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Holding Hands Across Time and Space

Posted by Dirck on 11 October, 2012

I’ve linked in the past to stories about the end of handwriting, but I can’t quite remember if I’ve linked to one suggesting reasons why this a foolish development.  Well, let’s fix that, and then I’ll sit here rambling to myself while you’re all off reading it.

The reason I’m fairly confident I’m now speaking to an empty auditorium is that the article is both long and well written.  The central point of it, if I may make bold, is much the same as my own boosting of fountain pens as a better means writing than other sorts of pen.  Writing, in the cursive mode, offers the reader a more direct sense of the person doing the writing than labouring along in block letters, and infinitely more than a load of automatically-formatted razor-sharp text emitted by a modern word-generating engine.

…and given that I quite agree with this, it’s a good thing none of the usual readers are here right now, because it’s an open admission that however much I share here, however unveiled my references to location and acquaintances, I am not known to you to the degree I would be if this were all written out longhand.  I’m hiding behind the technology!

I’m willing, in fact, to go so far as to say that even if I did lay this all out longhand (which, if I were aiming for legibility, would take about thrice as long), scan it, and post the image, it would still not offer quite the insight that mailing someone the original would.  I think I’m still in accord with today’s article in saying that the handwritten artifact, with its manifold little clues that forensic science would exaggerate but which still make an impression at the very threshold of consciousness to the casual reader, gives the reader something just short of direct contact with the writer.  The neat thing about this nearly-direct contact is that it can take place without reference to distance nor (with a nod to the arrow of causality) time.  This week I have, in a rough sense, held hands with a correspondent who at the very time I did so was sitting comfortably at home in Singapore, something that would otherwise call for uncomfortably long arms.  Recently, I did much the same with my grandparents as they recorded my mother’s birth, and that’s a corner around which it is hard to make your actual elbow bend.

Other reasons I’m glad the room ended up empty is that I’m pretty sure I’ve expanded upon this theme in a previous installment, and that the mention of correspondents distant only in space embarrasses me in the dimension of time; something I thought I would get in the mail about a month ago remains not… quite… ready.  Oh dear.

Today’s pen: Waterman Hémisphère
Today’s ink: Pelikan Violet

8 Responses to “Holding Hands Across Time and Space”

  1. Andrew said

    I read the rest of it 😉

    and am about to read that article you linked to.

  2. Tim said

    Thank you for your thoughtful and indeed thought provoking missive and link (I’ve put Hensher’s book on my to get list), as usual it struck a chord with me.


  3. […] bore some interesting fruit.  One of the points in favour of handwriting, which I go into somewhat last month, is that it puts the reader in almost direct contact with the writer, a brushing of fingertips at […]

  4. […] I’ve had little contemplations of the future of the skill, sometimes dark, sometimes tinted with optimism.  Recently I ran across another article on which repeats the “keep that, it’s more […]

  5. […] me is that, in very short form, they repeated some of my (admittedly non-original) contemplation of the connection possible between writer and reader.  It’s not a big deal, but as I sat on the edge of a yawning abyss […]

  6. […] much upset to friends, family and passers-by) to preserve the art of handwriting.  I referred in an earlier entry here to this part of his book, excerpted and now removed from the site that was showing it; his […]

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