The article seems to implicitly define “composing” as “word-based” communication (I guess) (15). I didn’t see a sentence in the article that defined the word (if this was actually defined in the article, I totally missed it), so I referred to the first couple paragraphs because that’s where the article first talks about composing. In regards to “the primacy of language” the article seems to be playing the devil’s advocate. It first says that “compositionists seem to hold views of language so deeply that we take for granted its place on the top wrung of the meaning-making ladder” acknowledging the fact that “compositionists” attribute meaning to the ability to put something into words (17). It also mentions the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which states that language shapes society as society simultaneously shapes language (17). I think that there are some things that can be described or communicated pretty accurately with language, but that may not always be the case. Language definitely has its place in most aspects of communication; I start all of my projects for this class by writing my ideas down onto a word document and then outlining the project. But I think people sometimes give language a little too much credit.
I took AP Psychology during my senior year of high school, and I learned that when we see something and remember it, as we put that memory into words – verbalize it – the memory’s accuracy fades. I don’t know why this happens, but it does. And it’s pretty cool. Words don’t always do images justice. This leads me to believe that people can know things – things they have seen, for example – without being able to put them into words.
I think that in a world of perfect communication, there would be no language. And in an alternate universe, where communication is absolutely impossible, there would still be no language. The first scenario describes perfect telepathy (no need for words – we can perfectly communicate ideas via mind-reading!) and the second describes absolute isolation (still no words because the ability to communicate just doesn’t exist). Each scenario is one extreme end of the spectrum, and here, in the real world, we inhabit some gray area. We often confuse writing with knowing, but we live in that gray area, so I don’t think we can always truly know – or even know when we know.
For the purposes of our class, it seems that the word “compose” means to make an external representation of (or to communicate) an idea. We do it with words and images in the forms of writing, speaking, photographs, and videos.
I can paraphrase the pages in my biology text book that describe the process of meiosis, but that doesn’t mean I know meiosis. I know the words that describe what’s happening, but I didn’t watch meiosis – I didn’t experience it. So do I really know it? Does knowing require, not only the ability to communicate an idea via language, but the experience too? But do we get everything out of an experience? What if we don’t have sufficient background knowledge or we miss something that requires an outside perspective? Is verbal communication of the outside perspective sufficient or accurate enough?