Grave frettage!

Over the past 24 hours I have acquired what appears to be carpal tunnel syndrome in my right hand: numbness, sharp, shooting pains, the whole bit. My current state led me to wonder.. what will become of me if I can’t type?

This brought me to George Perec’s masterpiece, La Disparition (“The Void”), a French novel written in entirety without the vowel e, and subsequently translated into English by Gilbert Adair, also avoiding e‘s. A short excerpt can be found here.

So of course I began trying to write using only the words available to my left hand. After about 10 minutes of complete frustration, I realized that Perec’s book was cake compared to this task. He only gave up one letter!

In possibly my last act as a two-handed typist, I wrote a perl script to parse an English word list into left-handed words, to help me in my new life. While I was at it, I went ahead and made the right hand version as well (for those with the opposite strain infliction). As it turns out, it’s much better to lose the left than the right:

carpal tunnel lefty’s dictionary (2061 words)

carpal tunnel righty’s dictionary (517 words)

7 thoughts on “Grave frettage!

  1. Best of luck, Cameron, aching arms are no joke.

    What worked for me (and I’m afraid you’ll get a lot of “this worked for me” if your wrist keeps hurting. Also a lot of “this didn’t work for me” and “I’ve been off work for four months”) was figuring out that my arm hurt because of much more than just too much typing. For me it was a more acceptable escape route than admitting I was terrified of finishing my PhD. People (including me) handle “I have Carpal Tunnel” much better than “I’m scared I’ll have a breakdown and that I can’t handle another minuite at this university without screaming”. After weeks of physcial therapy doing absolutely no good I took Alexander technique lessons, which are about the way you use your whole body and which refuse to separate body and mind, and that’s really helped me.

    Of course just cos I think my RSI/Carpal tunnel was emotional as much as physical doesn’t mean yours is. But whatever’s causing the pain: take it seriously. Take that pain as a warning from your body and perhaps your mind and emotions too that you need to do something(s) differently.

    Best of luck. (And good on you with the left handed stuff 😉

  2. at least you don’t have lung cancer. that is what did in george perec. he was only 45.

    if you were living in new york this little project would be considered new media art.

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