Morpheus on.. The Art Of Writing Is Dead (?)

At least, according to the BBC, it is. In a recent online news article, they claimed the keyboard has extinguished the Art Of Writing. But Morpheus DISAGREES – and here is why…

This writer has always had problems with “joined-up” writing. Oh, he learned how to do it at school – but he soon discovered that his hand had trouble keeping up with his brain, resulting in him gradually writing faster and faster until even HE could not understand the scrawl that lay before him.

And so he began to write solely in capitals. And he is not alone.

Recently, he noted – in a list of hand-written comments on a TV programme – that many others do likewise. Whilst still others write in upper- and lower-case, but without joining the letters up.

However, this issue does not apply when one TYPES.

This author uses a very fast “hunt and peck” method for typing (having never learned the conventional two-handed method: if he had known how MUCH he would end up typing, he would have taught himself to do it properly from the start – but it is too late now) and can type as fast as he can write.

However, this monograph is about WRITING – IS it becoming a lost art? Well, good English certainly is – but that is another subject. This piece questions whether the simple business of writing a literate letter to someone is becoming obsolete, in this World of e-mailing, texting and gawdelpus – Twittering.

And the answer to that is – sure.

Now while that may sound at odds with the opening paragraph – it is not.

Certainly HAND-writing is a dying art. In fact, thanks to “snail mail” taking an eternity to arrive (if it ever does) the humble written letter is ALREADY dead – and this historian is happy to dance on its grave. Writing letters is a monumental pain in the arse. In order to maximise one – you end up having to rewrite it ENDLESS times.

But with a KEYBOARD, you can correct, refine and distil it – until it says EXACTLY what you want to say. So if anything, the keyboard has actually PERFECTED the Art Of Writing (you can even knock out a hard copy and POST it).

However – this is NOT the case with texting and Tweeting, where one has a LIMIT to the number of characters one can use (which has created a form of “new-speak” that has little to do with the English language).

It is only true with E-MAILING – where no such limits apply.

And just as with texting and Tweeting, once an e-mailer presses “send” – the message zips through the ether, arriving IMMEDIATELY (or as near as dammit) in the intended recipient’s computer’s in-box.

Moreover, with the New Generation of hand-held computers (iPhones, iPads and so on) coming within reach of most people’s pockets (both financially and literally) an increasing number of people do not even have to wait until that intended recipient reaches their home or workplace.

Therefore you cannot blame the new TECHNOLOGY for attempting to murder the Art Of Writing – just some of those who USE it. Particularly the YOUNG.

While texting and Tweeting are fine for KIDS – for fun – they are hardly a great training ground for PROPER interaction. One hates to sound like an old fart, but these two media are destroying the Art Of COMMUNICATION.

Texts were once a cheap alternative to phone calls, but today they are have largely become a substitute for TALKING (they should have been superseded by the “video chat” systems, but that would require conversational skills most young people LACK these days – and then there is that damned DELAY).

Meanwhile their younger brothers – Tweets – are just another means of “following” celebs (like the execrable “E!” channel).

And with an electronic “barrier” between people, some no longer feel the need to maintain the filter between their brains – and the verbiage they emit (see “Flamers And Trolls” – elsewhere in this column).  

However, all is NOT lost.

This historian believes that texts and Tweets are merely a passing phase – like the Rubik’s Cube – and that with the advent of these pocket computers, letter writing COULD make a COMEBACK. Even for the young.

Because these tiny machines have everything that is needed to write ACTUAL LETTERS (and for free).

Thus if people permitted themselves the TIME to properly COMPOSE those letters, the keyboard would merely become a means of DOING so, without need of waiting eons for a REPLY.

And while some people do not yet POSSESS a pocket computer, nearly all have a HOME computer – and BOTH give access to Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo et al. Sites which give you a writing panel, which comes with as many characters as you could possibly ever NEED.

Not to mention – with a quick click – a complete range of typefaces (fonts) and punctuation marks. Plus different type sizes, colours, “special characters” (like Ñ or €) and the means to “embolden” or italicise your words.

Stuff you CANNOT DO with a pen and paper.

And if your Englishes aint as good as wot mine are, they have the (USUALLY reliable) SpellChecker – some of which even correct GRAMMAR.

Plus, you can pepper your letters with text, pictures – even VIDEO. Either lifted from the Interweb or created by YOU.

So let us not declare the Art Of Writing to be dead, just yet – this chronicler is using it right NOW.

For YOU!!


5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Anonymous on February 6, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    16h20 in UK: I have not read this yet, but the Comment box dropped in before the Post text. So here is my opinion: It is Superb! (I can always alter that if the weird thing happens and the piece is NOT superb after all.)

    16h25 in UK: Very good indeed! In summary, then, we are nowhere near the end of this process. We are hardly past the (in terms of railways) stage of open carriages with smoke and assorted muck flying in the face of the passengers. Good show. Very detailed. And, yes, writing is not dead. And it always WAS the skill of a minority.

  2. Posted by Vincent on February 7, 2012 at 11:22 am

    I’m reminded of the song Joyce Jameson sang in “The Comedy Of Terrors” (THERE’S an obscure reference). She played an undertaker’s wife and the song was “He Is Not Dead But Sleepeth” (a real song, based on a Bible quote) – and it could well be applied to the Art Of Writing!

    After writing the above piece, I was moved to try an EXPERIMENT. I figured there are FOUR main kinds of handwriting: the standard upper- and “joined-up” lower-case, “Lesson One” upper- and lower-case (where the lower-case letters are not JOINED) all-caps – and all-caps, with the letters that SHOULD be capitalised made 50% LARGER.

    And so I wrote a test piece in all four styles, against the CLOCK. The result was bound to be distorted by my personal style (all-caps) but the result was still interesting.

    All-caps was, for me the quickest and clearest. Just BEHIND that came standard upper- and lower-case – but being against the clock, in my case it was also the least LEGIBLE. And just behind THAT was all-caps, in two sizes – but that one is OBSCURE (I’ve only seen it as a font on movie titles). Meanwhile, WAY behind came “Lesson One” – although I suspect those who are USED to it are faster.

    But the experiment DID serve ONE purpose: it demonstrated that while the standard upper- and lower-case is QUICK – unless the exponent is a CALLIGRAPHER, it is the hardest to READ.

    Therefore, my main point in the above – that, properly used, the KEYBOARD could be the SAVIOUR of Writing – would appear to be VINDICATED!

  3. Posted by Alfie on February 12, 2012 at 12:14 am

    Well said, old boy!

    My little sister (who spent most of her English lessons standing outside the classroom door because the English master didn’t like her) sends me texts which, presumably for brevity, have all the vowels removed! Takes me ages to work out what the hell she’s talking about sometimes.

    So I fight back! I reply to her as verbosely as I can manage and with correct spelling and puncuation. It then takes her all the time her “shortcut” saved her to trawl through my response!

    As far as the “young people” are concerned you must remember that they have the disadvantage of English teachers who are barely literate themselves – not pompous, over-educated kiddie-fiddlers such as we experienced!


  4. Posted by Vincent on February 12, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    It never ceases to amaze me how many of my current writing skills (technique, at least) are derived from those years. Despite my having barely written anything “creative” for around twenty-five years – when I DID finally take up the pen, it all came flooding back.

    Thank gawd Max didn’t find ME attractive!

  5. …the keyboard has actually PERFECTED the Art Of Writing…

    This snip of your above piece deserves wide quotation.

    Also: see my Comment as Anonymous above.

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