What perhaps is most unusual about this post is that it was first written into a small black notebook with a #2 pencil. Having recently parted ways with my employer, a company with Mengelinian aspirations if not downright in cahoots with the Lizard Overlords or at least the Weekly World News, I am currently between computers and having to rely on the kindness of strangers, which these days is not always that kind…. Considering the things I have to do in return… what is a lady/gentleman to do? A borrowed computer here, a trip to the library there, and in the interim turning again to the pencil and paper to craft my ranty-writings and portentous ponderous and continue to bring my audience weekly musings and dripping caustic comments in order to make you go “hmmmm.” In taking the pencil in my fingers I have almost forgotten what it feels like to write more than a Post-it® note worth of thought. I was never good in pen/wo/man/person/ship to begin with. My cursive resembles contour drawing more than a flowing script, my “normal” style is a mixture of block letters and chicken scratches and this results in something perhaps more outsider art than a message for others. Bethatasitmay, using these simple tools I am able to still assemble my thoughts onto paper, I have downgraded from an expensive computer networked to a corporation of hundreds (In the spirit of the Zine movement how could I not?) and using a found pencil and a discovered notebook. This form of writing does not allow this blogger complete freedom. I must maintain a conservancy of words. The extra writer’s cramp needed for any transient thought isn’t worth it. Vulgarity – so simply placed on the keyboard that it slips of my fingers without thought from that rotten rat-part of my brain, is filtered out by the time delay in my having to transform the entirety of my hand in order to manipulate the stub of the pencil and drag it about so the graphite leaves a trail creating marks for others to read.
When was the last time you wrote “shitfuck” by hand? I actually had to think of the shape of each letter to draw out that expression and this lasted longer than a sudden clap of anger, the sort of emotion needed in order to only find “shitfuck” the most apropos term to express that thought…. The ease of qwerty, either touch typing or hunt-and-peck, allows for more base thoughts to emerge and with effort another slower world emerges, one where with 8 letters I may also write out the word “prudence” or a multitude of other terms more appropriate for an age of actual letters, created by the dust of stone or etched into stone.
In this notebook, there is no cut-and-paste. Unless I draw a line from where the text is and where I now intend it. Form and function, technology and society, base and superstructure, misfortune and malice, all transmitted by graphical means and each process shapes the way ideas come across in ways that are not but the surface but impact the deeper currents of thought and meaning. In a world without computers, will we still be able to think the same? In a world where only artists and hipsters use pencil and paper, will we think the same or look the same or will we lose something in this Brave New World? Some may ask, demand, consider, what a ramble, you say, what a walk down memory lane, we need not travel through such a trip and listen to a Doomer who should be entertaining us with prep-work and blathering rants of canning fritters and burying guns in strange locations to muse on the use of pencils, my what a bore, what the stuff of those who write tomes on material culture or …. Brrrr… did someone say professor of linguists? Oh the horror. Quick call a Cognitive Scientist before we discuss morphology! Who is this citizen journalist a Dr. Rabelais, a Sir Baron von Reverend Johnson of the Intertubes? Who is s/h/e/it to speak with any authority on the use of tools in shaping thought and what does this have to with the shit, sir, the shit hitting the fucking fan, sir?
To wit, I reply yes better minds have discussed this subject, but reading about it and experiencing it first… no pun intended…. hand, are two different things. Slapping out a quick post on a laptop on the train or the airport is very different from carrying a notebook and having to really commit to the words… to think outside of google (which I still have on my iEverything I still call a “phone”) and to access the knowledge that remains long after we close our browsers. I am at the age I can start talking about Kidsthesedays. I wonder about Kidsthesedays and what they may be losing in clinging so early to their tablets, to knowing nothing about scripts and blocks, to exist in a world of connectivity that itself is connected to a plug connected to a power plant connected to a vein of coal that narrows as it is followed deeper and deeper into the earth were it not removed from a mountain top now eroded, powering down so that so many video game characters may power up. These little darlings are ready for our Capitalist-cum-Fascist world, their thumbs are ready for replacement by googleglasses™ so that when they look at a soda can they see a beatbox they can control…. this is an actual example from the news… I can only think of the nightmare existence a kid puffed up on cheesypoofs trapped in a world of singing products and wonder at all the drugs we will have to proscribe in order to make that fat little shit “normal.”
In my former industry some whispered about the older workforce, the grannies out there who did not know how to turn a computer on. I wonder, what about the grandchildren who don’t know how to turn a computer off.
Here, I examine the notes I made in my little black book. Having gotten my personal laptop repaired, paid for with my dwindling fund, I am now back to a digital online life, however having to find hotspots and sundry other power outlets. Reading over my notes I see that while there was still graphite in the pencil, I continued to ramble on for another two pages. Re-reading these notes, I decided they were not worth transcribing. Perhaps this is a win for technology after all.