I got some good feedback from my classmates regarding this “letter.” (We were required to write two letters during the semester. They could be to anybody but had to have something–anything–to do with some aspect of the course material.) My first letter is here.
The inspiration (or whatever) for this letter came from readings that discussed the trend to digital reading and the fact that the number of readable text is multiplying daily. It also came directly after someone sent me an email “inspirational message” that I found actually insulting. Hence the bit about insults.
The text that is styled (color, italics, etc.) was actually rendered in various fonts in the original, but I can’t manage to do that here.
Two of my classmates said they totally identified with the idea of the connection of the writing carry out with the paper, and how important it was for them in the creative process. One classmate commented that it was almost poetry. (Yay! I’m a poet and didn’t know it!)
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Linda #2 Class Letter, Group E Jan. 15, 2014
Dear Reader of this Letter,
Words are everywhere, multiplying in number so quickly. Even as I type this, I am adding to the abundance of written words that exist. Words are books, words are letters, words are implications, words are theories. Words can be insults —intended or in error. When written, words last forever, when merely spoken, they can influence no less.
What are THESE words? The ones here…the ones I’ve just created. Are they written? I mean “WRITTEN.” I am not writing them with a pencil or a pen. I do not feel the sloth or oiliness of an implement as it spreads ink on paper. 2H pencils grinding a groove down into the paper “three pages deep,” or 4B slithering, smudging as my hand passes over the text (I’m sinestral). Dot the “i,” cross the “t.” It is an effort, it is a movement. If I don’t, it’s not there. A pen: slipping along, easily transferring thoughts from my mind to the substrate; or resisting, uncomfortable—I have to force it to record my thoughts. If I make a mistake, the best eraser won’t extract it to it’s absolute extinction. Signs of my stream of consciousness forever are there—unless I take a fresh piece of paper and start all over with unspoiled text. Crumple up a page, rubbish bin overflowing with puffy, discarded words.
WHAT are these words? No pen, no pencil, not even crayon or marker has been involved in the making; buttons are being pushed. I can push them faster than I can form words on paper. Digital appendages creating digital data. My thoughts move faster, flow better. Better? Is faster better?
Electronic dots on a screen. Oops, did I make a mistake? Backspace, backspace, backspace. All gone. No one will EVER know what awful word I just erased. Change my thoughts, mix them up. This goes here and that goes there. Move them all around. Who will know? No arrows, no circles to say—take ALL this bit and move it up to over t-h-e-r-e!
No optimistic handwriting moving up, pessimistic scribbling moving down. Forward slant, backward slant. No mood, no emotion. Just perfectly formed letters each and every time. Unless I take a lot of trouble to change fonts: such hard work to make you SEEEEEEEEEEE how harrrrrrrrrd it was to ggget thhhheeese words on … on… on…??? NO! It’s not on paper. On PAPER comes when I go through the motions: ^S -> ^P -> PRINT.
You…you who are reading this right now! Do YOU have written words? Did YOU ^P? Or are they electronic flashes of energy sending bits of light onto the back of your retina, impulses to the brain?
Do they MEAN something? Do ALL words mean something? If I write a word, a sentence, a paragraph, a chapter, a book… Do I KNOW? Am I right? Write, yes. Right? Who knows. Maybe not. I read that… But everything in print is not correct, not true, not right. Just gibberish, some of it.
This is gibberish. But it’s right. Nothing factually wrong with anything I’ve said so far. Maybe it’s not gibberish, then. Maybe it deserves a Pulitzer prize! Maybe somewhere someone reads gibberish, puts a meaning to it and gives it a Pulitzer prize. An Emperor standing naked and everyone sees how beautifully he is clothed. So, I’ve read it. Maybe I shouldn’t believe it.
Cogito ergo sum,