody has their own truth,” is the mantra in colleges and universities. We can choose our sex, gender, and our virtues. Where there is no common standard, winners are the ones who are able to manipulate others into believing their versions of truth, whether it be gender fluidity, critical race theory, or whatever. Virtue, because it can mean anything, no longer exists.
Bottom line: he who manipulates best controls the narrative and thus creates reality.
Sad story. What to do? Give up writing altogether and take a vow of silence? Is this the only way out of this hellhole of language?
No. Language is seen to create reality only when truth has been reduced to a form of manipulation.
The universe was around for a really long time before humans came along. Odds are, it’ll still be around when humans are long gone. Humans don’t create reality through language; reality creates language through human experience. Where language corresponds to reality we find truth and set it free.
So, all you writers out there—whether you write novels, copy, blogs, poems, or news—take heart. Don’t think of language as a tool to manipulate but rather a means to discovering truth. Use language to connect to reality so you can relate truth to your audience. That’s all. Sound easy? It’s not.
It takes practice, especially if you have been trained in our colleges and universities. Since it is the natural function of language to correspond to truth, it won’t take too long. If you do this, and you are serious about it, you will be successful as a writer.
More than that, you will help return sanity to a world gone mad.