10 Jul

MacBooks and iPads won. We losing the Art of Beautiful Handwriting. Despite one of the most popular giveaways at tradeshows still being pens, flash drives are eclipsing pens as swag.

Decades ago, bar mitzvah boys announced at their celebratory dinner “today I am a fountain pen.” Serious. My brother did just that.

Fountain pens are going the way of the quill pen and an endearment scrawled in the sand. Mitt Romney chose a huge heart as big as his love for Ann. Mitt wrote “I love you” in the middle of a sand drawn heart, way back in the days of pens and pencils and $300 Montblanc pens. I recall being enchanted by stories of birch bark being used by Indians to write messages on. I would craft a teeny birch bark canoe then scratch a message on the boat side before launching it down the “crick” deep in the ravine we played in.

Handwriting is an art. It has been lost. Even I find moments and days my “gton” in “Washington” scrawl together in an unrecognizable scritch even I cant recognize. Readable printing or cursive handwriting are no longer a requirement in school curriculum. Trayvon Martin’s 19 year old friend not being able to read or write cursive got lost in the drama of a trial over zealous people with MacBooks and iPads are using to push a post trial verdict riot. Cursive can connect the dots- character and accomplishment and challenges to overcome. Cursive can connect to success.

Illiteracy has not been wiped out as politics and media promote. Trayvon’s friend is a product of Teachers not teaching a historic craft and a culture that creates its own lingo like cracka. “X” not only marked the spot where pirate treasures were buried. “X” was used by illiterates to sign on to legal documents. Writing was an art utilized by the wealthy. Merchants who could sign put their name to the paper. The masses were taught writing by the churches, in bibles and in schools that evolved from Sunday School teachings. Illiteracy will only get worse with text abbreviations replacing complete words, LOL.

Flash mob, my foot, is not an innovation of modern technology. One click of a tablet button may drive together a flash mob of illiterates looking for a brainless moment that took days of a historic horseback ride for Paul Revere to sound the alarm for.

I have taken my stance. My favorite note pad cover is decorated with a pencil and eraser and the phrase “There Isn’t An App For That.” There isnt. Each push and pull of the pencil if slowed to a momentum of curves is gorgeous in the making. It is thought. It is pause. It is beauty in the making, a challenge bringing together mind, memory, hand and eye in the skill of words I choose to remember. I am after all the author of a book on Scribal Arts, Hebraic, letters within which lives lessons of life. I write an “A”, I see a world I used to lose myself in. Anyone know what a Rapidograph is? A Triple 000 nib. An inwell? I do.

My 7th grade teacher, Mr. Fenn, a man from Wales, taught our class to write with fountain pens. We were encouraged to practice. Good letters, good handwriting were doors to open futures with. That said, the con man who collected pens of all types, may have owned fancy pens. What he lacked was the bravado to write beauty with. What he didn’t realize that people remember what they write down. Once he sent off the damning email, he forgot all about it. The handnotes he penned stood as reminders of his con-in-planning. That is the thing about handwriting. Unlike the skills of listening and speaking, letters stick around as memories- good and bad.

I recall being twisted in to my desk to break my of my habit of writing backhand. To this day, my “4’s” look like “21” and my “7’s”? We wont even go there. And I remember my gift I have to this day, from JP Magnier. I sent a photo of his horse at Cheltenham, its last ride. It tossed its shoe missing me by micro inches. So I sent him a print capturing history. And what I got in return is a pen…. A reminder that iPads and MacBooks may replicate letters of all types of styles and fonts but they will never give me peace that comes with pencil on paper or pen in a notecard or love letters to treasure….. there isn’t an APP for that… but if time was taken to take students back to basics, to teach the Arts of Beautiful writing, some may discover they have an App, an aptitude for that…



  1. Miryam Shabak July 11, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

    Beautifully said, my friend. Hope you’re feeling better.

    • THE-REPORT-CARD July 11, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

      Thank you, Mara. I am feeling like a dog wearing a cone around its neck being told to ‘sit Ubu sit.’ I counted out 90 days. SEPTEMBER…. oh my

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: