e. e. cummings, i’m not…

FREQUENTLY, WHEN I START TO WRITE, I LOOK UP AFTER A FEW WORDS, ONLY TO NOTICE THAT THE CAPS LOCK ON MY KEYBOARD IS STILL ON.  THEN I HAVE TO REACH OVER AND click it off, normally backspacing to the beginning to make corrections.  Why, you ask, is the caps lock on?  It is because much of the time at my computer is spent in processing orders from the online store we operate, on which we sell music CDs.

unfortunately many of our customers have not realized that an order is not a text message so they never capitalize anything nor do they insert any punctuation except sporadically in, the wrong’ place  when we get their orders we have to make corrections so the post office and ups dont reject the addresses and return the packages to us with additional shipping charges due  im struck with the inconsistencies of our language usage today and the ways in which it impacts some of us while others never have a clue

Annoying, isn’t it?  Although we don’t use any, I understand that there is software on the market to correct the errors which are caused by folks who either don’t know or don’t care about the rules necessary to get parcels from one region in the country to another.  I don’t want you to read this and to expect a page-long diatribe against texting and its residual effects on our communication.  What has actually happened is that my eyes are being forced to focus on the bigger picture.   The writing is on the wall, if you will.  My generation communicates differently than the one currently reaching majority.  Although you wouldn’t know it to look at my handwriting, we were taught penmanship in elementary school and graded on it into high school.  Many of the children coming through our schools now will spend one semester or less in third grade learning to write cursive letters. It will not be a requirement for them to use this skill at any further point into their schooling.  Frequently, even today, college students have problems reading documents which are hand-written, simply because it is not a skill they themselves have practiced.

I hear the purists now exclaiming that it is a shame and that our children are being robbed of a life-skill they will need as they mature.  They may or they may not be being robbed, but given the present usage of technology in communication, it’s a skill which they’ll never miss.  And, even as I hear those voices clamoring, I remember that my generation was not schooled nearly as extensively in the art of writing as was the generation preceding.  Our teachers were content to produce students who could fill the page with legible material.  The taskmasters in the schools the generation before us demanded perfection in forming letters, with sweeping tails and open strokes which were a thing of beauty, not a utilitarian skill intended simply to allow basic functional technique.  My father’s handwriting is still a work of art, a masterpiece of which to be proud, while mine is crabbed and messy, a tool to get me by when I have no keyboard on which to store my memos.  The progression in handwriting, or more accurately, the regression, follows a logical path, with the technology replacing human labor more and more as the skills deteriorate.

I think that the change I see in communication styles is a good part of the reason for my enjoyment of writing this blog.  Little by little, I see conversations being reduced to ten word sentence after ten word sentence.  Many of the “threads” of interaction I see between friends are filled with ten word corrections for the improperly understood former ten word sentences, but there are no changes made, no real expansion of the dialogue.  For conversation to be properly understood, the language must be utilized more fully.  Frequently, uncommon words are called for, since they express the ideas better than those in common use.  I have enjoyed the process, the daily task of selecting words, hopefully the right ones, to communicate the ideas which are in my head and need an avenue of expression.  Even more, as I see the interplay between friends and groups shrinking in on itself and becoming almost trivial, I am driven to continue my nightly quest.  I will grant that a number of the subjects I have chosen have been in themselves trivial, but at the very least, those ideas are no longer trapped in my already overburdened skull, gumming up the works for other, more important, tasks.

I guess I’ll keep at it for a little longer.  I hope you’ll keep reading once in awhile.  Who knows, you might find one gem amongst the mountains of coal.  I’ll do my best to get the capitalization correct and the punctuation kept under control.  It’s the least I can do.

“The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.”
(Joseph Priestly~English chemist and clergyman~1733-1804)

“You may not be able to read a doctor’s handwriting and prescription, but you’ll notice that his bills are neatly typewritten.”
(Earl Wilson~American athlete~1934-2005)

4 thoughts on “e. e. cummings, i’m not…

  1. Well, when I DO manage to read longer posts than a facebook status allows I am always pleased I did. I miss the blog length lifestyle we had a couple of years ago-haha. I know that fewer people comment on blogs these days but they are still worth writing ESPECIALLY (that was for dramatic effect, not order typing or yelling 😉 when clever folks like you have something important or wise to say. Don’t stop Paul. This is a great blog!

    I remember my mom telling me how much time she had to spend on her handwriting when she was in school. And now I’m hearing they may stop teaching it all together? Progress comes with regress and makes us miss our good old days doesn’t it.

  2. I like the way your brain works, Shan. A “blog-length” lifestyle seems to me to be about right, unlike our ADD-inspired status updates.

    Thanks for the “shot in the arm”! I’ll take all of that I can. Of course, my latest blog will tell you that I don’t need that, but you can’t always believe everything you read.

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