Books, magazines, and pens

February 17, 2009 § 9 Comments

“Read THE GOLDEN KEY,” said someone at the water cooler today. It’s an 1800s fairy tale, and surprisingly good. I don’t know the author and didn’t ask, but it came from a readaholic source, so there is likely something to it. 

In the current NEWSWEEK magazine dated Feb 23, 2009, (it’s Snarl’s but for some reason, comes to the house rather than going to his dorm. So I just kinda graze through it.) on page 44, there is a one-page article on  The Curse of Cursive by Jessica Bennett. While I find her arguments against cursive writing to be squashable and due primarily to the fact that she had so much trouble forming the letter “Q” in first grade (which I understand and with which I empathize), her anti-cursive diatribe is fortunately humorous because her arguments against the “loops and swirls” are weak. She has not a dotted “i” to stand on.
But funny wins the day at the end of the day and she manages some humor. 

However, Bennett comments during her essay that “by the 1890s, even Henry James dictated his novels to a secretary.”  Hmmm… well, we don’t know if it’s because his handwriting was awful OR because he didn’t enjoy writing in longhand OR if he had an injury OR if he maybe had a thing for the secretary and could thus keep her occupied and near him by dictating his words. I am always suspicious of facts plucked from Here and thrown into There to make a point. But, mention a writer and his or her habits, and you have my full attention.

Bennett’s last lines, following some of her anecdotal humor, are perhaps her best:  “So if loops and swirls make you feel better, be my guest. In fact, go buy a fountain pen. The economy needs all the help it can get.”

True enough, I suppose. Although I won’t have my precious pens slighted, nor thought merely precious.
I love my G2s; my freebies from Microsoft; my Tiffany slim silver pen that’s kept in all its royal velvet for doing hand-written notes only; my purple pens that write blue, a whole box of them given to me by a pharmaceutical rep three years ago; my straight blue stick BIC pens which my Dad always used, too; and then, the “tramp” pen, the one I find suddenly somewhere in the house, long forgotten, but it just happens to write beautifully.

As for cursive, to write cursively or not to write cursively, I laugh at how my own longhand has degenerated and take singular joy in NOT using the Palmer method anymore having adapted a blithe scrawl.


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§ 9 Responses to Books, magazines, and pens

  • laylou says:

    Cursive, eh? There is something I rarely use. I’m not sure if it’s because I write faster in a melange of print/cursive or if it’s because I don’t even remember how to formulate all the letters. I wonder…

  • shoreacres says:

    Didn’t have a clue about The Golden Key but discovered the full text online: I was surprised – it isn’t long at all. I just discovered 5 minutes ago that it’s written by George MacDonald, who inspired C.S. Lewis.

    I loved Palmer as a child. I had a green button and an orange button for some sort of achievement. My handwriting now is to Palmer as Verdana is to Edwardwarian script. The more I age, the more angular I become!

  • oh says:

    Laylou – somewhere along the way, a lot of us morphed our writing into a confabulation of printing&scripting. I think, tho’ not sure, it was thought that writing in cursive was quicker (smoother) a style than printing (block letters). It’s all become so second nature I can’t imagine not being able to read script much less write it, which was the essay author’s only concern, but which she also dismissed.

    Linda – thanks for the link. I will steal the time at the corporate desk today, as a “break.”

    Really? Palmer buttons? very cool. We got award certificates, I remember those. And little “Palmer” books, in which to practice. ah, yes. Thank goodness I took “typing” (now called keyboarding) as an “extra” in high school.

  • jeanie says:

    Well, as much as I like the occasional fountain pen, I find my fingers stained and longing for the gels and ball writers that seem to work so well for me. I have more handwriting styles than I know what to do with — sometimes unconsciously doing the writing of someone I know — am I channeling them that day? Lately I’ve been practicing writing with my right hand and believe me, that’s nothing like Palmer method!

    I love cursive — so long as I can read it, and some is tough! But I always did hate the Q — especially those that looked like a “2” and I wondered why. Years later I thought, “Someone probably designed that so people could remember it by thinking two.” Who knows. I suppose as long as you’re writing, that’s what counts!

  • oh says:

    Jeanie – I stopped writing that Q like a “2” as soon as I got away from my 4th grade teacher. We did not see eye to eye. I didn’t hold my pen correctly; I didn’t slant my writing enough; I didn’t this or that. Sheesh. funny the things we remember about writing cursive.
    But yeah, we gotta keep doing it. It’s a mind-hand connection thing, at least for writers.

  • Care says:

    Tis true, I think, that ‘pretty’ handwriting will soon be the way of the dinosaur – I’m in my 40s and it’s my parents’ generation and over that have beautiful cursive handwriting. At least or maybe only my Mom and her sisters!
    However, I LOVE fountain pens – practical jewelry, they say.

  • ds says:

    I remember strips of letters on manila paper demonstrating handwriting (first printing, later cursive) running around elementary school classrooms at just-above-blackboard level. And that horrible paper with the dotted lines that marked the proper size for lower-case letters. Never took; my handwriting has been most charitably called “chicken scratch.” Hooray for typewriters and keyboards!

    Will check out “The Golden Key.” Sounds fascinating.

  • oh says:

    Hi, Care – It’s crazy how our handwriting (whatevr method learned) morphs over time – I love your line about fountain pens being “practical jewelry.” mmmm

    DS – I had forgotten about those letter just over the blackboard – geez, how much time did we spend staring at those, not cuz we were absorbing how to form them but because we wanted something to stare at as we might have feigned interest in what the teacher was saying! Enjoy The Golden Key.

  • Kim L says:

    I swear to God that The Golden Key sounds familiar. George McDonald? I think that some of his books sat on my parent’s shelf.

    I’ve forgotten how to write in cursive! I remember a few letters, but even my signature is basically illegible, not true cursive. In my defense, my married last name is really really long.

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