Saturday, May 14, 2016

Dictation & Writing

Does anyone remember Yak Baks?

You can Wikipedia and Google News it all you want, but the simplest way to put it is it's a toy that records and plays back so many seconds of everything you say. Where this isn't necessarily about Yak Baks the idea's always been relevant to me because I think a lot of my writing is dictated. I think a lot of this was said to myself before I wrote it down, and I think that's how a lot of my writing is. 

In an essay The Death of the Author by Roland Barthes,' he says "writing is the destruction of every voice, every origin."

This essay along with many others from The Rustle of Language is where I got the idea of using dictation to write. Ever since, I've always been interested in writers that use dictation.

In Transcriptionist Amy Rowland's essay Dictating a Masterpiece Rowland delves into the history of dictation, beginning with new software used to do it, "More and more writers are using voice recognition software, which is constantly improving and even has an app for the iPhone."

More recently in another article Melissa Broder is noted for dictating her entire essay collection So Sad Today into her iPhone. In the article mentioned before that Rowland says before such innovations came to be other writers like Fyodor Dostoevksy and John Milton dictated some of their most seminal works to their own personal stenographers. 

In an article I found on a dialogue Plato wrote titled Phaedrus the author says, "Socrates makes a case against writing by saying that the words themselves are not a complete representation of knowledge, but rather words are to knowledge as pictures are to their subjects."

Plato, in a way was used by Socrates as a stenographer, because he wrote down everything Socrates said, even though he didn't mean to make him do this. Plato just thought everything Socrates said should be written down and Socrates hated writing.

This is what makes Plato the Yak Bak of Socrates, and Socrates couldn't have cared less because he didn't care about writing. I'm this way with not only myself, but my friends. If I haven't said anything interesting all day on Twitter, I'll listen to other people for something interesting to post, making me the stenographer/Plato to my friends who are the writer/Socrates to my writing. 

"Writing is that neuter, that composite, that obliquity into which our subject flees, the black-and-white where all identity is lost, beginning with the very identity of the body that writes."(Barthes)

The process of finding the tools you need to write; the laptop/the website you're gonna open windows up to as soon as the lid is lifted/the pens/the pencils/the notebook/paper/scraps of paper, this is exactly what devices like the Yak Bak/stenographer eliminate. None of these sentences are being written the way they were originally said, because of everything I had to do to get this laptop open to blogspot. Too many modifications to these sentences were made within that frame of time that wouldn't have had to be if I only had a Yak Bak, or something like a stenographer.

Luckily I have myself. I'm my own Yak Bak, stenographer, or iPhone, because I just write down everything I say