Contributor: Adrian Rutt
Some say “the pen is mightier than the sword”. I have often wondered how this cliche came to be and wonder if it still holds true. At the time it was first written in 1839 the Civil War was on everyone’s mind. Nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience is a good thing.
However the “pen” or the art of writing has diminished in our time. This day and age is absolutely inundated with words, most of them meaningless and trite. I can’t help but think sometimes that the ability to write so quickly - via typing - is inversely correlated with the quality of what is written. I wonder if the combination of our minds working quickly and our hands writing slowly produced more calculated, temperate, and thoughtful work. Perhaps the pen was how we were meant to create.
Now, we type just as fast if not faster than our minds can possibly comprehend. Is the art of writing well, the ability to craft something meaningful, authentic, and flowing being choked by modern technology? I will not go as far to say that I lament the advent of technology but rather I think we should keep in mind what’s at stake: What do we lose so to speak, when we move from one medium to another? It’s as if when we moved from handwriting, to typewriting, to the internet most thought “Good! More, more, more!” as if ‘more’ was good simply in virtue of it being not less.
It may be that this is just a plea to reclaim the power of writing. To not sacrifice such a lovely art to the gods of demand - or, perhaps, the god of lists and snark. We will never know what we lost unless we see what having both - pen and paper and the computer - offers us. One of the most insightful pieces of advice I ever received about being a good writer was that one should write on paper and then transfer said writing to the computer. This allows our brains to be more creative and more thoughtful while we write and before we type. This is still difficult for me, but I’m trying.
Sometimes the medium may frustrate us, just as seeing the same old scenery on our way to work might. Sometimes all we need is a change of scenery, and a whole new world opens up to us - quite literally. Don’t underestimate the power of the pen! (and paper) for it worked rather well for us the last thousand years.