Monday 19 May 2014

Is a picture worth a thousand words?

It's often claimed that 'a picture is worth a thousand words'. The exact origin of that phrase is uncertain, but the earliest known usage of a similar phrase (Use a picture. It's worth a thousand words) can be found in a 1911 newspaper article discussing journalism and publicity (Syracuse Post Standard (page 18). March 28, 1911). The meaning would appear to be fairly clear, that a complex idea can be conveyed with a single image, but Barnaby wonders, if that's true, why would anyone bother to write at all? It's so easy, nowadays, to create pictures, on a mobile phone for example, and to share them with the world at the press of a button, that labouring over a novel, or a piece of poetry would seem to be wasted labour. All those hours, agonising over the exact word or phrase to convey a moment, an emotion, an idea, could simply be expunged by a few clicks on your digital camera.

Instead of a hundred thousand word novel, you would simply have a one hundred frame picture strip.

The problem with this approach, it seems to Barnaby, is that you would only have access to the pictures that the author/photographer supplied, whereas we all know that the best pictures are the ones the reader constructs inside his/her head. Hence the enduring popularity of the radio, newspaper and the printed book.

So, Barnaby has resolved to keep placing one word after another, in order to construct a framework, be it short story, poem, or novel, onto which you, dear reader, may hang your own pictures. To get you started, though, he will continue to include one picture on the cover of each published book. A selection of which are printed below.
You can find information about the books in the pictures at


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