Cursive, Hieroglyphics of the Future

Recently there has been a lot of debate over the teaching of cursive handwriting in American schools. Maybe it has something to do with my love, not just of writing, but of history that makes me Pro-Cursive.

Every now and then I sift through the few old letters I have managed to save written by my grandmother’s. I am struck each time with the notion that the person who wrote those words took time out of their busy day to stop, sit down and write to me because I was important in their lives. It made me feel special. Every now and then we read in the news how new, historic documents have surfaced after many long, forgotten years. Quite often these are letters from war veterans to their families and in most cases these snippets of history are written in cursive. As a lover of history, I am filled with dread that one day these documents and their importance will lose all meaning.  Only those that hold degrees in cursive writing will be able to translate the obscure swirls, loops and humps of this cryptic form of writing. So much will be lost then.

What of the documents we already have carefully preserved in museums and library archives? What will become of them? They may be saved for posterity but what of their physical link to our nation’s past? When the vaults are opened and the common man is permitted a glimpse of these relics, will he be able to connect to that document merely by reading it in the very handwriting of the person who so carefully crafted it? What leaves a more lasting impression, reading the Gettysburg Address on a computer screen or standing before the very item knowing its history and reading its words for yourself? Will there be any sense of awe, purpose and pride gained when we have put ourselves at such a distance from those things that matter to our liberties? Or will these documents hold onto our hearts as much as an image in a book of Egyptian hieroglyphics we cannot begin to understand? 

To those school children of the distant future deprived of an understanding of cursive writing the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and original Bill of Rights may as well be in cuneiform and will feel just as distant to them as such. For the non-history buffs, imagine being given the opportunity to lay your eyes on the scientific formulas of Newton or Einstein not just in a book or on a cold monitor, but right there in front of you. What a thrill it would be to be permitted to hold the very quill of Archimedes or the ink pen which Beethoven used to write his 9th Symphony and not just look at these items but understand their meaning, to be able to read those special languages of scientific notation, mathematics and music.  Cursive holds that power over me, that love, that connection to those before me.

It is said that those who forget their past are doomed to repeat it. If the generations to come are intentionally allowed to forget a form of written communication, what affect will that have on the collective memory of our nation? How much will be forgotten simply because we were too busy to teach them the simple art of cursive and there is no one around anymore who can read it. Is this a risk we really want to take? I believe it’s not. Whenever that day may come that I am a grandmother, I will take it upon myself to teach my grandchildren and all their friends this craft. Too many people depend exclusively on the typed word, restricting their research and experience base to that leaves out so much of the world.

There are those that will argue cursive is out-dated, old-fashioned and simply too slow a method of communication. To which I reply, “What’s the rush?” We humans have rushed ourselves far too long. We seem to think we must constantly be ten steps ahead of the next guy and that somehow we are superior because our technology is more advanced than someone else’s. Sure, we can wipe out life on this planet in the blink of an eye if so inclined. That hardly makes us better, just more dangerous and maybe just a little bit more insane than the other living things we share this earth with. Faster is not always better.

I think we need to slow down, not speed up. We need to communicate better not faster. How about instead of stopping to smell the roses, we let ourselves stop and get a cup of tea or coffee, a pad of paper and a pen and write something down in the  slow, graceful, easy curves of cursive for the future generations to remember us by.

Sherlock Holmes To The Rescue!

When we first started talking on Skype I never really thought he had much of an accent. So, how come now that we’ve been living together in the North for almost eight months, I’m starting to hear it?

As some of you know my boyfriend is from Texas. His father was in the Air Force for many years and the family moved around a lot. He’s lived in Germany, France, Colorado, New Mexico and several other Southern states but Texas was always home to them and it was to Texas they all returned and lived once Dad’s military days were over. Living in so many places as a kid certainly tempered the Southern sound of his voice compared to his parents. His mother, for instance, seems to think ‘Jim’ is a two-syllable name, Jee-im. Sherlock Holmes would have a field day in our house what with my mom insisting that the part of your mouth your teeth are embedded in are called GOOMS and that you can carry your lunch in a paper BAGE. WTH, Mom? Where’d you learn to talk? Oh, wait. Not even twenty miles from where I did. Go figure!

Shortly after he moved up here, he noticed how much I use the phrase, ‘what-not’. Apparently of all the BIG things they have in Texas, the phrase ‘what-not’ is not one of them.  It quickly became a joke and we started adding ‘what-not’ onto the end of as many sentences as possible. In exchange for him adding ‘what-not’ to his vocabulary it was decided I should start saying ‘fixin’ more often. As in, “We’re fixin’ to go down to the store.”  It has provided us with much more amusement than it probably should but we tend to be easily amused (and what-not).

The other night we were playing ‘Second Life’ and he started talking about a mutual friend of ours, Al – as in short for Albert. We met Al at a place called Crack Den. Fun to RP with but as we haven’t been there in nearly two months now, haven’t  seen him.  “Jee-im” says we’re going to have to get Al a motorcycle for the new area he’s been exploring lately. It’s a lot like Crack Den. I’ve not been there myself as of yet. Anyway… SL motorcycles don’t come cheap and I’m thinking, “Why would he buy Al a motorcycle when we haven’t even seen or heard from him in two months?”   I ask, “Is Al even there?” He shakes his head a bit and says he doesn’t know. And I’m like, “So, why would you want to buy him a motorcycle?” He replies, “As the new Sergeant At Arms in the MC he should have a bike.”  And then it hit me. He wasn’t saying AL at all. He was saying OWL.  I start laughing.  I know very well who Owl is and suddenly the whole conversation made sense. “OH! You mean Owl not Al, as in Albert.”

 He chuckles, “Sorry, I was speakin’ Texan.”  

 One of these days he’s going to say ‘awl’ or ‘oil’ that way and I’m going to end up lost… again.

In the meantime, I’m fixin’ to head over yonder to get some coffee an’ what-not.  I need someplace ‘quite’ to sit an’ think about how I’m going to get him to use the words ‘wubble’ and ‘squee-haw’.