Monday, September 19, 2005

Handwriting analysis baby!

A reader questions Bush's bathroom break note (which I am extremely surprised has not been termed "Weegate" or some such) for its veering between upper and lower case.

Now it might seem wrong to mock a man for needing to go to the loo - and having been born with a tiny bladder myself, i would never do that - but it is not wrong to mock his handwriting. Ok, ok, the circumstances may have leant ‘urgency’ to his note, but that’s no excuse.

Having once read a book about ‘graphology’ (yeah, it’s a real ology), i feel well qualified to pontificate on this subject. The most striking thing about Bush’s handwriting is the lapse into capitals. Now, this could mean he’s illiterate - and certain sectors would have you think that reading and writing are a problem for a man who can’t be trusted to eat a pretzel or ride a bike - or it could mean he doesn’t care. Flouting the rules of ‘normal’ handwriting, whether it be using weird margins, writing all in capitals or whatever - indicates either ignorance or contempt of those rules.

The man’s had the finest education money can buy, so let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he’s not doing it through stupidity.

So why use capitals? Handwriting analysts believe that normal handwriting has three ‘zones’ - upper (tops of h, t, l etc), middle and lower (bottom of g, j etc) which correspond respectively to the Freudian models of superego, ego and id. Hence, they claim, egotistical bodybuilders (and children) have very middle-heavy writing, whereas intellectuals (and drug takers) have pronounced upper zones. Heavy lower zones indicate you’re a randy bastard, and twisted lower zones show you’re a pervert. All well and good.

So if you decide to opt out of giving your handwriting these zones, you are trying to give less away. Oddly enough, writing in capitals is found more often among men (whose handwriting is often worse than women’s, due to their having less developed fine motor skills in childhood, when handwriting is taught). It’s perceived as odd by graphologists because it’s so cumbersome, unwielding and slow - not an effective way to communicate, which is what handwriting is all about.

So what does Bush’s use of capitals in just that phrase “MAY NEED A BATHROOM BREAK” mean? Buggered if I know. Perhaps he doesn’t want to give away the reason he needs one (a heavy curry the night before?). Or perhaps he’s naturally clamming up in reaction to having to tell Dr Condeeeeleeeza Rice that he needs to go wee-wee. He knows she’s going to tell him he should have gone before they started.

by way of comparison, i offer you this sample of the Blair Bear's handwriting, from a letter he wrote to the Mirror before the 2005 General Election. In my humble opinion, he's got girl's handwriting. But the other key points are:

  • upward slanted lines revealing determination and optimism
  • gentle forward slant revealing a controllably passionate nature
  • One slightly worrying feature - the big gap between "keep going forward with... Labour". Indicates a pause: "who are my party again?" Then again, I wouldn't like to say it's significant as this is hardly likely to be an off the cuff note. Maybe he just couldn't read Alistair Campbell's handwriting.


    Of course, the other strange thing about Bush's handwriting is that it changes so much. this article from the Baltimore Sun shows how different samples can give you the impression that Bush is the nearest thing to Mother Teresa not in a sari, or Beelzebub's own protege. Of course, having lots of different handwritings is like having lots of different voices: very bad news. And look at that signature! Your signature is supposed to say, 'this is me'. His says 'ggwbe'.


    another bush handwriting link: from the guardian. Extra points to them for avoiding the obvious 'leak' pun and going for the more intellectual 'sign from a bursting Bush'. ho ho.

    the bit where i read all the papers so you don't have to:
  • The Grapple in the Big Apple between Christopher Hitchens, my favourite drink-sodden former Trotskyite popinjay, and George Galloway, a complete twat.
  • generic broadsheet hangwringing article about Kate Moss's drug use.
  • my new favourite tabloid columnist, Brian Reade of the Mirror.
  • my favourite broadsheet columnist (probably) James May, talking about the Rolls Royce. The textual equivalent of a cup of tea and a biscuit.


    Blogger one-step-removed said...

    Well, I wasn't quite "mocking" his handwriting, nor trotting out the usual "Bush is moronic" cliches. And I'd certainly never do that if someone wrote in block capitals.

    Bush, however, doesn't. He indiscriminately switches between capitals and lower case. That's my beef. In fact, a rough transcription of his note would be this:

    I thiNk I MAy NEED A BATHrooM break?

    In a hurry? Perhaps. But look how he deliberately and laboriously adds the crossbars for the I-s. Look at the spaces between letters. Look too at those heavy pencil strokes. And the lack of discrimination as to which letters are upper and(e.g. B followed by b) is, I'm afraid, a childish practice.

    We can read too much into this. But my exact comment was "Clearly a man who doesn't do too much writing." It's a long time since Bush went to Yale. Given what we know of Bush's work practices, and the scattered reports of how much of the workload of the presidency is delegated to Cheney, I think that probably stands.

    9/19/2005 3:27 pm  
    Blogger galatea said...

    fair enough. i'll change it.

    9/20/2005 9:12 am  
    Blogger galatea said...

    i didn't mean that you were 'mocking' his handwriting - i was talking about the newspaper pieces, all of which took the opportunity to chortle about him needing a note to ask permission to go to the loo, and making much merriment of words such as 'leak'.

    And I quite agree, Bush certainly isn't moronic, although his handwriting might suggest otherwise.

    sorry for the confusion.

    9/20/2005 9:17 am  
    Anonymous Signature forgery said...

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    3/18/2011 1:59 pm  

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