Monday, April 4, 2011

Law 4: Hope is not Simplistic

Making Monday

The fourth Law of Making, the first of the second trinity that are collectively called the Laws of Living, is, "True making is an expression of hope."

Hope is a funny word because most of use it so casually: I hope it doesn't rain; I hope this ends soon; I hope I win the lottery.

Our causal use of hope extends to the grammatically dubious, "hopefully," Most people take the sentence, "Hopefully he'll come," as a synonym for, "I hope he comes."* This is a problem (admittedly only for people who pay attention to grammar) because hopefully is perfectly good adverb that means in a hopeful manner. But very few of us care, or need to specify, that he will come in a hopeful manner.

I mention this casual usage because it is entirely unrelated to the hope of the makers.

The cliché question about whether the glass is half-full or half-empty sums up, in a trivial way, a basic existential question: is the universe fundamentally driven by hope or despair?

By virtue of their making, Makers come down on the side of hope. Taking the time and energy to create a new thing expresses a belief, or at least an assumption, that the investment will return dividends in the future.

Think of the effort required to produce a novel. Why invest thousands of hours in the words if you have no hope that your world, somehow, will be better for it? Put another way, if you truly believe everything is meaningless and will come to naught, you're better off investing your time in some quality TV-watching: it, at least, is guaranteed to leave you comfortably numb.

Some people say they write because they must.

And what, at the deepest level, drives them to write?


The hope of the makers is not simplistic. It is not the casual, wouldn't-it-be-nice-if, hope we toss off without a second thought. Rather, makers resonate with a deep and abiding hope that the striving, the effort, the frustration, and the doubt are, in fact, worth it.

* Those who argue that hopefully should be allowed as a sentence adverb, by analogy with mercifully, would say that it is a general predictive and could be rendered, "It is to be hoped." Be that as it may, I've often heard people in casual conversation use hopefully in place of the personal declarative, "I hope ..."

Image: Bill Longshaw /

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