Saturday, September 05, 2015

Pen Fetishes

This was a recent NY Times article about the total fetishization of a disposable pen. Reminded me of my own obsession. In high school, it was the pilot precise rollerballs. In an era when the US was still in the dark ages of Bic ballpoints (although admittedly, I had a period of obsessing over the proltarian simplicity of the classic pointy tipped Bic) the pilot was one of the first japanese imports. I remember how the ink rolled out link silk over butter. It wasn't practical. It totally bled through thin paper, and the ink well totally exploded in my pocket many times but I loved how easily words rolled out of it, without any friction to impede the flow of thoughts. How neat my equations were in my math proofs. I remember seeing other people using the Pilot in public places. We would give each other a small nod, acknowledging membership in that sacred club.

In college, practicality made me adopt the Bic 0.7mm (must be the thicker one, my ideas demanded thick dark lines), disposable mechanic pencil. Disposable was a must. All the fancy gift pens and pencils were quickly lost.

My last obsession in grad school was picked up during one of the many conferences in Europe. The German Staedtler fineliner. The many colors made the many yellow pads of proofs for my dissertation a delightful rainbow of hues.

The pen used to be such a sacred part of my EDC (Every day carry). I was always the kid in elementary school everyone asked to borrow a pen from. So its odd these days, I rarely have a pen on me at all. Even in my office, I have to dig for it when a student needs something signed. And all those forms will go digital sometime soon.

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