Thursday, September 04, 2003

long hand

Thinking up acronyms for blogstop has reminded boynton that there are certain writing tasks that she can only achieve in longhand. Puzzles and poetry. For both she instinctively seeks pen and paper - is it the urgency of transcription or the cogntive chaos that is only ordered by the physical process of hand writing?

This means boynton is probably more a Discoverer than a Maker, according to the framework outlined in this fascinating article:
The Phenomenology of Writing by Hand by Daniel Chandler...

In English we talk significantly of 'fleshing out' ideas in words. Metaphors of touch highlight the importance of the hand in a sensual way of knowing. We refer to 'grasping' an idea and 'groping for' words to express it, and the verb 'to comprehend' derives from prehendere - to seize...

Many Discoverers refer to the hand as having a primary role in their composition (the hand, of course, is significantly associated not only with verbal expression but with expressive gesture). Hemingway felt that his fingers did much of his thinking for him

Many writers have alluded to the importance of handwriting in their thinking and writing. Discoverers see their thinking itself as tactile. Fay Weldon declared: 'I choose to believe that there is some kind of mystic connection between the brain and the actual act of writing in longhand' (Hammond, 1984). And Graham Greene commented that 'Some authors type their works, but I cannot do that. Writing is tied up with the hand, almost with a special nerve' (Hammond, 1984). The anthropologist Jack Goody (1987) wrote that 'Nothing surpasses pen and paper as being "good to think with"'. And Rebecca West reported that she used a pencil 'When anything important important has to be written... I think your hand concentrates for you.' She also emphasized the importance of kinaesthetic memory: 'My memory is certainly in my hands. I can remember things only if I have a pencil and I can write with it and I can play with it'

As one sometimes does in this associative activity boynton became a bit distracted by the following extreme example:

One Discoverer goes so far as to suggest that he feels not simply that the pen is an extension of the hand, but that he himself becomes an extension of the pen: 'It is the act of writing that produces the discoveries... The more I trust my pen to do its own writing, the less the writing reflects what my mind thought I would write... Words flow from a pen, not from a mind... I become my pen; my entire organism becomes an extension of this writing instrument...

I become my pen... conjured up images of 50's surreal advertising -
boynton is sure there must be plenty of pen-anthropromorphism imagery out there, but the best she could find today was this Pen for Men
This is one of the hundreds of fabulous vintage pen images at Jim's pen site
More pen images and essays at Pen Hero
Also vintage advertisements and steel pen catalogs includes many good links including this gallery of vintage pencil adverts
Mongol Twice the wear and half the time out for trips to the sharpener
and this ad perhaps approaches pencil anthropromorphic I am a pencil -sometimes I snap: Templar Duro-Lead This can't happen!...

Comments: long hand

Yes, we do identify our ideas and our selves with our hands. And so now, as mine show signs of balking when I ask them to do the things they have done for decades without complaint, this is like losing a close friend, or having your kind old dog turn on you, suddenly.
Posted by fredf at September 5, 2003 06:15 AM

A couple of years ago I injured my thumb (opening a can of dog food, no less!) - and even this temporary loss of movement was quite confronting. That basic primate grasp is quite fundamental to so many menial tasks we take for granted. And that's a striking analogy of betrayal, Fred. I think my knees may be starting to turn on me, but luckily my old labrador remains benign!
Posted by boynton at September 5, 2003 12:18 PM

No comments: