My mother practices maddeningly perfect penmanship. She has written in a classic Palmerian hand ever since elementary school, a method emphasizing regimentation, discipline and character. It's likely no coincidence that she learned this script at St. Brigid's, the grade school where she was taught the fundamentals of Roman Catholicism that she strictly follows today.

Stephen Watson is a philosophy professor at the University of Notre Dame and author of such light reads as
In the Shadow of Phenomenology and Crescent Moon over the Rational. He possesses an impeccably manicured beard. He is also an atheist.

A specific moment in his "Existential Philosophy" course years ago recently sprung to mind. Before launching an improvised excursion into Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling, he casually stated that "[T]he only remnant of the sacred in contemporary society is profanity. God dammit. Jesus Christ. Holy shit."

Elementary my dear Watson is a recollection of this enlightening moment rendered in my mother's handwriting. It brings together the spiritual and the material, the high and the low. It can be read as an industrial object, a religious invocation, an exclamation of wonder, a rote writing exercise or just an everyday curse,

Photo courtesy of Michael Kiser