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Archive for March 16th, 2011

Down, Procrustes!

Posted by Dirck on 16 March, 2011

I’ve just come from looking at the Fountain Pen Network, where there is yet another discussion developing on the matter of explaining to friends, family and on-lookers the “why” of the fountain pen.   Why do you use that?  Why spend so much on a pen?  Why put so much effort into refilling?  And so on.

I actually have a page already addressing this issue, but there is a less practical response I want to suggest.  To some inquirers, you should say, “How is my choice of writing implement any of your business?”

I don’t mean that people who are genuinely curious should be put off with a sharp answer, but I think most of us can tell when those sorts of questions are founded in actual inquiry and when they carry the implication that you’re an idiot for thinking it’s a good idea to engage in the behaviour under examination.  To the latter class of people, you’re certainly free to be curt.

You might also pick upon some foible of theirs.  Have they any piercing at all?  A tattoo, perhaps?  Hair in a colour other than that which nature offered them?  Brightly coloured shoe-laces?  A purse in the shape of a nesting hen?  Well, in response to “why the pen”, ask why they have chosen their own particular means of self-expression.  What you have to do is pitch your voice in such a way that as to indicate that you don’t see the difference between your pen and their rhinestone-encrusted D&G glasses (although you are allowed to privately and in your innermost heart lament their decision to be an unpaid billboard).

I am surprised, given the current interest in individuality in western society, that people will still point and laugh at someone who is aside from the median.  Some people wear a fedora, some people have their head tinted a vivid blue– it’s not doing anyone else harm, so why try to make them feel shame over that choice?  Being the person you wish to be, so long as that person isn’t a cannibal, is a good thing and should lead to more happiness.  Life should feel more like art than an effort to match a specification. 

As an aside, the kids who make their hair mad colours get a certain respect from me, since I can just take my hat off in a moment, while they’re commited to looking like that.

Today’s device of self-expression: Mabie-Todd Swallow
Today’s ink in a non-standard colour: Herbin’s Poussière de Lune

p.s.– for those of you who managed to avoid a certain branch of the humanities while in school, this link might illuminate the title of today’s entry.

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