The title of the book, The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting by Anne Trubek did not instill a lot of confidence that I was going to see eye to eye with the opinions of the author. The urge to make marks to communicate seems hardwired into the human DNA, in my humble opinion. How we go about doing that has changed over time but the essence of mark-making continues. And even children who seem fascinated by technology still gravitate towards crayons and paint just as often so I’m inclined to think that Ms. Trubek’s “uncertain” stance is a little premature.
That said, I plowed through her text, and let me tell you, it was a bit of an ordeal. I am fairly familiar in the history of calligraphy and the handwriting so I was sort of hoping that this book was going to take a slightly different perspective. Nope. Ms. Trubek dove right into the history and attempted to sum it up in a few short chapters (less than 60 pages) with her own biases about the church and the patriarch. It makes me wonder whether she was just lashing out at the world or actually researching handwriting. Yes, history is full of injustices but deciding whether children today or in the future should continue to learn handwriting because of social injustices of 300 years ago hardly seems like sound logic.
Adding a layer of irrevelance to her argument, she included chapters about handwriting analysis and the introduction of the typewriter as reasons why handwriting should be summarily dismissed. Actually, those were all reasons why I thought her editor should be dismissed. It made the book feel choppy and disjointed. The introduction of the typewriter and keyboard created less need for handwriting but the chapter did not fall appropriately within the book.
Many of the statements Ms. Trubek made felt she was aggrieved and put-upon. It was not until the last chapter or so that she admits she left-handed (pg. 151) and reveals being judged “less intelligent” because her penmanship was not as legible. As a fellow lefty, I understand there are issues facing us but she needs to remove her personal bias from her writing.
Handwriting, like riding a bicycle, is a skill that requires patience and practice. Anyone can do it — unless they have a physical condition that inhibits their ability and then, yes, there are many alternatives. We live in a world now that does not make it a requirement to write by hand anymore. But, if you read this blog, I suspect that you are someone who believes that handwriting and pens and analog tools are worth using and saving.
Skip this book. I sent my copy, annotated with paper sticky notes to my pal Penthusiast. No one else should have to pay cash for this.