Different worlds …

Last week I was having an email conversation with someone I knew years ago in Montreal and have re-connected with onhieroglyphic Facebook.

We started off talking about libraries. One thing led to another and libraries led to our shared love of books. Books led to e-books and e-books led to tech and tech led to cursive script, which led to future generations.

Trust me, it made sense. You had to be there.

First she told me about her granddaughter, who’s a junior in University, and all the techie equipment the school expects her to have (and use and haul around.)

The point she was making was that she was thrilled that, despite being part of the digital generation, her granddaughter still loved to read real books — the paper kind — with the pages you turn. And how, in fact, having received a book of poetry from a friend for Christmas, she ignored everyone and buried herself in it, not coming up for air until she’d finished it.

Something I can definitely relate to. It’s what I’ve done my whole life.

In our next exchange she mentioned that schools no longer teach cursive writing, that from kindergarten on kids use computers; and then she wondered if, generations from now, cursive writing will be thought of as the “hieroglyphics of our generation.”

Ponder that one for a while.

After we signed off I have to tell you I became quite melancholy. Don’t get me wrong. I thank god — okay I thank Steve Jobs — everyday for computers. They make my life as a writer so much easier. Back in the dark ages when I first began my career I hate to tell you what it took for me to get my thoughts down on paper.

Of course I made it far more laborious than it had to be — I could have used a typewriter. But no, I wrote everything out in long hand first, then when I was finally happy I typed it up. And not only did I write it out, I didn’t use just one piece of paper at a time. For some bizarre, and unknown, reason every sentence I wrote had its own piece of paper. Then I’d weave a paragraph together on another piece of paper. Then I’d start new sentences on new pieces of paper, etc. etc. etc. Then I’d go through it all again with each and every revision.

Don’t ask.

So I am not some stubborn old crone who lives in the past and longs for the “good old days.” My MacBook Air is my best friend. Wouldn’t want to live without my iPhone either. Or Google. What used to take days or even weeks to research takes mere seconds now. And most of you know I’m never far from my Facebook timeline. Being able to download a book anywhere you happen to be, regardless of the time, is wonderfully convenient.

But, it makes me sad to think that there will come a time when folks will have no idea what it’s like to feel the delicious weight of a book in their hands, and on their laps, to close their eyes and run their fingers over the texture of the paper, to smell the ink, to hear that gentle “snap” when they turn the pages, to be comforted at the sight of books stacked in cases, on shelves and on tables.

It makes me sad to think that there will come a time when folks will have no idea what it’s like to spread the Sunday New York Times all over the dining room table, or your bed, or the floor — and then take the rest of the day, or even the week to soak every bit of it up. A ritual I have looked forward to and enjoyed since I was a young girl.

It makes me sad to think that there will come a time when folks don’t know what it’s like to come home to find a letter waiting for them in the mailbox — that feeling of anticipation, ripping the envelope open before you even have your coat off — trying to make sense of the words scribbled on each page. They won’t have a clue what “personal” stationery is. And as for legible penmanship, what’s that???????

Handwriting analysts will go the way of the dodo, I guess. And forgers, too.

Nobody worries about forgers any more.

Now we have hackers.




12 thoughts on “Different worlds …

  1. I love this blog..as usual you are “on pointe!” …today after spending day with sick friend at hospital, I have loaded in my car, books to be returned to library…notes on book to be picked up (Zadie Smith’s Swing Time) and book to be read in hospital while waiting for various doctors..(.David Salle’s “How To See”..)why waste time and bitch about being kept waiting for appointments..always take a book with you..productive time to ignore the people also waiting! …and I wonder why Alex always has a book or 2 with her…maybe the reading gene gets passed on.

    I should note that my younger son ( her father) does not read anything but DIF manuals, auto and sports reports..but my older son reads more than I can ever imagine and my fondest memory is both the of us on sofa -with toes touching- ( he is 6’3″)- pillows behind our necks, and reading until 3-4 in morning.As Sandra says, we cannot argue with Scott because he has the facts straight!

    Someday, I will tell you about my uncle’s library..

    Again ThankYou for your blog..it is really a keeper! Xoxo, Barb

    Sent from my iPad


    • Thanks Barbara, you inspired the idea 🙂 Oh I always take a book to appointments, it’s a must. When I used to go to the film festival I always had a book with me. I used to see 5 or 6 movies a day, for 10 days and I was always standing in a line or waiting for a film to start. Reading made the time pass quickly. Let me know how you like the Zadie Smith book — it’s on my list.

    • We’ll probably have chips implanted in our brains and we won’t need “devices” of any kind. And maybe we’ll take a pill a day that provides all our nourishment — all of which is engineered rather than grown. We’ll have no possessions or gadgets so we’ll take up much less space. We will, however, all cone equipped with a special vest that allows us to propel ourselves from location to location. No need for cars, busses, subways, trains or planes.

      • LOL! Maybe that won’t be necessary. Maybe we’ll live forever because we’ll be automatically re-charged by solar power and any faulty parts we have will be easily and quickly replaced with a quick visit to the “genius bar” at the local Apple store.

      • Not that you ever need ideas for your next weekly piece Fransi – but you may well have hit on something here. Must ask google about this, not right now though there is food to be eaten and wine to be sipped, think I’ll stick with the faulty parts seems like more fun??

  2. My kids are still learning cursive in Alberta.
    My 11 year old is obsessed with paper books, especially the original releases.
    Stephen king is high on her list.
    I love it.
    Although I use an ereader for simplicity, I love having books around that I can just pick up, open and enjoy.

    • Love that your daughter loves Stephen King and paper books. I agree e-books are convenient and simple and I occasionally download too. But there’s nothing like a book, book.

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