“The moving hand has writ and moving on…” The Rubiat of Omar Kyam

An article  I recently read in The Star-ledger newspaper stated that children are no longer required to learn “cursive” writing. Some educators believe that handwriting, especially the cursive type, will become obsolete given that we use electronic devices these days from taking notes to writing books. I think that this is a terrible turn of events in the cultural history of the human race. Writing by taking a pen to paper is what has distinguished us from other species for millennium. Not only that but the beauty of a handwritten alphabet cannot be surpassed by sterile marks on a printed page. If you don’t think writing is beautiful (maybe because like me yours is “chicken scrawl”) do some research on the cursive scripts of Arabia, Persia, Miramar. Or the character based Chinese and Japanese ones. Yes, they now can be computer generated but there is something in script written by hand that produces a unique beauty. Top of the line is the illustrated manuscripts of the middle ages, their beauty is breathtaking. And even now, in the 21st century, some cultures still revere words written by hand: the sacred Torahs of Judaism are lovingly recreated, letter by letter by hand!

It’s that infusion of the human spirit in the creation of writing that sets it apart from a personal laser or digital press printing. Someone took a thought, and from brain it traveled through the hand through the writing instrument, until it left its mark on the paper.

A year ago a friend of mine lost her husband of 60 years. Recently she talked to me about all the cards and notes she had received after his funeral. How rereading them was such a comfort to her. All in the distinctive handwriting of the sender. A little bit of that person was embedded in that card and will live on as long as the paper has substance. She also talked about coming across some of his notes and lists and how seeing his script brought tears to her eyes. Indeed, after 9/11 one consistent comment was how the notes, lists, and journals that those who had passed away had written by hand gave such great solace to the loved ones reading them.

The following is a quote from an essay I wrote weeks after 9/11: “For it is in the reading and re reading of a writing that the deeper meanings slowly bubble to the surface. And I will hope that all those grieving will read and reread all the letters, and lists, and writings that their loved ones had left behind. For it is in …both the banal and sublime, that the ultimate meaning becomes clear: I loved you enough to put words to paper. I left a little part of myself for you to hold in the dark of night.” Where do you stand on the importance of “handwriting”? Let me know.

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