I do like a good waffle. The fine line between writing a complex text with substantive meaning and the ineffectual convolutions of what may rapidly devolve into mere playful word-games is a significant distinction to clarify.
If the written word represents stored semantic or referential energy, then the act of writing is a little like drawing a bow, creating potential energy. The embedded meaning is always only ever potential as stored, structured information and the act of interpretation and translation generates meaning; this effects knowledge as an entity or object of mind. Information remains sterile until actively engaged and it is at that point that knowledge comes into play.
Writing is not always of some object or concept which in any sense pre-exists whole and fully formed but somewhat more as Michelangelo Buonarroti put it: “(…)every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it”; which is to say – the meaning and conceptual sophistication of the text (and the associated thought process) is revealed through the process of composition. We create, craft, sculpt and knead the form of the meaning from the potential of language where it lies dormant, drawing out meanings and relationships from the inherent ambiguities of language and idiom. The meaning and potential knowledge is not necessarily pre-existing in language but is most certainly set free or generated through thoughtful, creative, competent expression.
Another feature of writing is that in the act of putting words into sentences and paragraphs, in aggregating and recombining concepts and various vocabularies, idioms and the like – we are very often producing those thoughts, we are encoding them – generating concrete forms from which further thoughts may (or may not) themselves take flight. The act of writing is, or can be, the creation of the concept and the actual instantiation of an idea in ways in which it may not be able to exist purely in the mind or without some record and external presence and persistent reference.
The value of the complex text, of the convoluted and layered narrative or description, is in the extent to which it evidences and admits the compression of sophisticated thoughts and ideas into smaller sequences of words. Using complex expressions and language allows us to say more with less, however (and ironically) at the cost of increasing internal textual and referential complexity. Limericks and click-bait headlines (for instance) have their place, but the generation and progressive refinement of complex written ideas allows for the cultivation of sophistication of thought. To some extent, we generate our thoughts as we speak or write them and the content of a thought (on a very broad spectrum, for instance – from 140-character Tweets through to Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason) demonstrates intelligence and effective problem-solving at a competency level appropriate to the complexity an author might perceive or understand in the world. Some statements are appropriate as simple constructs designed (for instance) to evoke instinctual emotional response, some (other) statements are appropriate as complex characterisations of complex and multi-layered or otherwise multi-dimensional realities; use what you are comfortable with but try to see the relativity of the relevance of any specific context and its appropriate construct. Learning to write complex statements (which are still intelligible and “sensible”) is a way of training your own mind to comprehend more complex realities. Learning to understand complex texts is, similarly, a way of training and “upskilling” your own mind.
Writing for it’s own sake is not, I suggest, entirely without merit but does require a constant retrospective analysis and open-ended creativity through which to nurture individual and shared conceptual vocabularies.
Fresh waffles with fruit and cream are quite pleasant, too.