gardening as thinking

gardening is a practice of thinking

Writing is a mode of thinking. It's not merely translating something you have in your brain into something others can read. Rather, the process of writing is itself an act of thinking. And while writing tends to be the privileged mode of communication -- think about our time producing essays in school at whatever level -- there are a multitude of ways to practice how we communicate our thinking. This is one reason artists are not all writers -- there are other forms of communication; other ways to think.

I've written about something like this elsewhere:

Spelling and grammar standardization software renders effective communication and correct grammar coterminous, (re)producing a monolithic syntax by which all our expression is judged. How we articulate or perform ourselves online makes explicit the anxiety we experience IRL, attempting to present whatever “self” we imagine desirable...Traversing a multitude of networks with varied social and linguistic expectations — email, Facebook, text, Twitter — amplifies the impetus for “appropriate,” site-specific communication. [Standardization software] grounds us in a particular context by standardizing our performances, assuring us we can be rendered legible so long as we take a particular, circumscribed form.

While I was writing about the particularly noxious effects of standardization software (beautification apps, assistive writing software), I'm also making a point about writing as a privileged form of communication and how that privilege makes (im)possible legibility and meaning. When we treat writing or language as a conduit for meaning, rather than the invitation to make meaning, we stymie the potentials for communicating otherwise -- trapping ourselves within the limits of specific forms. When what and how we write does not adhere to pre-established forms, it risks dismissal -- it risks being illegible or meaningless. This isn't to say that it is illegible or meaningless, but rather that it doesn't easily slot into pre-existing apparatuses through which meaning is produced.

Maybe this has been spelled out, but I'm thinking about how form limits thought. What might alternative forms of writing open in terms of alternative forms of thinking? What I'm wondering (and I'm not actually wondering this, I'm posing it as a soft argument) is how we might benefit from alternative forms of writing that lie not just outside the blog post as a genre, but outside the linear and teleological information/argument we tend to associate with the genre. What I'm trying to think through

The task is not the obliteration of form but the proliferation of form. My conjecture is lowering the barrier to entry for alternative forms of writing -- here I'm thinking about the multimodality offered by digital writing as well as the literal form or layout of digital writing -- might also proliferate more ways of thinking or amplify ideas and practices that do not circulate as often because of the forms we've come to expect (which I mean as both a kind of preconception as well as an expectation [or judgement]). Proliferation requires access, so the question becomes how we lower the barrier to entry for exploring new forms of writing and thinking online. Gardening is one way to answer.