Jack of Many Trades

R is for Recording

Originally posted: 2013-08-31

You know, after two weeks of Q, I was not expecting R to be the difficult one. I had no problem thinking of R words, but finding one that I cared enough to write about was surprisingly hard. (Tragically, neither "ennui" nor "my accounting homework" start with R.)

The art of recording what you're told - taking dictation - has a long and storied history in religion. Moses, Mohammed and Joseph Smith all did it at one point or another. It seems simple enough, doesn't it? Just take what you're told and write it all down.

I've been listening to Jack Spicer's Vancouver lectures lately on my way to and from work. I was particularly caught up by his first lecture, on poetic dictation. Spicer was of the belief that the most worthwhile and true poetry came from outside of the writer. He referred to his source as Martians, but I suspect the source itself was not as important as the poetry in his mind.

When I talk about taking dictation in the context of Theos Logos, I'm not talking about a god rattling off advice or instructions. I'm talking about the process of hearing, and telling, someone's story. That might be someone in the past, in another world, or a god. Whoever it is, they are trusting you with their stories.

To my mind, this is a sacred responsibility. It is as if I have been given a beautiful, raw stone. The stone's owner expects me to cut and polish it, to find the flawless gem inside. This is no simple act of scribbling down shorthand. The art of writing is my own, the word choices, the arcs of the characters, the themes and metaphors. If I am lucky, I take the raw facts and polish them into something true.

It is still very much an art, even if I am not doing the worldbuilding myself. It is still the process of creation, which is sacred because it is godlike.