Are we forgetting to write by hand?


In the middle of the fruitful nineteenth-century philosophical landscape, the lucidity of someone as irreverent and controversial as Shopenhauer revealed the existence of two types of writers. This simple and concise categorization basically distinguished between those who wrote for the subject itself, that is, who had had ideas or experiences that seemed worthy of being communicated, and those who wrote for writing and on whose need for money they based their entire vocation. «As we promised, we send you this postcard so you can see where we are. Tell you that we are being very happy these days. Yesterday we were in Ayamonte and tomorrow we will take a ferry to Isla Cristina. We already have tickets for Portugal. Grandma as always, with her carnations. Time accompanies us and we remember you a lot, even if you call me heavy! You owe us a kiss for your birthday. Give a few to mom and dad. We love you. Signed: Rafa and Pepa ». I think that my grandfather and in general all of the world belonged without any doubt to that first group. A group that found in the handwritten letter the most effective and direct way to express with haste that the grandmother continued to dump all her creativity on the paper napkins she used to create carnations or express the exact dimension of an exercise as old as missing .

That need to take a pencil, a pen, a fountain pen or, in the worst case, a pencil and draw words on paper that express everything we want to freeze in time is a practice that today seems extinct if we stick to the disappearance of media such as letters, dedications in books, postcards, Christmas greetings or the newsrooms themselves. All of them depositories of a space, a sudden expression therapy, a feeling and an era that have been gradually replaced by the emoticon of a monkey covering his eyes, the "sticker" of the Poison urging you to practice the oldest trade of the world or the "meme" of Julio Iglesias's turn with which it is no longer necessary to use expressions like a gulf to refer to someone's dissolute routine, but rather simply send the singer's face always accompanied by the unmistakable "and you know it" .

The rubbing of the ink

In the midst of this paradigm shift, of evolution in the methods of communication and imminent extinction of the handwriting exercise for the sake of technological irruption, the following question could be raised: are we forgetting to write by hand or are we simply learning to communicate differently? The philosopher, essayist and translator Fernando Castro (Plasencia, 1964) not only denies this possibility, but also bets on the idea that, in any case, we write too much: «I could play with the idea, post-Derrida, that, If the history of philosophy was, among other things, the "forgetting of writing" and, therefore, a phono-logo-centrism, the current global and neoliberalized era is marked by the deranging of writing. I do not believe that we are so much in an "amnesia" or dissolution of it as in a super-presence, in a kind of deficit of hyperactivity scrutiny. We write too much, we share everything and we are not able to brake. We have become anomalous delusions of superwriting, ”he says. The question of whether we write differently, however, generates a more positive and remote vision of academic dogmatism, as he says: «When you do not favor a" way "of writing, as is my case, you find it difficult to fall into a catastrophic discourse as if only nineteenth-century prose deserved to be read, indexed what (presumably) academic or sheltered in nostalgia (viejuna) an exercise that "would have to be done" with a goose feather ». Moving in the current screen ecosystem complicates the coexistence between both formats, but in no case makes it impossible.

In his book «Transmedia Reading», the doctor in Social Communication Francisco Albarello points out a concept of special interest that helps to better understand the relationship between that marriage of convenience that form writing and technology. We read and write on the same device. And the fact that these two practices occur in the same place inevitably forces us to have to adapt the second to the first. The use of whatsapp and the current use of digital messaging platforms is the clearest activity to exemplify it: chat can be understood as a genre in itself. That kind of dichotomy between written language - which tends to be more thought, formally and strictly distant - and oral language - which approaches proximity and spontaneous - have found a record that manages to have an entity by itself. A register that has its own tools and communication codes and whose use when expressing a thought depends solely and exclusively on the individual will presented by the user. There is, however, a generational gap characterized by nostalgia and the lack of current practice in the classrooms (barely written dictates or style is exercised) and driven by the memory of how the hands that writers once moved like Javier Marías, Víctor del Tree or Federico Moccia are still intact to preserve the artistic and artisanal character of the ink. The first type and has the impulse to correct on the paper in a conscientious way the possible faults that have been detected until the page is considered good. The second, former Mosso de Esquadra and author, among others, of the finalist novel of the XIII Fernando Lara Prize of 2008, "The Abyss of Dreams", still relies on the scratched notebooks and the pen to sort their ideas and schematize the chapters of his works: «It starts being something small, a word. And it grows into something universal, ”he admits, adding:“ I learned to write by imitating my father's calligraphy to resemble him. There is a sentimental component in all this. Also, I really like the ink rubbing on the white paper. It is not virtual, there is something that grows before your eyes and when I write by hand I take the liberty of not correcting, I focus on the writing itself ». Catalan also claims the need to preserve handwriting "not only because of the neural connections that it implies, but also because it keeps us attached to something that connects us with the very essence of learning." In the case of Moccia, the phenomenon of Italian sales also takes refuge in the warmth of the sketches made by hand to give romanticism and authenticity to their stories, because the feeling of being drawing words in nothing resembles that of typing them.

La Olivetti

Everyone shares that element related to the spirit of the Amanuenses that is opposed, to some extent to Castro's gaze: «I started writing by hand and pencil, I went through the Olivetti machine, the electric machine and the first computers. I dictated articles from landlines, I sent texts for that obsolete device called fax and now everything goes (apparently) like silk with internet ». Is there really an orphanhood of handwriting? If we think about my grandfather's trip to Portugal and his way of claiming a kiss through the ink of a pen or in the notebooks of Víctor del Tree, everything would indicate yes, but deny the possibilities offered by the Technological world in terms of communication would not only be foolish, but also dangerous. The words continue to demand that someone write them so that, as I would say, the wind does not take them away, but the choice of the tools with which to do it - be it a keyboard, a screen, a pen, Castro dixit, the finger of the pie– is something that only corresponds to the interest shown by future generations for not converting the art of writing into a simple memory.

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