Sex – I don’t get it…
A while back I was browsing through a local bookshop with my younger brother on a Sunday afternoon. He’s an articulate young man. Modest and unknown to him he’s wise with words and very well read up. Something I always admired in him and in people generally growing up. Upon entering this mini library you are immediately embraced by a world of stories and literature. Books of all colours, shapes and sizes align the shelves along the walls from floor to ceiling. Organised by genre and category, bestsellers and special offers sprawled across tables directly in front of you. It’s almost troublesome if you go in with intent, as it’s a tight squeeze when passing by people to the location of your desired book. For me, I like to go in and browse whilst maintaining my comfort zone allowing my mind wander a bit. A local bookshop like this, similar to the one in the movie “You’ve Got Mail”, certainly evokes dreams, unrealistic in my mind at the time, of becoming a writer. I whisper indirectly past his ear whilst looking away “I’m gonna be a writer some day.” However I think he picks up on my dishonest sarcasm responding a bit more seriously, “write about sex. Sex sells. Do that first and then you can write about what you really want once your name is out there”. I indeed smirk but deep down I think my knowledgeable brother has made a smart point. Almost too obvious to be so smart though isn’t it?
This week I’ve spent my time finalising my end of term papers for college. One subject I have focused on is Pragmatics. It’s part of the course in Linguistics I am taking and it’s a subject with a very philosophical approach to language and the understanding of meaning. We learn about how meaning is inferred through language and context. Some friends ask me about it and I explain it in a bit more detail. It’s a complex topic in a difficult field of study that many people of society today might consider a bit useless. Perhaps they don’t see a direct relation between linguistics and money and therefore consider it a waste of time and intelligence. Yet one strong point that continues to prevail in my mind during my studies is how smart language is and how useful it can be the more you understand how it works. With a solid insight into how language and communication work, and I don’t mean foreign languages rather language in general, one can really play with it and manipulate it to their advantage.
In Pragmatics one topic of interest is Linguistic Underdeterminancy, which essentially means there is ambiguity in comprehension and this ambiguity is created by the words themselves i.e. a gap between what is said and understood. The awareness of this can make for a very useful skill in media creating funny and effective headlines as below:
– Prostitutes appeal to the Pope
– Free laboratory animals!
– Submit your cat scans! (see this funny site if you don’t believe me)
All the above can have a different meaning depending on context. It is this diversity of context that allows writers, communicators, journalists etc. to play with language and manipulate it to the extent of their own creativity because we as humans do not rely solely on words to understand meaning.
Anyway, I suppose what I am trying to say here is that writers can lure readers whether with topic as my brother suggested, or with words alone. It’s always important to have a good title because this is the window-shopping point for the reader. The make it or break it moment with them and one difficult to win back if lost. However as I’m only starting off with this writing business I’ll just stick with catchy titles before considering writing about sex. Sorry bro for not taking your advice but the parents are reading! I’ll take a look at my traffic stats in a few days to see if I can prove my own point to myself. Hopefully this ambiguous title works to my advantage. I don’t get what the big deal is about sex in literature. I just don’t get it! And I’m certainly not bothered writing about whether I’m getting it or not. Who wrote Fifty Shades of Grey again? My case in point.