In the age of technology, the art of handwriting is becoming increasingly rare. Gone are the days when we would sit down and put pen to paper, diligently crafting each letter and word.
We now turn to digital platforms for communication, losing the personal touch that handwriting brings.
The beauty and uniqueness of each person’s handwriting can reveal a lot about their character, their style, and their mindset.
In Fleur Jaeggy’s 1989 novella “Sweet Days of Discipline,” the narrator, a 14-year-old girl, becomes fascinated with the handwriting of a new classmate, Frédérique.
Handwriting serves as a façade, a way of establishing one’s identity and personality. Each person’s handwriting is a subtle indicator of who they are, with every curve, angle, and flourish providing a glimpse into their soul.
Handwriting is a form of self-expression, a means of showcasing our individuality and our personal insignia.
Letter writing has long been a significant part of Western culture. From the love letters of Abelard and Heloise to the philosophical musings of Seneca and the creative guidance of Rainer Maria Rilke, letters have captured the essence of human emotion, thought, and relationships.
They serve as powerful time capsules and snapshots of our lives, preserving our past selves and the people who have shaped our existence.
The Power of Letters
Love letters, in particular, hold a special place in the genre. They reveal the depths of human relationships, the vulnerability of emotions, and the universality of love.
Famous love letters, such as those exchanged between Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz, or Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf, showcase deep emotions and leave a lasting impact on the reader.
Letters as a Form of Self-Expression
For women, letter writing has been a means of self-expression and communication without the need to identify as “writers.”
This “kitchen-table” approach to writing has allowed women to create from within their lives, surrounded by domestic responsibilities.
It has resulted in a radical form of writing that brings visibility to the daily realities of women’s lives. Writers like Gwen Harwood and Margaret Oliphant embraced interruptions and distractions as a natural part of the creative process, challenging the notion that an entirely uninterrupted space for writing is necessary.
The Loss of Tangibility
As digital communication replaces traditional letter writing, we risk losing the spontaneity and physical connection that handwritten letters offer.
Emails and text messages lack the tangible presence of the human hand on paper, the weight of the ink, and the texture of the paper.
Link to the rest at Culture.org
PG attempted but failed to recall the last time he had written a letter with his terrible penmanship. He’s signed his name under a short message on greeting cards and has scratched down the odd note for himself, but he is 99.99% a keyboardist for written communications.
Writing by hand seems so very, very slow and, being out of practice, PG has to cross out words that nobody could read and rewrite them even more slowly, which takes away whatever spontaneity and elegance a hand-written note from him might otherwise communicate.
As for tangibility, if visitors to TPV could have a glimpse of the top of PG’s desk, they would see tangibility, piles and piles of tangibility including tangles of computer cables, various and sundry printouts about subjects like Form 941E and Property Condition Disclosures, pages headed, “If You Have Questions” and a user’s manual for a pocket camera PG can’t seem to locate.
Oh, there’s also an old heirloomish silver teapot with an accompanying silver cream pitcher that recently turned up while PG was cleaning out a closet and a silver tweezery device to grasp sugar cubes and drop them into your non-silver tea cup should the need arise.
That’s max tangibility.
(In the 21st Century, does anybody actually use a silver teapot more than twice in their lifetime? How about if they don’t have a live-in maid/butler to polish silver in her/his/their spare time?)