Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Blogging on the Cuff - Old School

In an age where cursive writing is a lost art, most people prefer to print - if they are forced to write at all. But people today usually do so with an uneasy mixture of upper and lowercase letters, with little or no regard for the arcane concerns of punctuation or grammar.

These days, public school children get little or no instruction in cursive writing. They are trained to compose directly on the computer and edit as they go. I guess that's progress.

But for me, I find that a fragmented way to write though I suppose it is a more efficient and synergistic way to work. I prefer working my ideas out with pen and paper first. It is more tactile and flowing for me and lends itself to improvisational thinking. Once I get an idea of what I want to write and how I want to present it, the physical act of writing slows me down enough to get my ideas worked out on paper; then, I go to the computer to take advantage of its time saving editing and proofreading features.

I marvel at how the ancients wrote. The Egyptians used papyrus and paint; the Greeks used vellum and scrolls; the Romans used wax tablets and a stylus, while the Medieval monks used paper and ink. Shakespeare did marvelous work with ink and a sharpened goose quill. Even the mechanical striking of the old fashioned typewriter keys seems antiquated compared to the muted tapping of a modern keyboard. The immutable law of nature is that everything changes and for everything gained, something is lost.

That brings me to the M.C. Escher engraving, Drawing Hands, sketched in 1948. It has always fascinated me, but now, in this brave new world of electronic publishing and computer animation, it has gained new meaning for me. This lithograph typifies the artist's mad dash at creation and shows what can be accomplished with paper and ink when talent and imagination is applied.

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