Loss of vocabulary; loss of words and language; loss of what seems like the formerly relied upon ability to rapidly retrieve information from the treasure trove of a voracious reader’s mind – all of these micro-losses, and more I’m sure I’ll discover – I am chalking up as the result of saturating myself in the digital sphere intermediated by this screen for far too long as the primary and often, the only, source of information.
In retaliation, I have recently invested in books like the Larousse Encyclopaedia of Mythology, and their Encyclopaedia of Archeology; McLuhan’s Design Probes; an Introduction to Anthropology; and a plethora of vocabulary dense novels such as Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayer whose style and sentence structure from almost a century ago are forcing me to pause and think and derive the meanings of the words from their context of use.
For someone who was taught English and English Literature by a student of Ted Hughes, garnering straight A’s in the now obsolete GCE O Levels from London University, these are the losses I regret the most and I am unable to reconcile myself to the gaps they are leaving in my ability to compose or summarize succinctly smoothly and without pauses to ponder. My mind’s eye goes blank, incapable of visualizing even the old tools of cognitive retrieval that I’d developed over the past 5 decades of reading and writing.
Therefore, in parallel to this digital writing on thinking and feeling, I have begun doing the same with my fountain pen, using ink again, on paper, with my hand.