A Eulogy for Cursive

500px-Ninomaru_Palace,_November_2016

‘It’s just easier to use this thing, that’s all.’

This here, this electric diary: I’ve grown used to it. Yes, writing in long-hand is nice, too. There’s a magical connection between your hand holding the pen and the pen scribbling forth, marking trails of words on blank pages like tattoos staining virgin skin. And it’s been so much a part of who we are that it won’t go away any time soon.  But fingertips tapping keys, clicking together this appearing stream: it’s not ink but then it is permanent (if still not fireproof).  So I’ll go with this new thing now. How innocent and simple this decision is, and how clear the rationale behind it.

~

It’s been so much a part of our nature, handwriting, so who knows what will happen once the computers take over (haven’t they, though, already?).  And who knows what to make of all this recent technology for future’s benefit (and it is very recent, ask any monkey).   So what did handwriting ever do to you that you’ve made it out to be so obsolete, so slow, and so antiquated? Cramped hands, paper cuts, and ink stains? ‘They’re not teaching cursive anymore’, I hear sometimes from people deploring this obviously declining society. But there’s a bigger problem here than the loss of cursive, it’s the loss of our humanity. ‘People are still writing long-hand?’.  ‘Books themselves are the way out, in print anyway.’  Is this because it’s had its time and now must be retired? Or perhaps it’s just easier to jot things on your phone.  Perhaps. But everything that becomes the norm in our society isn’t always better for us, but simply just easier.

~

It’s always been our nature to do the easier thing—Fast food. Dating online. Phones with alarm clocks, reminders, diaries, timers, games, tv shows, music players, and social media. Intense, emotional, and irrational judgments made from reading a solitary sentence of news. Dichotomies, labels. Hate and snark, lust and drugs. Pointing a gun into a crowd of people.

~

We’ve somehow stepped out from the arena of life to sit in the stands so that we may shout back our demands, our cries, our whines, and our minds; only for our benefit and the rest’s annoyance. (Are we changing the world or merely shuffling it around to make what’s most comfortable to us?)

Perhaps Nietzsche was right, in so many words: perhaps we’re just too lazy. We don’t have critics anymore for our arts, we have usernames. We don’t have news anymore, we have reports. And we’re not adults any longer but teenagers who’ve never graduated. Every year, a year older, and we still mumble comments under our breaths to each other while the teacher speaks slow from half-memorized lecture notes. We all wait for the bell to ring, but it won’t, and even if it did, we wouldn’t leave. Here is where we’ll stay, still searching for cliques and crowds, still fighting for the attention of that boy or girl through impotent yearning or forceful egotism, still trying bullshitting to make the grade, still trying to impress our friends, still huffing through our families’ events, and still eating junk food, playing video games, groping ourselves or some random confused and indifferent person and still sleeping late. We are free, though, aren’t we? We’re not jocks, nerds, prom queens, stoners, geeks, dorks, bullies, or clowns. But we are. Still.

~

Because it takes a lot of work, will, focus, and passion to do so little with the power that we have at our disposal of changing our lives and our world. You can begin to understand some of the more pessimist critiques of social theory when they talk of the self-destructive nature of human beings.

 

~

I want to teach a class for grade school kids on how to understand and exercise the power of language in an ever-growing viral culture.

~

In this web we’re stuck in, made visible through wi-fi—we’ve now become aware of our voices. What will we say?

~

There is a path we tread every single day, and it’s the path of least resistance. It’s more than a phrase, it’s carved into our genetic make up.  We walk shoveled sidewalks in the winter, we follow streams of strangers out the main exit to the parking lot after a ball game, and we wait for the lights to change to drive on.  These are for our safety and for our ease of mind.  In banal examples, conformity is just easier.  But now, conformity is everywhere, and I don’t think that most people understand this. Because as far as I can see, as long as it doesn’t immediately hurt us or our chance for immediate gratification, we are willing go along with whatever the consensus of the group we are most loyal and most similar to.  And you can’t fight it, not at first. Again, it’s in our DNA. We are all only lazy monkeys on that path of least resistance. Nature has, historically, not been daring, bold, and creative for very long; that’s a human’s trick. So know that to be genuinely human, you must fight the consensus, and sometimes, fight the culture.

We have been pushed and pulled by evolutionary forces where our own minds and bodies stop of us from evolving; and now, with this ever-growing technology making it that much easier to exploit you of your choices, your attention, and your sense of right and wrong, the one thing that you can control—the one thing that has been the impetus of the positive aspect of our progression as a human species—is starting to break down as well. That is our will.

~

Just know you have power. Just know you have a voice and a style and an existence that is unlike any other that’s ever been or will be ever again. What will you do with that power through your words?

This is a dangerous time right now. There have always been dangers, everywhere, since we’ve twitched in our oozing habitats millions of years ago. But the dangers we’ve always been afraid of the most has been those done to our bodies. While this is still true (so far that we still have control over our bodies so that we may defend them against dangers), we must now realize that harm can come even easier to our minds and our spirits. We are being influenced every day through our screens in ways that we couldn’t possibly imagine by people that just want a little bit of our attention and then our money. We must realize that our minds and spirits can die too, leaving us less than humans or animals but simply bodies moving us along on another day’s work with a sober and solemn and automatic indifference. The death of cursive is only the beginning.

Don’t let your will atrophy. Don’t let your mind suffocate. Don’t let your spirit die. Exercise them. Use them correctly. Strive to be better.

‘Your body is a temple’?  No, all of it—your mind, body, spirit, and will—all the things that make us human, that is your temple. Your life is a temple; and so, goddamnit, who is the god you pray to?

One thought on “A Eulogy for Cursive

  1. I still write because all that stuff runs on electricity. Creativity does not. Long after the next blackout, I’ll still have paper, a pen and a candle. Just like William Shakespeare. I’ll use the other stuff, too. ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

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