Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Thousand Words

A picture is worth a thousand words, they say. They say a lot of things that are bullshit. What does a picture of bullshit say? Not much; it's just an image. Maybe it connotes what it smells like, but what does it do for someone who's never seen a cow? Nothing. It's just a brown blob melting its way into grass. It's possible that it's still worth a thousand words, but those words would be worthless. A picture is worth a thousand words? Bullshit, I say.

A thousand words are worth a thousand words. Nothing more, nothing less. As the word count of these random thoughts approaches four figures, can you think of a picture that could accurately represent them? I doubt it. If anything, you're still thinking of the image of bullshit lying in a field. Which, though the connotation is there, is little more than metaphor in this instance, and has nothing to do with the ultimate meaning behind these random thoughts.

Do authors communicate more clearly than photographers? Of course. Imagine a fax that reads:

-The United States elects its first black President.

Think about it. Eight words. And they say something.

Now imagine a fax that's simply a picture of Barack Obama.

What does it say? It's a picture of a black man in a suit and tie. What good are these thousand words? You'd be as ignorant as you were yesterday... because you just interpreted a thousand useless adjectives. Why do you think the writings of Herodotus are more valuable to archaeologists and anthropologists than the carvings on a vase?

Because they actually say something.

A picture may be a thousand words. Or more. But it probably isn't worth it.


  1. hmmm...intriguing post...i think i would go words any day, but i am never at a loss for them so...

  2. "A thousand words are worth a thousand words. Nothing more, nothing less."
    - Tell that to J.K. Rowling!!!

    I think a picture is worth more than a thousand written words. Words are saying something, but a picture is whatever you want it to be - limitless.

  3. That's a bit harsh! A thousand words might be pushing it but a picture certainly conjours up a few words in its own right. They just don't have to be in narrative

  4. If the writer writes well enough, you can picture the scenario in your minds eye. Then you have both - the written word and a beautiful picture - hand in hand.

  5. I thought you needed both. The words had to look pretty on the page, or you rejected it. Hmmmmmm....... :)


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