Thursday, October 12, 2006


One of my daily reads is Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo. His liberal bias seems obvious, but he is not as screeching as many of the posters at Daily Kos. The "diaries" on this site may be what Bull Moose has in mind when he talks about the "nutroots".

I digress. I consider "TPM" a reliable news source, especially for "Washington Insider" stories. For example, I first heard about the Foley scandal on NPR, as I was driving to work. I've able to follow the scandal, and it's fall-out, through Talking Points Memo and its sister sites.

So, I was thrown off-guard yesterday afternoon when – amidst sound political reporting – Josh commented on an article on the decline of cursive writing. Toward the end of this entry - which seems one of the longer entries on his page - Josh asks, "How do you write when you put pen to paper? And how old are you?"

This topic is of some interest to me, particularly the research the Washington Post article points to that links a type of neurological development with cursive writing. I've long been curious about the what parts of the brain are involved in different modes of recording are thoughts. As recently as last year (or thereabouts), I wondered whether it made a difference if I created a poem while writing, or while typing.

To return to Josh's questions, I'm a bit over 50 years old. My memory is that we studied cursive writing for significant blocks of time through sixth grade. By high school, my cursive writing was neat, but extremely small (for some reason, I was obsessed with saving paper).

I broke my right thumb following my freshman year of college. Since I am right-handed, this adversely affected my writing, and my cursive has never recovered. When I review things I wrote as recently a year ago, I often feel like I'm trying to crack a code.

Let's take a recent example, written shortly after lunch yesterday. I had some potential poetic fragments floating in my consciousness, and I wanted to record them. From those fragments, I then free-associated with a number of nouns:

Harvest moon
yellow veil
red horizon

Spica and Pollox
brackish barrens
blue twilight

Spectrum shift
reflection indistinct
sketched outlines

Lost tales
stolen hiway
Mugo Pine
The last two entries were printed in block letters, because I wanted to remember how to spell them correctly ("Fomalhaut" is especially tricky, because it's pronounced "foamalow").

You may have been able to make out most of the letters prior to seeing the typescript version. But I think it's fair to describe my writing as "scrawl" rather than as "cursive".

No comments: