Catharsis in Writing

The act of self expression in writing seems to provide relief from strong or long repressed emotions – a catharsis.  Whether anybody reads what you have written or not, to formalise in writing your innermost thoughts, your worldview, your grievances, your joys and your sadness brings an incredible freedom, a sense of deep release.

It seems perhaps that an internal mental expression is not sufficient; a silent inner realisation, however profound, does not provide the same strong cathartic effect as the crafting of the written word, the sentence, the paragraph.

Perhaps it is because we have to take so much care with the written word; do we really mean this or that? Is that really how we feel? Perhaps it is because the use of language is the only thing which makes thought possible above the banal levels we need for bodily survival.  Language forms an integral part of true consciousness it seems: qualia can no doubt be felt without language but how much more poignant and meaningful to be able to define, express, codify and categorise in actual words what it feels like to be sad or joyful, to experience the deep red glow of a sunset.

So I think perhaps language is essential for depth in feelings and written language seems to solidify, to realise the internal emotion.

Does it matter who you are writing for? Perhaps not. Does it matter whether you are read? Perhaps not. It would be unwise indeed to put truly dark thoughts onto paper and into the public domain – but happily I do not have any. Therefore I feel free to write what I choose and to express myself as I see fit.

In an afternoon well spent yesterday with a cerebral and cultured friend, we discussed the ideal life and wondered what we should have done with our lives while we sat in the late spring sunshine, on deck chairs, in a beautiful and quiet garden.

Could we have avoided the hustle and ghastliness of our respective careers in law and finance? The grim, difficult and determined people we had to suffer to earn our daily bread.

He said that to write would have been the way out.  But how few are those blessed with the good fortune of being paid for the endeavour!

Happily later in life you can benefit from the catharsis of writing without having to count on film rights and tea shirt sales.  I may not have the imagination to write of demons but expressing my own seems good enough.  I don’t need the success of Harry Potter to achieve catharsis nor do I desire the riches of Midas.

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