Context is a wonderful thing. Take that image, for example. Just a random pile of coins that I snatched out of my pocket and slammed down. Now notice how many are upright on the edge. Is that typical? I don’t know because I’d never done it before. It reminded me of the one, single time that I flipped a coin and it landed edge up.
In my experience, all forms of writing are a dance between content and context – between what is being presented (be it fiction or non-fiction) and the environment in which that information exists.
How the reader cheers when the zero becomes the hero, after seeing all their humiliations and failures. But only because the writer has created a context where that final, triumphant breakthrough is recognised as such a change from the norm. If the hero was always heric, we’d get bored very quickly.
In comedy writing, this is misdirection, sending the audience along one train of thought then derailing (pardon the pun) that to end up somewhere entirely different.
In conversation, what is being said will also be considered in the context of who is saying it. When I was in New York, my fellow housemate, Freddie Fresh, was an African American who loved the ‘N’ word. As far as he was concerned, he was the black variety, I was the white variety and everyone was some kind of variety. Pioneering stand-up, Richard Pryor, had an epiphany while visiting Africa and never used the word again. Whereas, outspoken libertarian stand-up, George Carlin, said that the context itself was the issue rather than the word.
In the context of this blog post, you’ll have to make up your own minds.