An Endangered Species

This is a species that once roamed freely on landscapes of white expanse.

Like all  thoroughbreds, when nurtured with due attention and care – but under a firm hand of discipline – it flourishes into the epitome of grace and elegance. At one point in time, producing the best of it is a dedicated discipline that rivals the rigour of excelling in maths or science.

In sloven hands, it runs wild and unbridled. Worst still, its untamed counterpart provokes misunderstanding.

This species is now slowly dying, crowded out by the conveniences of modern technology.

Remember the days when students used to scribble down notes by hand in school?

Remember the days when people still write each other snail mails?

In fact, some would even consider e-mails passé – what with facebook and twitter. (Although how anyone can confuse correspondence with social networking is beyond me.)

The art of handwriting is really now an art, rather than a matter of practicality. Is it a bad thing that writing by hand is slowly becoming extinct? Am I just being nostalgic?

I look at the box of letters, postcards and cards received over the years: the squiggles, the elegant longhands, the lean scrawls and the unique prints. Each and every one, full of individuality. One of a kind. Never to be repeated in the exact manner again.

Reuters recently featured a bequest to The Brahms Institute of a letter by Beethoven, written about 185 years ago:

“Beethoven was not a composer with beautiful handwriting. It is spontaneous and he wrote things, then crossed them out, his thoughts changed as he went on and that is the impression the letter gives.”

And that I think is precisely the appeal of writing by hand. Not because its writer might become famous and his letters might end up in a museum one day. But that a handwritten piece gives an additional clue to the writer’s personality, and perhaps even a flavour of his thought process.

A handwritten piece might also reveal that it originated from the writer himself: for example, a handwritten note by Barack Obama shows that it’s written by Obama himself, and not his speech writer, assistant or someone else.

Most importantly, writing by hand lends a personal touch.

I have to run off to write some thank you notes now. That’s all for today!


3 thoughts on “An Endangered Species

  1. Jared Seah

    Ha ha! Good one!

    Loved the metaphor 😉

    Ah, my handwriting! The one thing I am super proud of is that after scribbling my thoughts on paper, I sometimes have a hard time figuring out what I’ve written!?

    Good good. That means my mind is quicker than my hand. LOL!



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