The immortality of science writing

As I parse through A Field Guide for Science Writers on my Kindle cloud reader, I recognize how science writing is a craft that takes decades to hone. I also begin to hypothesize that, no matter what you write, there are always ways to improve it. In describing how writing differs from other activities, I draw an analogy between writing and immortality. The immortality shows when others are able to read our writing and understand what we wrote at moments later in time. If scribbles in sands are thoughts that succumb to waves, then the etches in concrete are the writing. In this sense, writing has a way to transcend the moment and become something captured at other places in space and time. 

I draw upon philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s will to life, the way we avoid death and its fears. We can extend this to become a will to immortality. We seek immortality in what they do to overcome the fear and implications of death. We do this through culture, especially the nineteenth-century German culture Nietzsche observed in particular. Professor of Political Science Richard Avramenko wrote, immortality lets us understand the unknowable. In a way, we may know death to pacify it. Avramaneko draws upon Nietzsche’s writing of the fear of death and the unknown that underlie this will to immortality. I believe writing captures this immortality as we produce language free from our mortal selves. The immortality of writing comes through arguing and creating knowledge. 

Writing may also share properties with special relativity of physics. This idea of physics concerns how our notions of space and time themselves become warped at speeds near the speed of light. It’s similar to my previous discussion on trauma fiction. We confront this temporal nature of our own lives and thoughts. They comparison to the eternality we give to writing that we confront truth and ideals. When we write, we immortalize our thoughts through language the same way a painter immortalizes their work through brushes and strokes. This explains how writing captures parts of ourself that we choose to present in a form others may interpret. Writing itself could be the vehicle that proves instrumental in carrying people. 

Writing is, in itself, tied closely to our thoughts. It’s another form of thinking and shaping who we are as human beings as well as understanding all forms of knowledge about the world. For me, I’ve viewed writing as a source of power at least since I fell in love with philosophy in high school. It was almost a necessity for me to capture my thoughts through appropriate rhetoric and language. I still remember clearly my journal entries and writing samples from freshman year of high school. I critiqued the education system around me and the way students approached learning. Though I fell in love with physics as early as my first semester of high school, I envied the power of writers to critique and formulate arguments in any way they willed. It’s possible that my interests were only naive cynicism and youthful rebellion. I lacked the thorough self-awareness that made writing great. I liked to pretend, though, it was courageous intellectualism in the face of adversity. Regardless, it set the stage for me to bring light to the purpose of education and helping other students with research in college. Though it wasn’t until college when I explored my philosophical interest, the fundamentals of my language and rhetoric have been within me. I sought philosophy for the refined precision to communicate and critique these arguments. The way I’m able to draw such a lengthy narrative, going back to a decade ago, is a testament to this immortality of writing.  My reflections on my blogposts from three or four years ago also show this. 

Writing about science I can present scientific research itself as immortal. Presenting a story of science means taking those experiences and voices of scientific research and creating a narrative. Hidden messages and truths become apparent. We immortalize science to discover its meaning and value. Other forms of science writing, such as searching for humanistic values and solutions to ethical dilemmas in the work of scientists illustrate the ever-changing, dynamic nature of science. It’s similar to my writing on physician-literary scholar Rita Charon and my older blogposts. Yet, writing about science, the same way we write about anything else, defies that nature. It immortalizes it in some way. Capturing it in a moment of time, though, we understand its true meaning. We can determine the role of artificial intelligence research in computer technology by examining current research. Science writers can portray the messy, nuanced history of fields like psychiatry to bring to light humanistic issues. My writing experience has wrestled with the immortality I’ve given to issues everyone faces. Through this immortal nature of science writing, we can spread the truth and beauty as they are.

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