Drawing Swords

20121028-233453.jpgRecently I saw the Chinese film Hero. In the film the two main characters made a strong connection between the art of calligraphy and the skill of sword play. They said that each warrior’s calligraphy revealed what kind of swordsman they were. Jet Lee’s character, who called himself Nameless in the movie, said by having his enemy to draw him a character he could study his style of fighting and predict his movements.

This got me to thinking how close the written word is influenced by our personality or vice versa. At a calligraphy event two artists with thirty years of experience each in the industry also revealed to me a lot about their personalities through their art work. They drew before they talked and what I inferred through their drawings seemed linked with their personalities.

Lisa used untraditional letters with bright colors and did not mind overlapping letters or drawing very interpretive characters. When she spoke she was very talkative and said that she liked learning the rules so that she could break them. The vividness of her colors revealed her outspoken self before she said anything. Barbara on the other hand was much more reserved and her letters were more the traditional gothic style.

I think an interesting experiment would have been to put both behind a screen, show the drawings to the audience, and then have them guess which easel belonged to which artists. I bet the audience would guess correctly. The written word reveals as much about personality as the clothes a person wears.

Although the advances in technology have allowed artists to replicate the handwritten word, new technology does not allow for the same experience or product of the handwritten-non-digital mediums that a brush delivers on paper or fabric. I doubt that Nameless would have been able to infer the same amount of information by watching his enemy type.

Typing delivers consistency while the brush is susceptible to human folly. The digital medium corrects for the human hand, while the physical allows for defects. The defects in turn reveal variance. The variance reveals the character.

If the writing is sloppy perhaps the writer is writing quickly because they are worried or excited. If the letters have a lot of flair maybe the person is very calm and patient since such embellishment takes time. If the writing is small maybe the person is not very confident.

There is as much to be said as to how a person writes as there is to what they write much like a public speaker is aware that how their message is said is as important as what they say. Handwriting is the tone of the message. Nameless is also aware that how a man draws his words reveals a lot about how he will draw his sword.


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