Dagdha's Blog

Pen and Paper

Posted in Uncategorized by dagdha on November 14, 2011

The worst part about not having a computer is that I can’t write. The illuminated words on my phone stared back at me, waiting for a reply. Have you ever heard of a pen and paper? came the expected response.  It’s no doubt the first response that came to your mind as well, but who writes by hand anymore?

Handwriting is a lost art, one that continually deteriorates as analog pens and pencils are replaced with digital keyboards.  I have a dear place in my heart for good penmanship, and I value few material possessions more than my fountain pen, but when it comes to the business of writing and the art of encapsulating my thoughts into words, my  preferred medium is the computer.

By the time I was born, televisions were ubiquitous, and I have been conditionally trained since infancy to focus my attention on brightly colored screens.  The glowing electronic facade is my window into unknown realms, it is my teacher, my lifeline to the outside world, and my friend.  Even books are now read on screens.  No, paper will not do.  Paper doesn’t burn itself into your retinas and cause sleep loss.  It does the opposite.  I can’t capture the same half-conscious, emotionally driven lunacy on paper.  It’s not invasive enough.

And a pen?  Pens are too messy – at least the way I write – and too slow.  Once I start writing it’s best not to stop, otherwise I over think my diction and eventually give up in apathetic rage. With a keyboard I can capture the madness, or at least try to keep up with it.  The incessantly blinking cursor is my metronome, driving the process forward in unrelenting mechanical fashion until something palatable emerges.

When the dust settles from a flurry of chaotic keystrokes, the computer allows me to cleanly refine my style and syntax, typically consisting of lengthy sentences that look like run-ons but are grammatically sound.  With a few clicks and an internet connection, I can search different dictionaries and thesauruses to satisfy my obsessive need for the right word without dramatically shifting my attention from the task at hand.  Like paintings before photography, typing has replaced writing’s original medium for capturing fleeting moments with something more efficient, although the artistic merit of its progenitor is not forgotten.

Write by hand?  I can do that, but it’s not the medium I prefer, and before you can accuse typing of being soulless, read the great authors of the 20th century – Thompson, Huxley, Hemingway, and Faulkner – and you can almost hear their typewriters clicking away like the carefully kept cadence of torch bearers.  These are the men who speak to me; they are why I write.  Shakespeare’s work is beautiful, arguably the epitome of our written language, but he never inspired me to grab life by the balls, question everything, and fuck up whatever dares get in the way of my quest for truth.  I write to transform my life and ideas into something tangible, something to reflect on, and I want to do so in the same manner and medium as many of my heroes.  So why not just use pen and paper?  Because it’s an entirely different and unfamiliar beast.

*originally composed with pen on paper

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