Handwriting a Dying Art, Let’s Kill Truth Too

Purveyor of beauty Khoi Vinh laments the deteriorating state of his handwriting.

I’ve noticed the same with my handwriting.  He and his readers draw the conclusion that beautiful writing is a casualty of technology.  I recently had a related insight, about technology’s impact on beauty in general.

Tim Sneath recently helped the British Library digitize some of the most beautiful handwritten books in history.  The moment of insight came to me several months ago as I was looking through the copy of William Blake’s notebook hosted therein.  As you read through his notes (and those of the other great thinkers represented there), you’re struck by how much effort it must have taken to distill and refine his thoughts.  Looking through the notebook, you realize that this was Blake contemplating and refining insights which would eventually become jewels of wisdom.  This was his thought process, an extension of his mind.

It’s hard to imagine using such crappy tools as pen and paper to do serious thinking today.  If Da Vinci, Blake, and Milton were able to reach such heights of wisdom without copy/paste, search, C-Pen, Amazon.com, and keyboards — what does that say about people today?  We ought to be able to arrive at truth 100x quicker than they did, but we definitely don’t.

One Comment

  • Honestas wrote:

    I find that it gets harder and harder to find good, distilled, treasure troves of information that are easy to grok. These days, most internet information is unfiltered and unwashed, which makes digestion difficult. It is like getting a quart of rotten strawberries with one good one mixed in. 10 years ago, you could typically read a product manual and be almost an expert. For example, I still have an old copy of the Intel x86 technical reference manual just for nostalgia. (And the Motorolla HC11 manual too.) And let me add, as I ramble on but still make my point for this particular comment, I am still in awe at just how bad internet search technology remains after 10 years.

    I rather yearn for the days when a great thinker like Thomas Jefferson had hundreds of slaves at his command to handle the more mundane aspects of life. Bad joke. Ben Franklin didn’t need any slaves.

    Ironically, I am submitting a journal paper today, on an esoteric and not-well thought-out research topic (It actually summarizes a year of my “research” life). I guess there is something to be said for peer review.

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