Thursday in Santa Fe

02010-03-11 | Uncategorized | 6 comments

Matt Callahan commented on March 11th, 2010 at 10:56:

I never cared for the look of my own cursive writing and stopped as soon as soon as the teachers permitted it (say around seventh grade). I’ve written in my own form of all capitals since then. I think the biggest problem I had with cursive was the fact that everyone’s writing had to look the same. Teaching methods allowed no room for an individual style while staying within the boundaries of recognition (A T didn’t look like an F).

My youngest daughter wants to learn to write in cursive but it’s not yet part of the curriculum. She practices at home and will ask me for help from time to time. I have to really rack my brain to remember how the letters are formed.

Well Matt, I am glad you are not building a house for me, because you might be tempted to express your individuality through placing bricks vertically as well as horizontally, on their side, sticking out diagonally and so on. :-)

I think of cursive letters, or any letters for that matter, as building blocks similar to those bricks. Letters and the resulting words are the building blocks of language. We need to agree on them in order for communication to happen. If one person should decide to call a tree a table, a table a cup and a cup a tree and so on, well, communication would be difficult and strenuous, if not impossible.

In my opinion, individuality expresses itself in the content that the letters represent. Letters combine to form words, words form sentences and sentences hopefully create meaning and poetry. More importantly, I believe that individuality develops over time. Two seeds from the same tree, planted in different geographical regions will produce vastly different trees – over time. I think the modern Western world entered a horrible dead end street when we started putting so much emphasis on individuality and personal expression sometime in the middle of the last century.

I applaud your daughters desire to develop a nice hand and for that reason I uploaded a sheet of my father’s handwriting. Ottokar could write at least half a dozen fonts by hand and had the most beautiful handwriting I have seen. The scan of his writing out every letter (((I asked him for this when my son was born and he was ninety when he wrote this))) has helped me a great deal, although I prefer the old German lower case z, and still find both X and x hard to write with any kind of speed. If you click on the image below, downloading of the fullsized scan is initiated. If you can’t find it on your computer, search for “Ottokar-Hand-Lg.jpg”.

It is possible that American cursive is a bit different here and there, but that sheet should get you started.

Thomas Faes commented on March 11th, 2010 at 11:02:

Piano on guitar is dull, yes. Purity should be the way. I think our organic system yearns for that. Sublime music (Italian 17th century music does that for me the most) can be like medicine, that brings clarity to the chaotic minds of the listeners today.

In 21 century we should work deeper into, and with, the fabric of the pure elements we can find, than mash everything up in the name of a, often overrated, artistic phantasy.

Nice put Thomas. Thanks!

Twenty years ago this month we had a record release party at the Eldorado Hotel in Santa Fe, for NF. The Santa Feans really came in out support that evening and the maximum allowed capacity of the room (((about 750 if I remember correctly))) was quickly reached. The hotel had to place employees by the elevator, at the main entrance and in the parking garage to turn people away.

Anyway, a Santa Fe musician sat in with us, as we performed the music from the album. He was a saxophonist and in addition to his horn he had brought one of those Yamaha electronic horns – the name of those blasted things escapes me right now. You should have seen the poisened looks he received from the whole band, when he started playing a nylon string guitar sample with his horn. He probably thought it was funny or clever, or maybe he actually liked the sound (((impossible!))).


  1. yumi,9171,1912419,00.html

    In using a brush and ink, even one single stroke used in kanji character has a name. Nothing is chance and there is no advancement to make in ranking without mastery. Style is based on the strength of the discipline involved even within schools. Training gives the eye/mind the ability to recognize the degrees of the quality of the composition in another and ability to execute a movement at any given moment with desire intensity.

  2. yumi

    a cursive p.s. :

    My father grew up in both Japan and U.S. Although he would be the first to embrace technology/new ideas and was a very forward thinker, he would spend his free time practicing writing in both English and Japanese. The reason? He used to say that you can go to the best schools, have the most money, be the best looking, but if the way you wrote or even held your pen did not have beauty and refinement, then everything else vanishes.

  3. Matthew

    I agree with the problem of individualism. We have something to learn from cultures with stronger social connections.

  4. marijose

    Thanks for sharing your father’s beautiful handwriting. I learned a very similar handwriting style growing up in Spain; the capital H and Z were so difficult to master. I never mastered US cursive writing because the font is more slanted. Nevertheless, I’m told my print-writing is very legible, which might have more to do with my OCD tendencies.

    Matt, not sure if might have already come across these handwriting lessons from the International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers, and Teachers of Handwriting: . I love the Spencerian script and the artwork.

  5. Brenda

    Matt, for teaching children at home there is which has resource materials. Zaner Bloser is the style and pen that I learned to write cursive in our public USA school. Practicing on proper lined mid-point paper is very helpful plus if Dad rewards with stickers and posts on the refrigerator for smiles it is always positive. Wonderful when Dad’s nurture there children, good for you and Ottmar.

  6. Carol

    Your father’s writing was beautiful. I have examples of my ancestor writing and it was very similiar to the others of that the same era, more ‘flowery’ and lovely
    As a teacher for so many years we have had various “proper” handwriting taught. The Palmer method was for many years the only right one I remember the teach showing how to do the o spirals and zigzags
    with her arm on the desk. For her it was easy. My arms were too skinny .
    Then they came up with one that was an easier transition from manuscript. Zaner Bloser, as Brenda mentions.
    I see many places on the net you can go for practice sheets, etc.
    I love the net!


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