Wordsmithing and Perspective

People sometimes ask what I mean when I say wordsmithing.
I can’t always think of a good example, but I’ve found one in
“American Canopy” by Eric Rutkow (p.65), an excellent book about the wealth of America that came from indigenous forests.


Speaking of backwoodsmen and frontier hunters, Rutkow observes a change in how they were depicted. “They were no longer the antisocial vagrants of Cr√®vecoeur,
but the embodiment of resourcefulness and bravery, an American original.”

Without factual change, the backwoodsmen have morphed from antisocial vagrants to embodiments of resourcefulness and bravery.

The fact is they remain backwoodsmen or frontier hunters, but wordsmithing converts them from vagrants to heroes or visa versa–shifting the reader’s perception by his descriptive word choice, not by a change in facts.

Different Perspectives

Wordsmithing itself is neutral, but it can be used to warp one’ perspective.

Pietro Aretino, the patron saint (or devil) of wordsmithing. He excoriated his patron's rivals.
Pietro Aretino, the patron saint (or devil) of wordsmithing. He excoriated his patron’s rivals.

It’s not a long leap from hearing a single wordsmith perspective again and again to being unable to imagine another perspective. For instance, a person stops being thought of as a backwoodman but as an antisocial vagrant. With incessant exposure, the perspective takes on the character of fact, obscuring the raw fact by its interpretation.

That curls the straightness of one’s thoughts.

More: Free Speech, Fake News, and Mindset
This Pen for Hire

Pietro Aretino by Titian. From public domain and Wikimedia Commons

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