Saturday, September 22, 2012

Gone is the old-world charm

I have mentioned before that I have been keeping a diary since I was 7.  These days, my diary is a daily record that I type and store in a secret blog that only I have access to.  It is not that there is anything interesting in my diary or there is anything worth keeping a secret about and I don't think I mind making it public except that it does seem odd if anyone can check to see what I did at any point in time in my life.  Why then do I keep a diary?  I hardly ever read my old diaries in the first place.

But I do sometimes read them.  Just yesterday, I saw on youtube a clarinet flash mob in a quaint little town in Austria and I was fairly certain I had been there.  I searched through my electronic diaries but that was the time when my travel diaries were all handwritten (it was a pre-iPad pre-iPhone era).  I was certain that my travel diaries were kept with my old handwritten diaries but I found that there were many missing volumes.  In the end, I looked through my photo album in my hard disk and realized that the town I had been to in Austria was a town some 50km from the one featured on youtube.  That only goes to confirm what I have felt all along - that photographs are probably the best record of one's life.

While searching through my old diaries, I saw a small diary that contained entries made in the last few months of 1995.  I ended the year with a little summary of what I thought of that year and here are two photographs of the last paragraph placed next to each other:

I am delighted to see that my handwriting was much more beautiful than I had given myself credit for.  I recall the days I would fill my pen with ink and write the entry for that day.  Of course the process of writing these days is a lot faster. You don't need to fill up the pen with ink from a bottle and there's that wonderful copy and paste facility for words and phrases that you need to repeat in a diary but there is a cost to all this.  The old-world charm is gone.  Beautiful handwriting is an art form and I know I can derive much pleasure just from looking at it.  Children these days have awful handwriting and I'm sure the computer is very much to blame for this. 

The other thing that seems to have gone with the last century is the use of religious language.  People don't make such overt references to God these days and "God" is normally used only in expletives.

Do I really want to turn the clock back and write my diary by hand as I used to?  Of course not.  Once we have tasted the fruit of progress and modernity, we may look back at our old ways with fondness but a regression to our former state isn't something most of us find attractive.  The benefits of using the computer are just overwhelming.

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