Writing on paper

Prompted by this article in the Atlantic on how people in general can’t read cursive.

Given a current generation of students in which so few can read or write cursive, one cannot assume it will ever again serve as an effective form of communication. I asked my students about the implications of what they had told me, focusing first on their experience as students. No, most of these history students admitted, they could not read manuscripts. If they were assigned a research paper, they sought subjects that relied only on published sources. One student reshaped his senior honors thesis for this purpose; another reported that she did not pursue her interest in Virginia Woolf for an assignment that would have involved reading Woolf’s handwritten letters. In the future, cursive will have to be taught to scholars the way Elizabethan secretary hand or paleography is today.

Dunno, I feel some form of cursive writing is just a natural human thing to do.

I was all for “maximum personal cyborg-ness” at an earlier stage of life, but I now feel the urge to be away from the screen and keyboard for some time, and pen-and-paper is a good fit for that, and … cursive writing is just a good way of using pen and paper.

As long as you are physically embodied, you’re going to feel some satisfaction in “doing things with your hands” (i.e. other than typing or pointing).

To quote the last paragraph from the article above:

I regarded the handwritten note as a kind of superpower. I wrote hundreds of them and kept a pile of note cards in the upper-left-hand drawer of my desk. They provided a way to reach out and say: I am noticing you. This message of thanks or congratulations or sympathy comes not from some staff person or some machine but directly from me. I touched it and hope it touches you. Now I wonder how many recipients of these messages could not read them.

Making marks on a writing medium in a quick, flowing way, using a writing instrument … is a form of communication, or even a form of expression, that you can do quite well if you try a little bit.

And if you are writing on paper, you aren’t going to be “printing”, are you? That’s be way too painful after a while — it’s only natural to not want to lift the pen up and down more than necessary (which is really all the “cursive” is!)

Finally, there’s a strong therapeutic benefit to writing with pen-and-paper, which (in my experience) has helped a lot, and it’s quite likely to help you out too.

Notebook requirements

Here’s what I want from a paper notebook:

  • Tomoe River Paper (with an exception for Midori MD)
  • Grid (i.e. not plain pages, not lined pages)
  • Page numbers (a new addition)
  • Size (A5 or A6 or B5)

P.S. I can imagine using journals as notebooks (and the year doesn’t matter, I’m using an old Hobonichi for this right now!) because they do have some sort of indirection.

P.P.S. I’ve probably mentioned this before but WordPress doesn’t make it easy to reference and update past entries, so until I switch to an Obsidian or Logseq workflow, mentioning it is sufficient.