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Shakespeare, Lord Byron, Elizabeth Browning, Pearl Buck, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ernest Hemingway, and Maya Angelou are some of our beloved men and women of letters. A “Man of Letters” is primarily concerned with literary and scholarly arts, the beauty of the written word and the value of humanism.

The concept of Humanism relates not just to the study of Humanities, but relates to any system or way in thought or action in which human interests, values and dignity predominate in philosophy or behavior.

Aha! Now you know why an Empathy Queen is interested!

Beyond all the brilliance in hand-written journals and diaries that capture our history and imagination, from Anne Frank to slavery, is the ability to capture great thought in the written word. Beautiful and eloquent thoughts have been shared in one’s own handwriting.

What a loss to realize that our children cannot read these works in their original form!

My heartfelt note and birthday wishes could not be read by my teenage recipient and that is when I realized how we have cheated this generation by giving up on Cursive writing. It is no longer taught in schools or part of educational curriculum. Spelling and grammar are not understood, nor appreciated, as they can be electronically corrected.

How can we transmit all of our history in handwritten love letters and documents of citizenship? Letters home have been a tradition of summer camp and kept as treasures, now relegated to relics of the last century. Papers and letters, censored or delivered in war torn areas by Red Cross delegations, speak of our greatest fears, loves, desires, horrors and history. Elie Wiesel wrote “Night” as his diary to remind us of what should never happen again. Ship manifests and hand-written applications filled Ellis Island to bring our descendants to America and record their personal effects, family members and birthdays. The Declaration of Independence and the signatures of our Founding Fathers cannot be read by our children.

Our humanity is in our hands and the way we brushstroke the letters of our signatures. Graphology provides us with clues to a writer’s character and personality when we can study the actual handwriting of an individual.

The beauty of linguistics and communication, a heartfelt note, a treasured thank you, Grandma’s well-kept recipes are part of our individual and family histories. The lost art of reading and writing cursive limits the notions of beauty and loyalty we can share and appreciate with our children.

Our signatures are bold, notable, remarkable and a lasting imprint; but only if we can read them.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/a-lost-art/
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quill and ink pot red

There are no love letters or birthday cards wrapped in ribbon since the advent of email. My days of pining over a pale blue aerogramme envelope, from a foreign county, and the passion of teenage lust and longing are a concept most cannot remember, let alone have ever experienced.

There was also an art to sending mail and adding stickers, confetti and doodles on the edges. You knew that if you applied the stamp upside down, it meant “I love you.” Yup, we tried to sneak a few tricks past the US Postal system.

I still remember shopping for cute stationary to write my letters with and today still prefer a handwritten thank you note. My favorite stationary in elementary school was strawberry scented (along with the roll-on lip gloss……..ahh what a simpler time).

I have collected cards for birthdays and anniversaries. It is still fun to get snail mail addressed to me and gift cards by post. Also, my mother taught me to throw metallic confetti into the birthday cards for a little extra fun. That is one memory and custom I would like to carry down to my own grandchildren someday.

Don’t get me wrong, emails and photos pass through my computer all day long. It is wonderful for so many things and extremely convenient. However, there are still some niceties that I would like to incorporate.

Brevity be damned; show me some personal attention and don’t delete my ideas or threaten me with a “Reply All.” Don’t respond with a smiley face simply because you want to end the conversation.

When I get a “hello” without my first name, I feel that I might be part of a batch email where someone cut and pasted the text, over and over again, but only changed the email address. It does not feel personal, warm, or necessarily for me, but I got lumped in with the other lucky recipients of the email.

I got an email offering me a free iPhone 4 signed by my husband. Immediately it was consigned to Spam. My husband offering to get me an iPhone? Inconceivable. Improbable. We have financial issues. Also, as a born and bred Canadian, he is not known for major spontaneous gift giving. Well, son of a gun, it really was from him. The phone company was offering it as an incentive. So, yeah, sure, I would love a new cell phone. Distrust and doubt have created filters (email humor) between those whom we love and share notes.

Casual emails, in place of a business letter, where words are abbreviated or spelled in shorthand for texting drive me crazy! This is a business communication so I believe that it should be written just as if I were sending a proper letter. “Luv” is supposed to be in pink on someone’s binder and fluffy pen; it is not part of a semi-serious work email.

The regulations of the grammar police are drilled into my head from years of proofreading and correcting papers. I got a perfect score on my SAT’s on the test of Standard Written English. I was proud of that distinction, but such skills are disappearing from the communication landscape. Today, thanks to email, I have seen handwriting from leaders and captains of industry that looks like they never made it past the sixth grade.

Email is meant as a convenience, but should not be at the expense of correct spelling and complete sentences. Emojis are not a replacement for condolences or congratulations. The nuances of Comic Sans versus Helvetica should not be an indication of your intentions.

Speak to me in full sentences. Use your words. Flattery by font will get you nowhere.

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