'If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write' declared Martin Luther King. For writing is central to our culture and seen as the vehicle of precision and accuracy. Theories, contracts, treaties all need to be written to be taken seriously. But there is a hidden danger in our reliance on writing, for it can give the illusion of precision and truth. From Wittgenstein to Derrida, philosophers have argued that precise meaning is elusive, as legal disputes over contracts testify. In an internet age, we increasingly use text to communicate, but as many discover it can frequently derail rather than enhance understanding.

Have we mistaken written text for the truth when it is often a reach for control, an attempt to impose your story on others? Are we undermining meaning and diminishing our reality by spending time framing emails and texts when we should be using the fluid potential of speech instead?  Or are we right to be dazzled by the timeless quality of writing and its capacity to change the world?  

Best selling author John Ralston Saul, poet and novelist Ruth Padel, and award-winning author Joanna Kavenna, debate whether the written word has been mistaken for truth.

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