Wednesday, May 08, 2013


I don't feel all that Jurassic, but archaeologists are already digging up relics from after I was born, a time shrouded in the mists of history along with my early playmates the Neanderthals and other formerly youthful individuals, including for example Julius, Marc and Cleo, with whom I am now aggregate, though I didn't know any of them very well until fifth grade or so. I entered this world in - let me adjust my stone calendar to Julian - 1940CE, not long after the ice age that followed the late Pleistocene, which comprised my school years. 

My eyes still work, so I was just reading the news on one of these newfangled computers, it uses what they call "real time," to differentiate it from the other kind. It was saying how some archaeologist - a field that started before I was born, believe it or not - had found items from a tragic fire of long ago, greenhorn readers apparently having to turn their mindclocks nearly all the way back to WWII to realize the chronospan involved: archaeological artifacts from - which archaic period is that? The 1940s? - Wait, was there time then? 

Yes, grasshopper, there was; we had hourglasses to prove it. And I was there, already walking and talking in the early language of those days, the archaic one spoken by Whitman, Melville, Twain, Fitzgerald, Mencken et al., famous paleoauthors of whom (or is it all-the-way 'who' now?) you may have heard. By that time I was going to school, a fairly recent phenomenon, where they had stringent language and grammar requirements and taught handwriting - perhaps you've heard of cursive? 

We practiced the Palmer Method (crucial for careers and professional respect in a world now archaeological) with a "nibbed" pen dipped into "ink" in an "inkwell" that was inset into our wooden "desktops" (the original kind). The inkwell had a little sliding cover and was fashioned entirely from slate, of all things. Plastic was just becoming a word. Nibbed pen calligraphy was so much more elegant than ballpoint is; the concept of elegance, like history itself, has lost quite a bit of steam (an old idiom) and relativity since Archimedes and I first played marbles together, back in the good old days.

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