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But a pen is a simple thing, isn't it?
It doesn't have a battery or a motherboard.
It doesn't require a service plan or a satellite orbiting the Earth
in order to function.
It's never smarter than you are, which I like.
And if you were to drop it in water,
or any distance higher than your own knee on a hard surface,
it would not be destroyed.
In fact, purchasing an insurance plan for it
would be, well, silly, and slightly ridiculous.
Yet, this simple pen has shaped the very world in which we live.
It has recorded the discoveries of scientists and inventors.
It has charted the course for nearly every explorer
who has braved the open ocean or explored the vast terrain.
Wars have begun and ended at its wave
and the doctrine of nearly every one of the world's religions
was inscribed at its tip.
It has recorded the genius of composers and artists alike,
and more lovers have succumb at its tip than any of Cupid's arrows.
You see, more than a pen, this is a vital part of our humanity.
It is the facilitator to genius, the strongest weapon in war time,
the baton passed from one generation to the next,
the needle on the Richter scale of our hearts,
and the connection between God and man.
Yet, for the first time in history,
the value of this amazing tool hangs in the balance.
With 41 out of 50 states no longer requiring handwriting
to be a fundamental part of their curriculum,
like everything else in our culture,
we declare its value by what we teach or do not teach our children.
Yet I stand before you today not only as an advocate for the pen,
but as your advocate as well,
for while the hand empowers the pen, the pen empowers the man.
So empower yourselves today and write this down.
Use this and you will develop not one but three forms of literacy.
The first form of literacy is that of historical literacy.
You see, we have a vast chronology of handwriting
because man has been writing by hand for literally thousands of years.
In every culture, time period, and nation has had its own form of handwriting,
and they are each as unique as one individual's is to another's.
I could regale you with a vast background on each one of these forms,
but let me bring things a little closer to home
and bring you more quickly up to speed.
This is America's first style of penmanship
and the forefather of cursive.
It is called Spencerian script, created by Platt Rogers Spencer
in the middle of the 19th century when he was only 13 years old.
Not only did this boy create
one of the most dynamic forms of penmanship known to man
he also had a beautiful philosophy and even theology behind his handwriting.
You see, he believed that God, being the originator of all beauty,
had instilled his beauty in nature,
so if Spencer could take his cues from nature,
then he would have the beauty of God in his own handwriting.
Not bad for a 13 year old.
So, this is one of the pieces that I did,
not only as a nod to Spencerian script
but to show the place from which it was inspired.
He was inspired by the flowing lines he saw in the streams by his house,
the gentle lean of the wheat blowing in the wind,
and the rolling clouds over mountain peaks.
Spencer's form was not only genius in its appearance,
but it was a thing of brilliance in function as well.
You see, today,
the way that we typically write is we plant our palm on the side of our hand,
and we use a whole variety of horrible pen grips,
and we write using mainly finger movement.
This puts stress on all of the smallest joints, muscles, tendons,
and in the end, it results in what we know as writer's cramp.
Back in the day, Platt Rogers Spencer devised
that his handwriting should be written with the knuckles up towards the ceiling
using muscular movement, which is movement at the wrist,
and whole arm movement for those larger graceful curves,
so you could write all day long and never get writer's cramp.
There were others that followed in Spencer's pen-strokes.
This is Louis Madarasz,
regarded as the greatest ornamental penman who ever lived.
He built on Spencer's fundamental form
to bring us some of the most dynamic scripts known to man,
one of which is said to have inspired the Coca-Cola logo,
one of the longest standing, most dynamic logos of all times.
Or this man, F.B. Courtney, the pen wizard,
so-called because of the magic created at the tip of his pen.
It was said that Courtney, whenever he taught,
would go into a room and fill a chalkboard with museum-worthy flourishing and script,
and then, at the end, he would take a piece of chalk in each hand,
stand at the chalkboard and sign his name simultaneously in opposite directions
as if conducting an orchestra.
Now I know what you're saying, "Jake, this is all well and good,
but I'm afraid my penmanship has sailed and sunk."
"I write in chicken scratch."
"I'm sorry, I was just not born
with the natural facilities that these masters were."
Well, let me encourage you a bit,
and possibly make you feel worse about yourself.
This is J.C. Ryan, the handless penman.
He was a man born without hands who made his living in penmanship.
Any more excuses?
You see, these are the heroes of our past,
these are the builders of our handwriting heritage.
Newton said we only reach great heights "by standing on the shoulders of giants".
I tell you that my hand only moves so gracefully
because I have rehearsed the strokes of masters.
Use this and you will develop intellectual literacy.
In college, I actually got my degree in psychology,
largely because I did not think I was going to make it as an artist.
Of course, I practiced my artwork and my handwriting incessantly,
so much so that I gained a reputation among my professors
who were handing around my essay tests
saying that they looked like the Declaration of Independence.
Well, in one psychology course,
which was Cognitive Psychology,
we actually studied how handwriting helped develop the brain.
I took copious and beautiful notes.
And what we discovered when we studied this
was that during the different tactile movements of doing handwriting,
the brain is actually engaged in more areas,
and the information is engrained into the brain.
The same was not found to be true with typing, however,
which does not involve the same type of differential tactile movement.
Handwriting was also found to be incredibly helpful in small children
who were learning to read, because by forming the individual letters,
they had a deeper understanding of the anatomy of each one
and were therefore able to recognize it when it came time to read it on the page.
Moreover, cursive was found to be even more beneficial to the brain.
Researchers and scientists have done brain scans on children learning cursive
and found that the different parts of the brain which are engaged
are similar to those adults typically use when writing and doing higher reasoning.
The screen went blank when the kids were typing
because it didn't involve the same type of tactile movement.
So, let me point out the fact
that not only has technology brought us this amazing information,
but in this case, it stands as the champion of handwriting.
One thing we need to stop doing
is putting technology and handwriting in opposing corners.
People often assume that with my old ideals and ancient art forms
that I am somehow stuck in the past, and therefore, I must hate technology.
Let me assure you, I do not hate technology.
In fact, I am a proud Apple user.
I have an iPhone, iPad, iMac, Macbook.
I have my own website, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts
and I drive around in a horseless carriage like everybody else,
so don't try and tell me that I'm stuck in the past.
Beyond acknowledging the fact that we are in a modern age,
I do believe that typing is a very fundamental tool
that children do need to learn.
However, they should not be learning it at the expense of handwriting.
Thank you.
You see, schools are leaning all the time more and more so on technology
to help move kids down the conveyor belt of the educational system,
but what we need to do is be a good steward of both
and listen to what our technology is telling us
and pick up the pen and keep writing.
You see it is not technology that is the direct enemy of the pen,
it is our dependency on technology.
The greater we grow our dependency on technology,
what we may soon find is that we've created
the most technologically advanced way of creating illiteracy.
Use this and you will develop creative literacy.
The handwriting is such a personal act
and is it any wonder when you can actually use
your own signature interchangeably with your finger print.
You see writing captures more than our thoughts,
it records our emotions; it even captures our personalities down on paper.
We all know the power of a handwritten note.
Ever since I was a kid, one of the first people who inspired me
to start working on my handwriting was my own mother.
She used to pack my lunch for me every day in school,
and she would always put a napkin in there with her beautiful handwriting on it.
My whole day could fall apart, I could fail the spelling test,
be picked last for kickball, and go down into a lunchroom
with a lunch lady screaming her way out of a hair net at wayward children
who were throwing milk cartons through the air like hand grenades on D-Day
and I would open up my lunch box and I would see that note
on top of my peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a bag full of Cheetos
and the whole world went still.
Some things just stick with you.
Thanks, Mom.
And so, this love for the pen was nurtured so early in life.
When I picked up my first calligraphy pen, I was disappointed at its quality
and disappointed at the general lack of available tools on the market.
So I took it upon myself to learn how to create my own pen.
I taught myself how to use the lathe
and I started shaping a whole wide variety of exotic hardwoods,
pulling out their grain,
contouring their shape perfectly to fit my pen grip.
I would also add little bits of ornament,
dynamic shape to give flare and romance to them.
Then, I would fit my own nibs,
I would mix my own ink,
until finally I was able to put pen to paper.
I have since created hundreds of pens for penmen around the world
so that the art of the pen might thrive.
Since I made my first calligraphy pen almost eight years ago,
it has marked the greatest growth spurt for me as an artist.
In 2011, I became the youngest person
to ever achieve the title of Master Penman,
and I stand with only 11 others in the world.
Thank you.
As the last requirement to become a Master Penman,
you have to make your own certificate.
Of course, right?
So here it is, this is my certificate executed on calf skin vellum.
It has six styles of calligraphy, two types of gold leaf gilding,
painting, illustration, and beyond that,
I carved the pen that I wrote it with and the frame it went in out of mahogany.
Now, those last two were not required
as part of the program,
but I wanted them to be expressed in the context of my certificate,
and I don't get out much, so...
Once I learned the discipline of this fine art,
I started incorporating it into the other mediums that I had done before,
finding that the written word gave such powerful life to my artwork.
I learned the disciplines of flourishing and the rules which govern its script
and started changing the whole world around me.
In one instance, at least, I created this two dimensional design
and got the opportunity to translate it through wood carving
into this four-foot slab of mahogany, entirely carved by hand.
Or there's this piece.
This is done with one of my handmade calligraphy pens.
It's a portrait of Christ that is done in one continuous stroke.
It's a spiral which starts at the center of his nose,
it goes outward around itself 175 times.
The line contours his face
and gets thicker and thinner to create shadow and highlight
and then, in the end, evens out to a perfect oval.
So you see, more than a form of writing or communication,
this is an art form for me.
As an artist, and as a master penman,
it is my goal to see that it lives on to see the dawn of a new generation.
But won't you join me
because as I have shown you, it is a powerful link to our past?
It is the aid to our life-long learning,
and it is the conduit through which self-expression might flourish.
May we always keep it ever close to our hearts.
Thank you very much.


【TEDx】Why write? Penmanship for the 21st Century | Jake Weidmann | TEDxMileHigh

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Andy Yang 2016 年 12 月 15 日 に公開
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