What's up at Ravens March.

Vintage pens-Handmade books-Silly statements

Invisibility

Posted by Dirck on 28 January, 2010

In a recent installment, the Penquod’s owner-aboard noted that he has fulfilled a longstanding ambition and bought a proper hat, and was subsequently worried that his might undo his longstanding pursuit of anonymous background-blending. An appendix to today’s episode shows some foundation to his worries.

I want to put his mind at rest. Adopting a hat is a long-standing part of becoming invisible– even H.G. Wells knew it:

He was wrapped up from head to foot, and the brim of his soft felt hat hid every inch of his face but the shiny tip of his nose;

The thing is that most people when presented with something outside their common experience will choose to ignore it. The same sort of unconscious yet willful blindness that leads folks to step across a body, supporting the maneuver on the head of a kneeling paramedic, renders most people insensible of things like nice hats.

There are some folks who will be able to penetrate this cloak. As The Inkanthropist discovers, the majority of these are simpletons who overcome the problem by simple dint of having no subconscious– all their resources are at the top of consciousness, working madly to keep them from wandering off piers or eating light bulbs. There are a very few other observant souls who actually attend to what is in front of them and have the wit to comprehend it, although they’re generally too shy if not fictional to pass along a comment.

The same effect prevents people from noticing fountain pens, I’m sure. Yesterday, for the first time in an age, someone commented on the pen I was using– the lady at a customer service desk in a store where I was returning something. I’m pretty sure that the fact that most of the pen is of modern design allowed her to step around the usual veil which seems to descend every time I’m waving a pen around in public. Had it been the pen of either of the previous two days, each much more striking but also much more obviously anachronistic, I have no doubt I wouldn’t have heard the admiring coo.

I’m sure this will persist until, if the current apparent trend for a return to hattedness continues, there’s noting noteworthy about having a decent lid while walking out. Invisibility becomes flock-anonymity once again.

Today’s hard-to-spot pen: Waterman Citation
Today’s sneaky ink: Noodler’s Van Gogh Starry Night (it is sneaky, too– you’d hardly believe it was a blue ink rather than a black one)

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