Hands down

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The impact of writing on human culture has been tremendous. The reason we don’t have a strong awareness of this fact is precisely the evidence for its truth.

We cannot underestimate the effect that the written word has had on our culture. The world we live in has been shaped by the inscribed sign.

The handwritten word is not like the machine-written word. Our world was born out of a handwritten sign – the founding gesture of the tremulous hand pushing the pen on.

The hand is the indicating limb, the indexing protuberance of the human body. It is also the limb of history, responsible for keeping a record of the past. The hand may show where we need to go, but it also points to where we’re from. It points down to the written record, the rational arrangement of the past.

To plan far into the future, the opposite is required. The distant future tense requires the past perfect of the time (im)memorial. 

Just as the index finger points beyond the line of instant awareness, the hand driving the quill, pen or cursor points beyond the line of recollection into the depths of time, the matrix of history and collective memory.

 

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