Imprint and Trace

I’m currently reading “Imprint and Trace: Handwriting in the Age of Technology” by Sonja Neef, and I can recommend it highly. It’s not an easy read – but it’s wonderfully written, with not only plays on words, but on portions of words and even letters.

This evening I read a section from the book – a quote from Vilém Flusser’s “Die Schrift”.

One paints with a brush instead of chiselling in order to be able to write with less effort and faster. The speed of writing is the basic difference between inscription and ‘onscription [Inschrift and Aufschrift]. One reaches for the brush or the feature (this natural brush) in order to write, ‘featheredly’, gaining wings, as it were taking flight. Then one turns the feather round and writes with the tip of the weather in order to write even faster… From the quill pen one then reaches for faster and faster writing instruments: the ballpoint pen, the typewriter, the word processor – in other words faster and faster feathered pens. Western writers are birds of the feather. Inscriptions are painstaking, slow and therefore considered (‘miners’ = consider). ‘Onscriptions’ are writings thrown hastily onto surfaces.

If you like that last paragraph as much as I do, you should buy this book…

Addendum: I sat down this week to send Ms. Neef a quick “thank you” for writing the book. I found out that, sadly, she died in 2013 at the age of 45.

Previous Article
Next Article