Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Handwriting : A Lost Art?

The art of handwriting teaches us to control our hands and encourages hand-eye coordination.... [it]obliges us to compose the phrase mentally before writing it down. Thanks to the resistance of pen and paper, it does make one slow down and think. Many writers, though accustomed to writing on the computer, would sometimes prefer even to impress letters on a clay tablet, just so they could think with greater calm.

Well, we might be writing more and more, but does it matter that we are doing it at the keyboard rather than by hand? Italian author Umberto Eco thinks that it does and his concerns are shared by many.

In the US there has been a great deal of public debate about the issue, here Associated Press writer Tom Breen looks at what is happening in American schools.

And Neil Hallows on the BBC website discovers that :
A century from now, our handwriting may only be legible to experts.
I think handwriting matters too. I write differently when I write by hand. I am more in touch with my feelings. And the feel of a favourite pen flowing over good paper and forming your words is frankly sensuous. What do you think?


Life for Beginners said...

I don't really have a favourite pen, any decent writing instrument would do... but to write in a favourite journal, that helps a lot. It's a form of meditative exercise, no?

And just for a bit of American flavour, given the studies being done, I write on a semi-regular basis a couple of good American friends... old fashion handwritten letters. :)

There's nothing quite like the feeling of getting a fresh letter after a week or two of waiting.

gnute said...

I keep all my handwritten drafts! It really is amazing how the scribbles can act as mental triggers as opposed to a typed text. Sometimes a stroke of the pen/pencil reminds me of what I was thinking or feeling at the time of writing.

Someone I know reckons there is an obsolete term to describe the vibrations contained within handwriting: the odic force. I found a link at Wikipedia about it (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odic_force) but this word has fallen out of modern dictionaries.

GeneGirl said...

I realised the power of handwritten material from your class, Sharon. And up to now, very personal things can only be in the handwritten form...oh I miss your classes...
Am trying to keep to the various write everyday tactics and flounder but am almost done with the 350 word sci fi entry for new scientist. You know how I love the abstract and the absurd!

ArtsVeronica said...

Nice to know that there are others who have felt the difference between handwriting out an idea or letter, Sharon. I swear certain pens, inks and colours bring out the words better. And yeah, it sounds materialistic but I have to agree that quality pens like the Parkers, Crosses and Montblancs, especially the fountain nibs with quality ink, really swish up all your emotion in the strokes and dots. The only setback I find is the weight of these pens, as I am small-wristed and get tired after writing for awhile. I wonder if someone's come up with a version for petite women?

I still make handwritten notes/letters inside cards for friends. It takes a whole day to write out about 10-15 cards in legible cursive (of old convent style) but I find it therapeutic. Also, it's nice to have limited edition stamps and experiment with the paper and envelope, knowing all these always warm the heart of the person finding them in their letter box.

Not always a guaranteed antidote for long-distance relationships, I can tell you from experience. It does take both hands to clap. But that you put in the effort is always worth it.

Awang Goneng said...

I once asked a judge how he wrote his judgments. I write them in longhand and then my secretary types them out, he said. And then what did you do with the handwritten script? I asked. "Oh, I just chuck them into the bin," he said.
Do you realise, I said in my most magisterial voice, that what you threw out into the bin was more valuable than what your secretary typed out? (I shall not name de judge and commit the twin sins of name and judge-dropping; I have now resolved to commit only one sin per note).

When I was asked to sign copies of my book I made sure that I had a certain type of pen in hand, for, as ArtsVeronica has said more eloquently than me [above], from the ink floweth the thought.

Our Sasterawan Negara laureate A Samad Said has a beautiful hand. Not surprisingly, he is making a small fortune from it, selling his calligraphy as works of art.

Shang Lee said...

I wrote this about writing vs typing more than 3 years ago, and i'm surprised that my thoughts haven't changed!

Eliza said...

Am envious of Kenny and his pen pals. Yes, I miss the old-fashioned letter. somehow a long e-mail doesn't quite do the trick.

I love to doodle with pen and paper but for writing itself - I find it much less tiring (physically) to type than to write. It is from years of under-use, I believe, that my handwriting "stamina" has dipped significantly, so much so that my handwriting gets illegible after the 2nd page. Having said that, I still handwrite in my journal and diaries...

ps: have to second GeneGirl and say I miss your classes too!

Mag said...

It's always fun to send random postcards to friends :) I reckon there's an art to writing good postcards! xox

Michelle said...

Glad I'm not alone in thinking that writing has its magic. After years of writing essays for English lessons, my mind has been trained to think at the same speed at which I write.

And yes, feelings definitely flow a lot better when writing the real way. (I avoid saying that it's the old-fashioned way, because I think it's anything but old-fashioned)