The Graphological Implications of Rampant Computer Use

Here’s something I’ve been thinking about off and on since about 1999. It was at that time, when I was working at the Strand Bookstore, that I acquired a copy of Your Handwriting Can Change Your Life by Vimala Rodgers.

Yes, handwriting analysis, or graphology, may well be the worst kind of pseudo-science (though certainly trumped by astrology and phrenology); however, I do find it an interesting construct when considered as a metaphorical extension of Freud’s “superego” (Not his actual superego! His idea of it. (Furthermore, don’t jump to the conclusion that I habitually turn to Freud for useful commentary on human emotional structures. It’s an occasional turning, to be sure.)). In handwriting, we find one of the clearest and most cross-culturally consistent expressions of self-as-social-arbiter. Diaries aside, when one writes something, one intends for it to be legible; one is seeking to be understood, to communicate.

Given the psychic and cultural position of handwriting, what does it mean for (probably mostly Western) humanity that we are now transitioning away from handwriting entirely now, toward typing?

I hypothesize that this trend augurs a (possibly very scary) split between the self and its connection to the social world that surrounds it. How much more two-dimensional are our written communications now that they occur almost exclusively via typed text?

Perhaps other forms of expression will pick up the slack, or maybe the importance of our actual prose will come to dominate in a way that is equally expressive. Barring such creative work-arounds, though, I worry for each of our bridges between ego and superego.

The Graphological Implications of Rampant Computer Use