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Manifesto of the Lead Pencil Club

<i> We received a missive, written in pencil, from Bill Henderson, editor of The Pushcart Press, inviting the technologically disgruntled to join The Lead Pencil Club's mission to be "A Pothole on the Information Highway." The club's statement (in part) follows</i>

The god of our godless age is speed. Driven by our obsession to compete, we have embraced this electronic god with a frenzy.

Soon, blessed with Fax, Voice and E-mail, computer hookups and TVs with hundreds of channels, we won’t have to leave our lonely rooms--not to write a check, work, visit, shop, exercise, or make love (virtual reality will serve).

We won’t write letters to friends because we won’t have friends--just electronic anachronisms. Next century, nobody will know the meaning of “love,” though “self-love " may survive.

We will have raced at incredible speeds on the information superhighway to reach our final destination--Nothing.

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Our Director Emeritus, Henry David Thoreau, said it first in 1844: “We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas, but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate.”

Like Henry David Thoreau, our club is cranky. We honor provocation. We want to start an argument in the broad flapping American ear.

With Founding Director Doris Grumbach, we like to imagine that computers had “contracted a fatal illness for which there was no cure.”

Vice President Al Gore predicts that his Information Superhighway will bring people closer together, but the Club asks: Now that voice mail answers our telephone calls, are we more in touch or are we drifting further apart? Our pledges: We will avoid fax and hang up on Voice Mail. We will receive no E-Mail and send none. If our computers develop a virus, we will seek no cure. Our communications will be face to face. If direct human contact is not possible, we will write letters in our own handwriting because that handwriting is a mark of our personality.

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What’s your hurry, Al Gore? Speed Kills. Where’s the Fire? Haste Makes Waste. Back To Basics. Not So Fast!

As Henry David Thoreau said, “Simplify, simplify, simplify.”

(The Lead Pencil Club may be reached at P.O. Box 380, Wainscott, N.Y. 11975.)


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