Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Pride and Prominence of the Pen

Why is it that some pens make my pretty--although admittedly difficult to read--handwriting look terrible. I swear, the simple grasping of a poor pen transforms it from being perfectly legible under a magnifying glass and even artistic to perfectly atrocious. Is it too much pressure? A cheap ballpoint pen whose flow 'skips'? The size of the barrel causing a shift of finger posture?

Oh for the days when penmanship mattered. Yes, for the days when otherwise straight-A students received B's and C's in penmanship (shhh, don't tell, but I was one of those...old Mrs. Dineen the homework machine in 5th grade). As lucky as we are to have word processors that allow people like my husband to prosper--he was used as the example in college of who not to write like, unless the wanted a zero on their exams; I swear--the sterile uniformity of type can never have the charm, familiarity, and subtlety that handwriting does. Even the cursive fonts cannot compare. They are simply too even and uniform. The perfect regularity is just not human.

I didn't begin this post thinking about John Ruskin, but this does sound remarkably like his treatise in Stones of Venice protesting against mechanized production which takes away the human imprint on objects by making them too perfect and repeated.

Real writing varies according to subject, mood, location, and yes, even writing instrument. In fact, there is an entire science devoted to handwriting analysis: graphology. They go far beyond determining it's Henrik's handwriting. They can tell that Henrik was in a hurry, that Henrik was stressed from school, probably even that Henrik was sick with the avian influenza. They see these things in the darkness of lines, variations of pressure, increasing space between letters, greater/lesser slant, increased misspellings, etc. I'd write you a sample of some of these things but, alas, this is faceless type. Just imagine. Or count yourself spared. There are hundreds of things that handwriting analysts can scan for--it's fascinating. But now, we're left with bland type and emoticons to fill the void. So, go buy a pen that makes you write beautifully and send me a letter.

If you're interested, here's a sample from Wikipedia of possible interpretations by graphologists. What does your handwriting say about you?

Handwriting Characteristic Interpretation
Slant of the letters
  • A forward slant indicates an emotional enthusiasm
  • Straight up and down indicates a logical nature
  • A left slant indicates introspection.
Angle of the lines on unlined paper
  • An upward slant indicates optimism and higher energy.
  • A downward slant or lines with trail off the page indicate depression or physical exhaustion.
General shape of the strokes
  • Circular handwriting indicates a highly emotional nature.
  • Angular handwriting with sharp points indicates aggressiveness, directness, and high energy
  • Square handwriting indicates a real world, practical based approach
  • Squiggles and irregular strokes indicate an artistic and non standard approach
Individual letters
  • The letter "t" has the largest number of interpretations. For example where the horizontal "bar" of the t is placed on the vertical "stem" indicates where one places their goals, while the height of the t stem indicates the potential to accomplish those goals.
  • A low t bar indicates goals set lower than what can be accomplished.
  • A t bar high on the stem indicates goals set high.
  • A t bar that is above the stem indicates setting goals higher than can be accomplished.
  • If a small "g" is drawn like a figure 8, it indicates a strong sense of humor.
  • An indented "notch" in the upper oval loop of a small "h" is the result of an arrhythmic heart beat.
  • A small "r" with a square shape indicates someone who is good with their hands
  • A small or capital letter E which is drawn with rounded edges like a reverse "3" is known as a "Greek E" and indicates someone who is well read.

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