Friday, March 05, 2004

Walking the Pen

Walking the Pen

I haven't updated my handwritten journal for some time. My last entry was entered in Jakarta, while having an early beer at the Sahid Jaya hotel lounge (I try to carry it with me wherever I go). But this morning over brunch at an outdoor cafe, I managed to fill up a page.

Why do I want to keep a longhand journal when I already blog daily? I've discussed about this in a previous blog entry; you see, writing by hand is a pleasure--the same kind that an artist experiences from sketching or carving. I see it as a sacred act of meditation.

Typing words to convey a message is faster and less strenuous, but somehow a bit of its essence is lost whenever they are channeled through the sterilizing medium of the keyboard.

Writing longhand is heavy labour--you have to drag your pen across paper, forcing yourself to conquer its textural terrain, making you feel the weight and impact of every word you express. It is often not very fun if you try to write fast; the real pleasure of manual writing comes from executing a slow and leisurely caress of the page with rhythmic strokes of the wrist, aided by a smooth fountain pen that spews ink luxuriously.

I am not sure if they still teach kids to write proper cursive handwriting in school anymore, but the handwriting that I find among my students (when I was teaching in Jakarta) are simply horrible. (Their language is even worse). No one seems to know how to write properly anymore. Kids today learn to press remote control buttons before they know how to hold a pen. Once upon a time, a good hand is an indication of good breeding and learning.

I used to take a lot of care in keeping my handwriting neat during my student days but somehow over the years my own handwriting has also degenerated into illegible scrawls. It's also one of the reasons why I keep a longhand journal--it serves an exercise book for me to practise my handwriting. Call me old-fashioned, but I still believe it is a healthy habit to take the pen for a walk across some blank pages everyday.

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