1. The basic requirement for spontaneity: the Fluid sign

The concept of spontaneity is given by the Fluid sign which indicates the free expressive movement. In many respects we find ourselves dealing with the most important sign in the category of signs under examination here, that of movement, because it is literally a divide: by starting from it we can access greater expressive speed, given that spontaneity is a movement that can be easily subject to acceleration; while without it we have an inhibited, or rather slowed down, movement, though the reasons behind this slowing down can vary greatly.

The importance of the Fluid sign in the Morettian system is also due to the fact that we find it as a basic requirement in many graphological signs, without this presence being formally expressed. We just have to think of the Curved sign, indicator of the altruistic sentiment capable of interrelating, the C Angle sign, indicator of savoir faire capable of manipulating others without them noticing, and the Sinuous sign, indicator of the ability to insinuate gently into the minds of others: none of these signs can keep its main meaning without drawing extensively on the spontaneity expressed by the Fluid sign, which constitutes the raw material from which they are worked.

According to Moretti’s definition “fluid handwriting is that which proceeds without any kind of stops” (8), with obvious reference to continuity of movement, thus any disconnection lowers the value of the sign. The main meaning is that “of naturalness and spontaneity in everything, so that the outside corresponds to the inside.” (9)

Fig. 3 – Fluid handwriting: Maria Callas

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The key image chosen by Moretti to define the concept of spontaneity is that of flowing water, not flowing like a mountain stream, in an impetuous movement, nor like water forced to flow through a pipe and therefore contained, but like “a river that flows through a plain, this is the symbol of spontaneity” (10). The underlying consideration is the following: “The person who is driven by impulse or held back by a check does not act spontaneously when this impulse and this check represent discontinuous forces.” (11) In other words, spontaneity is hindered by excessive speed, because haste does not permit complete expression of one’s innerness, and by the presence of any inhibitions, which in some way make the expressive movement awkward or distorted. The awkward movement is, for example, that connected to the Hesitant sign, because it expresses unresolved doubt. Among the distortions we can list: emotion that halts the gaze on some parts of reality to the detriment of others (which can be inferred by the presence of the Off-and-On Carved II sign), the heaviness of the hand that slows down the movement owing to the excessive need to be anchored to materiality (Marked), and the angle which creates a defensive arrest. While the image of the river running through a plain suggests the full expression of one’s interiority in a unified movement, able to reach the destination by going around obstacles.

Fig. 4 – Above average Fluid sign: the actress Kathleen Turner

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As we can see in the above example, the Fluid sign reaches its highest level when it is able to create a continuous movement without angles and an even pressure unencumbered by emotions or impositions. In this respect Moretti specifies the following constituent criteria of the sign: “The more fluid the handwriting, the more the letters have the same slant. All signs that indicate arrest, obstruction or contortion decrease fluid’s intensity.” (12)

The Fluid sign, for all the reasons indicated above, ties in perfectly with the Curved sign, and indicates a personality capable of benevolent adaptions, given that the combination excludes any form of psychic compression, accumulation of resentment or frustrations deriving from the inability to dissolve inner doubts.

The sign is classified as accidental since spontaneity is silent about the substance of the qualities it expresses, and only says something about the way the Self manifests itself and relates with others. However, although accidental, the sign contains important extensions of meaning, which make it a key indicator in the formulation of the whole personality analysis.

The first implication connected with the Fluid sign is that spontaneity, by definition, is able to connect effortlessly with the external world, in a relationship movement that implies free self-expression but also listening to what comes from outside. In this sense we can speak about sensitivity, namely the ability to grasp anyone’s mood, through the spontaneous adhesion of sentiment, because it is an “indicator of perception and rapid intuition, of intellectual and emotional naturalness and spontaneity, of memory aimed at retaining what has been perceived. It is also an indicator of attention.” (13) Focus, in this context, means only the ability to spontaneously connect with what is happening outside; for example, a pupil focuses on what she is taught without having to exert any effort to concentrate, although, for reasons we shall see later, this spontaneous movement does not necessarily imply keeping what she has heard in her memory.

The second meaning is related to the ability to adapt. Since this is a key concept in the interpretation of the Fluid sign, it is necessary to specify the psychological implications exactly, since it should not be understood as being satisfied with what life offers without expecting more, or as an apparent surrender before manipulating the circumstances to one’s own advantage. These are extensions that may be applicable in certain contexts, but in the purity of its movement adaption is understood as the natural result of spontaneity: the Self, being able to express itself freely at all times, responds with a natural instinctive movement of approach if it likes the situation and with an equally instinctive movement of avoidance if it does not. This meaning can be generalised in all handwriting with the Fluid sign: the softness of the movement is made possible by the fact that the personality does not have great truths to throw into someone’s face, because it understands the human condition, and it has no accumulations of resentment necessitating a settling of scores, because these can derive only from instinctive movements that have been previously repressed. So the Self adapts, in the sense that it always responds in the here and now, with a movement which is appropriate for the situation in hand. As Moretti states, “We can say that it does not tend towards introversion or extroversion, because it adopts and is given to extroversion or introversion where it sees the necessity, usefulness and convenience.” (14)

The third meaning is connected to ease, understood on the psychological level as “naturalness of thought, of sentiment” (15), and on the physical level as “looseness of limbs” (16). Agility, a necessary condition for ease, is a characteristic which runs through all levels of being, including the physical level, so even the body maintains a certain grace of movement and leanness of muscle structure over the years.

Fig. 5 – Above average Fluid sign

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The fourth meaning is connected with a natural tendency towards synthesis: “It is the sign of amiability, unification, homogenisation of heterogeneous means, simplification” (17), because by taking heed of others, thanks to that sensitivity described above, it immediately grasps what is truly important for the individual before it, and what it can ignore, in a movement that does not rouse others’ defences because it is always amiable. For all these reasons the Fluid sign “is the sign of malleability, the disposition towards reaching out in conciliation, of the devising of simple means in order to achieve an end.” (18)

Although, as we have seen, this is a very important sign for defining the personality framework, it should be specified that its actual value can be set only by evaluating the context it belongs to. A little like in the case of the Letter Width sign, which in order to indicate intellectual profundity has to be supported by other signs otherwise we only have a potential waiting to manifest itself, here the risk of making a mistake in interpretation is just as great. Indeed, even spontaneity, malleability and ease, though undoubtedly talents, need inner corrections otherwise they risk leading, by themselves, to a personality which is not very connected to the reality of life.

How does this reversal of meaning occur?

The psychological reasoning behind this is that life, as such, is an experience that acquires intensity due to the ability to connect properly with the material plane. The individual evolutionary process, moreover, is largely based on the ability to make mistakes and recognise one’s errors, to accept that at times a clash of contrary opinions is necessary, the need to isolate oneself in order to give birth to something new or to stop when we understand that we are in a stalemate. All these torments are precisely that part of life that the Fluid sign, if present to a high degree, shrinks from. Therefore, the risk is that of focusing on the world of words at the expense of reality, because only on the verbal plane can one always dodge obstacles, while matter is not as malleable. The great danger, associated with the presence of an exaggerated degree of Fluid sign, is given by the poor capacity to root oneself to the ground, displaying a preference for the world of sentiments, or abstract discourses, because both appear more plastic, since they more easily accept simplifications, whether of the heart or mind, or omissions, at least until that material part of life that has not been adequately taken account of presents its bill.

The high degree of Fluid sign (9-10/10), attributable when the graphical movement has no arrests, wherever they may come from (disconnections, angles, slight jerkiness, hesitations or contortions), is difficult to find in practice. In principle, it indicates great spontaneity, but it makes sentiment and thought inconsistent because of the escape from any type of substantial confrontation with reality.

Fig. 6 – Fluid is an indicator of sentiment tending towards fatuousness (Male, aged 19)

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In general, the quantification of the Fluid sign proceeds in this direction: firstly, since it is in direct opposition to the Jerky sign, it decreases proportionally when the latter is present. Furthermore, the value of the sign is further decreased by the presence of any sign indicating arrest, obstruction or contortion.

Hypothetically, a continuous movement without angles can bring the sign’s value to 10/10. This is, however, an undesirable value because – for reasons already specified in detail – it is absolutely necessary to have some stopping signs, which indicate the ability of the Self to dwell on the invalidation from the real world, without attempting to soften them. For this reason Moretti states that those people with a strong Fluid sign “focus on what affects them, but this attention is fleeting, short-lived, and is not aimed at all aspects of the issues under examination. They can therefore be guilty of carelessness, approximation and superficiality.” (19) Luisetto also often emphasised the fact that an excess of fluidity entails a little sloppiness of thinking and indifference in sentiment.

In a graphical context indicating a good intellectual level, Fluid always brings a fecundity of thought and a good ability to express the same. “Intelligence with fluidity acquires that malleability which is as envied as it is enviable. When speaking fluidity enthralls the audience … Fluidity has the spontaneity that also brings with it effectiveness of action, without it having to beg left and right, as occurs for non-fluid intelligence.”  (20)

Without a specific disposition towards originality (below average Methodically Uneven) the Fluid sign with a Spacing between Words of at least 5/10 favours eclecticism, owing to the great capacity for assimilation and tendency towards synthesis, typical characteristics of the sign. While a high degree of Fluid with a Spacing between Words under 4/10 generates carelessness, superficiality, tendency towards dispersion, capacity to talk for hours without saying anything; in some contexts it “indicates a tendency towards invasion” (21).

The Fluid sign’s play on merits and flaws is very effectively summarised by Moretti with this qualification: “Those with fluid handwriting have a lot of spontaneity of speech and action so that they easily enter friendliness and therefore the sign is estimated even higher than it is valued. They have the tendency to welcome the excess of this estimation and play on it astutely…” (22), and what its absence entails is also effectively summarised: “The lack of Fluid (and Connected) gives a certain fastidiousness that damages spontaneity and active comprehension.” (23) 

This is a continuous duel between the description of the wonders that belong to the Fluid sign, namely spontaneity in all its forms, and the having to admit that spontaneity alone does not have the power to bring out the truth, whether individual or collective, because to do this we also need friction, resistance as well as the capacity to say no and to stir up trouble, namely all those stopping movements that come from its psychic opposite, represented by the Jerky sign.