I am a little disillusioned with the world I’ve found myself in, as I dictate the first draft of this post onto my iPhone. I don’t know when exactly I adopted all of this new technology, darlings (I mean, I supposed I could check with the adoption agency, or else dig through my receipts) but I fondly remember scribbling notes on beer mats, on the backs of receipts, on anything available. I remember writing out entire first drafts of things by hand, with asterisks and circles and arrows, indicating where another entire passage (which might have been written on the back of a Perkins place mat, where, at one o’clock in the morning, after a post-bar meal of pancakes and sausage, I came up with the brilliant addition) was to be inserted.
I remember pockets full of napkins covered with drafts or doodles or ideas or phone numbers.
I remember crying when they accidentally went through the wash and came out mashed and pulpy.
I remember desperately trying to pull them apart and decipher the lost treasures.
I used to have entire dresser drawers filled with handwritten stories covered in coffee stains, smudged lipstick and beer rings, and the smell of paper and old stale coffee or beer was like a time machine for my senses. I would hold the pages to my face and breath in the memories of where I was when I wrote each silly word in a script that is uniquely my own. I could relive the days sitting under a tree in a park in the middle of the city. I remembered my first day spent wandering around under the skyscrapers, overwhelmed by it all, and taking refuge in a park I stumbled upon.
There is a sensual richness to those memories that cannot be matched by old computer files that stay the same no matter how old they are. They don’t sit in a drawer and age, they don’t dry out or fade. Digitally we may be able to be more precise or efficient or effective and productive, but are those qualities we want to ascribe to art, or does that not sound like words you’d find in a commercial for a new automobile? Precision German Engineering and blah blah blah…
In adopting all this technology and machinery are we, in fact, becoming more machine-like, and less spontaneous, less organic, less accepting of foibles and mistakes that add character. Have we actually adopted the auto-tuning approach to every aspect of our creative process? Does everything really need to be homogenized and framed into 11 point Garamond font?
Very soon we will live in a world where no one knows how to write cursive anymore, and ‘handwriting’ will be resigned to an archaic font on your computer.
Call me an old romantic, but I miss my collection of notes and doodles. Some of my best ideas originated on napkins or beer mats, and I have never had to Photoshop coffee stains on my old photos or postcards — I came by mine honestly.