Friday, August 08, 2008

Generalizations, Specifics, and Spirit of Words

I have a very odd background in academics. I thrived in mathematics while being horrible in all things science. I'm incredibly gifted with words and communicating while being horrific with grammar.

While writing and commenting in the blogosphere, I've found myself constantly ending up in the circles of Engineers. This is ok, because engineers and I have much in common. The number one being that I'm an engineer, too.

However, I'm not your typical engineer. I'm good at communicating with people who aren't engineers. I don't need my words to be as precise and locked down as an engineer needs numbers and logic to be exact to the most miniscule detail.

I spent half a semester of college taking nothing but English courses. I did incredibly well in English in High school, especially when it came to literary criticism. I am incredibly good at seeing details in light of the big picture (one of the things that distinguishes me as an engineer, because I'm really not that good at writing code). I can easily look an entire picture and then focus in on one detail while keeping in focus the entire picture. This isn't exactly a common trait. Its why I'm so good at Calculus - I'm spatial, visual, AND able to think in the abstract; Geometry, meet Algebra.

So, when I write, I tend to not be as - what would you say? - exact with my words. Yes, prejudices may creep up into my writing. But more often than not, an engineer needs to apply a bit of grace to my words. I'm not above using traditional literary means to communicate my message as succintly as possible. I'm not going to place a "/Woman" to every "Man" I write. I'm not going to always write "with exceptions" or "in general" when writing about generalizations. I will not always clarify that I'm stereotyping just to avoid offending someone.

I'm not as meticulous in that way as some are. Like an artist, my goal isn't to accurately depict how something looks to the observer's eye, but to capture the spirit of my subject.

Yes, there are times when I will be cool, methodical, exact, and completely logical. But that will not happen every time I take pen to paper. I do not write to be logical. I write to communicate. And sometimes, communication requires logic. Other times, it requires words used in such a way that it conveys the feelings that are not tied to logic.

If there is EVER a phrase that sounds as if I am over-generalizing, stereotyping, male-bashing, female-bashing, please feel free to let me know, but keep in mind that there is more to my words than may meet your eye and I would appreciate a bit of grace being extended to me in your critique of my word use.

In other words, don't assume the worst from me.

No comments: