Pen and paper

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pen and paperOliver Sacks needs no introduction from me.  I was fascinated by the extraordinary ways in which the brain processes music and equally by the ways music models the brain.  An unfortunate side effect of Musicophilia is to make one self-conscious about ear-worms.  Not only am I listening to mine now, I am analysing them, for goodness’ sake …

Paper: an elegy is (to be honest) a bit of a lightweight, but a hardback with a rather charming embossed jacket for ONE POUND, stuffed with I-didn’t-know-that moments, can only be a good thing.  Two I-didn’t-know-thats from the same page (54):  Henry Petroski wrote a monograph on the subject of shelving, and Gladstone seems to have invented the rolling stack.

And finally The Missing Ink.  Again, nothing profound, but the book sprang from Hensher’s realization that he had friends whose handwriting he had never seen.  While enthusiastically debunking the handwriting analysis brigade, he nevertheless is convinced that knowing someone’s writing conduces to knowing more of the person.  From this springboard he takes a short tour of the history of handwriting and the fairly modern mania for teaching specific styles in order to get on in the world.  As one of the Marion Richardson generation, I don’t think it did anything much to generate a distinguished hand.  But when my printer broke, I excavated my fountain pen, put in a fresh cartridge and scribed with some satisfaction.

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8 responses »

  1. Shelving? – have you worked in a library too? I used to really like shelving, even when I was far too grand (relatively speaking) to be doing it. OK – current earworm?

    • I think Petroski was writing about the engineering rather than the activity. But yes, I have done my share with a trolley. Tended to start reading though, good for learning the collection but not the task in hand.
      Sacks made me think about Joe Simpson hearing Boney M as he crawled off the mountain (Touching the Void) and then of course I was stuck with Boney M and I don’t even like them. Recently – Tom Lehrer (Werner Von Braun) The Watersons (Heavenly Aeroplane) bits of Handel – bother now I’ve got Boney M again.

  2. I remember moving to the UK when I was eight and being told my handwriting was ‘wrong’, and I had to change it (no cursive allowed apparently). A confusing time! ‘The Missing Ink’ sounds right up my street – thanks for bringing it to my attention. Jx

    • Oh dear … all those ‘wrongs’ never make it right. Handwriting definitely a peculiar part of oneself, projected out to the world like one’s voice – you can school both of them, but they tend to become self-conscious and a bit precious. And both can be very surprising if you’ve known a person only through the printed word.

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