Where does the writing go?

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By FLÁVIO R. KOTHE*
The text will reproduce existing errors and will not think beyond what was thought even two years before

To publish is to expose oneself, to expose one's interiority in public, leaving the reader to do what he or she wants with the text. It can be a meeting full of understanding and affection as well as violence and malediction. The text needs to know how to defend itself, because as soon as it jumped into the streets it ceased to be under paternal or maternal protection. Therefore, parents need to raise their children carefully, making them strong and able to take care of themselves.

To revise his own text, the author needs to leave it for a few days to come back like a reader stunned by what he finds in front of him. While writing, the author has his eyes fixed on the horizon where he is heading and sometimes I do not pay attention to the details of what is close by; when he comes back as a reader of himself, he starts to see how many slips he made throughout the writing, how many points he failed to repair and develop. The text starts to look at the author as if he were an autonomous subject, who keeps dictating where he wants to go, what should be done with him. This was already in him when he was gestating in the author's unconscious.

When you go to a clinical office and wait to be called, you don't see anyone else reading a book. Even magazines full of photos were given up. Each one has a cell phone in his hand, as if it were a new member that appeared in humans with the evolution or involution of the species. Writers try to react, writing short texts – short stories, joke-poems, haikus, brief comments – to be read by the educated public in a hurry; nothing, however, that requires reading time and/or concentration. There is a contrary movement, in which the model of knowledge is not the brief information of Wikipedia: long novels, dense hermetic poems, genres in which narrative and reflection are mixed.

A few months ago ChatGPT appeared, which should be followed by other platforms with new versions every few months. You can already ask him for a text on any topic and, in less than a minute, a well-written speech appears, with head and foot, good argumentation, which the program extracted from the existing information in many files and combined it in its own way. and quirky. You can ask him to change the style, make the text thicker or wider. Perhaps in the future, the editor of a magazine will be able to ask the program for a text according to the profile of each of the collaborators and, thus, in a few minutes, he will have the file for the next issue. The text will reproduce existing errors and will not think beyond what was thought even two years earlier.

It is not known exactly what will happen in this context. Where today you need assistance via cell phone, you are already talking to machines and, if you don't obey what they say, you won't go any further. Is it possible to replace the average copywriter with a program or a platform? In chess, there are programs that are already playing better than the best chess players. The task of the writer of the future already begins where the capacity of the machine ends.

Then nationality and language will no longer matter. Translation programs have already improved so much in recent years that the equivalent text in another language is almost simultaneously available. Before, translations to and from English were better. Now, the subject can write in Polish and ask for a Portuguese and German version which will soon have something very understandable and corresponding.

It is known that Brazilian schools do not prepare students well. Anyone can fill pages and pages with the titles of great works they didn't have to read or probably even hear in school. The international vision cannot be overcome with an absolute emphasis on the local.

It's hard to write easy. One bestseller it has the necessary qualities to, at a certain time and place, become one of the most read books. This means making major concessions at the level of the purchasing public, which generally prevents transcendence to other times and places. If it's difficult to write easily, it's easy to keep stalling, to seem wise and wise, which may be nothing more than nonsense and rhyming inconsistencies.

No one becomes a writer just because they want to. You need to have the gift, the training, the effort and the opportunity. There are texts that hold the attention in such a way that the reader can no longer let go of their hand. There are tricks to this, like saying in the first line that Cicrano will be killed in 24 hours. The reader will want to know how this happens, but he will only keep scrolling from page to page if the text has the competence and inner vibrancy that give it the necessary liveliness.

It is not enough for a publicist to believe that he is a poet when he writes funny texts, with some surprises inside, but which are, above all, banal. It is not enough for the would-be poet to assume that poetry is ambiguity and contradiction, in order to give himself the right to fill pages and pages with logical absurdities, imagetic inconsistencies, megalomanias and anthropocentrisms. Aristotle already said that a treatise on agriculture set in rhyme is not poetry.

Writing literature is, among us, a difficult task, generally not paid or respected. Each one would like to write the best text, but he can only do what is within the limits of his possibilities, in general smaller than he himself would like. However, if the text exceeds the limits of the reader's horizon, it will not be validated either.

Printed newspapers have lost audience, while digital ones are increasing in number of editors and readers. The screen does not, however, allow a long and dense text to be read well. Its model is Wikipedia: short, informative text with images. As if it were a comic from a comic book. There is a structural limit there, which makes chipped minds increasingly narrow.

A mind trained in this model will be unable to make distant and dense associations, innovative and perceptive reflections. In an era where writing is more necessary than ChatsGPTT can propose, it is more difficult for the media school system to meet what is demanded. What is banal for some may be new for others: in this gap, many find space for coexistence, but programs that assemble texts can also enjoy themselves.

There is no point in prohibiting its use. They are already there and will take up more and more space. Writers will have to be even more inventive, have even better training and more information. In all areas of knowledge, there will be a tendency for the average professional to be replaced by the machine. Each one will have to learn to use it to become better, more competent.

The public is having to learn to decipher what they are fake news, how they work lawfare and obsessive minds. This means knowing how to read between the lines, in the white space between them, in the silence that is more meaningful than speech. Finally, it ends up becoming more important in the text exactly the unspoken word.

The freedom inherent to creativity will have to be redefined, because, if the machine manages to make millions of combinations per second with a database broader than any human mind, what seems new may just be an unusual and unforeseen combination. Freedom will be replaced by the unforeseen. Genius can see what ordinary people cannot, but later it can be seen that what he proposed was predictable and no one else.

Those with a gift can set the right tone amidst many wrong ones. Genius finds seemingly simple solutions to complex problems. There are texts that linger in our minds, even years after they were read. It is necessary to learn to distinguish what is genuine talent and what was just a school imposition. We always have to relearn. As old Gaudério said on his deathbed, when he saw his grandson bringing, due to the lack of a candle, an ember on a plate: “dying and learning”.

* Flavio R. Kothe is a retired full professor of aesthetics at the University of Brasília (UnB). Author, among other books, of Benjamin and Adorno: clashes (Attica).

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