Writing as evocation

Sometimes when people say things to me, I picture their sentences diagrammed on a blackboard, with soft gossamer trails of hidden meaning streaming out beneath, like a bubble wand dipped into solution and dragged across its underbelly.

Once I started thinking of content this way, it felt as though all the points were scattered around me into lines, the sun striking a glass vase at just the right time of day, sending rainbows dancing about the room. We tend to value code, words, and media based on what we can see: the stable item, the cabochon jewel gleaming opaquely in the palm of one's hand. But rotate it, cut it into facets, and hold it up to the light, and a thousand new worlds reveal themselves.

(Nadia Eghbal's Newsletter, June 2019)

Reading creates pictures in our minds. Steven Pinker in Sense of Style calls this something like "conjuring imagery on our mental virtual reality displays".


The thing I like about writing is that it’s quite literally thinking—a way for me access my own interiority and construct something from it. What I write is all mine, it’s a living thing, it’s an extension of me that wanders out into the world. It is desire turned inwards instead of outwards, focused instead of displaced. It’s a way to access self-knowledge and self-respect.