Let me start this meander with something current and political.
All of my life, I have been very interested in people’s handwriting. Our writing is very revealing of who we are. In Israel, for many jobs, a sample of handwriting is a requirement. So here is what I notice about these two very different “hands.”
A graphologist recently exhibited samples of two signatures.
Donald Trump’s signature is sharply vertical. It is angular, spiky and looks like an EKG or an earthquake graph. To me, it suggests constricted meanness.
Barack Obama’s signature, by contrast, spreads horizontally, has a big round outsize B and another large O and, to my eye, represents openness and generosity.
So I will go on about hands but now reaching back in human history….
We write with our hands and although chimps and gorillas have hands similar to ours, with prehensile thumbs, they are not able to write. There have been experiments in which researchers have managed to teach chimps a rudimentary form of calligraphy, but they do not naturally express themselves in writing. It probably has something to do with the size and development of their brains. Animals use their hands or limbs to grasp, grip, build, climb, scratch, feed and groom themselves and create their habitats. Human hands “on the other hand” can build artifacts, repair clocks, crochet , play an instrument, shape pottery, perform magic tricks (sleight of hand) do complicated surgery and much more. Hands are used to point, show, drive a car and in handshaking. One area of communication in which hands play a major role is sign language.
Hands have played a huge role in art. In Dutch portrait paintings, the hands have as prominent a role as the face. There are hands that hold books, turn pages, handle coins, and pour milk from a jug. Other hands pray, curse or supplicate. Lovers hold hands. Leonardo da Vinci made numerous studies of hands, and the hand plays a major role in the Sistine Chapel painting :”The Creation of Adam.” Here it is…
I am also thinking of the “Hamsa” (also known as the hand of Fatima) symbol of a hand which wards off evil and is a symbol of good luck in many Middle Eastern cultures.
Hands have also invaded our language with expressions such as: hands off, lend a hand, hand over, hand-me-down, handyman, the handwriting on the wall, washing one’s hands of something and much more.
Writing something by hand (the way my blogs usually begin) helps one’s thinking. Taking manual notes helps in remembering since body and brain work together. (hand in hand?).
But for now, to hands, we wave goodbye.