What's up at Ravens March.

Vintage pens-Handmade books-Silly statements


Posted by Dirck on 16 July, 2012

I occasionally wander off into slightly philosophical places when making entries here, and perhaps even into tedious biography.  How about today I combine the two?  Yes, that sounds very economical!

I was cataloguing the recent arrivals, as mentioned last week, and since my cataloguing is (unsurprisingly) based upon paper and the original optical drives, I had an actual book in front of me, and a direct indication of the number of pens I’ve got in terms of thickness of pages.  For not the first time, I shook my head and muttered under my breath, “Say, that is a lot of pens.”

Usually, that’s where I leave things lie, but in this case, there was one of those silly Hollywood echo chambers in effect, and for the next hours or so I was presented with my own inner voice chanting, “Lot of PENs, lot OF pens, LOT of PENS, lot….”  Introspection was almost unavoidable.

I won’t enhance the tedium by laying out the exact stages of this inner perambulation, and simply cut to the chase.  While the utility, beauty, engineering prowess and (in many of the cases in my collection) remarkable longevity of fountain pens are all contributing factors, my tiny psychosis has its genesis in a trauma in years past.  Back in the 1980s and ’90s, when I had but only one habitual pen, there was more than one occasion on which the following item of comedy was rather too true for comfort:

In fact, when this sketch first aired, the following week was filled with friends who on sighting me called out, “Hey, did you see The Kids in The Hall?”  Ho ho, yes.  However, the trauma of misplacing one’s only decent pen is not to be minimized; it’s somewhere between misplacing a book you’ve almost finished reading and mislaying a pair of glasses.  The world doesn’t turn upside down, quite, but gravity seems to lie somewhere other than down and there’s a degree of distraction as one tries to work out where it might have gone.  Is it down inside the couch?  Might I have stepped on it out on the lawn?  Did I set it down in the grocery store?  I’m going to go look in the magazine rack again.

My current approach to fountain pen use is rather different.  While I do get a little askew when I can’t think immediately where a pen I thought was in my pocket has gone, the grosser effects of the loss are moderated.  I am very fond of all my pens (almost), but the somewhat promiscuous way I swap from one to another reduces the attachment to any specific pen, and with the reduction of attachment comes a reduction in the potential terror of loss.  By keeping a swarm of pens, I insulate myself from the shock of loss.

This revelation doesn’t do me any real good, alas.  While I have reduced my attachment to individuals, the attachment to the mass of them keeps me from claiming any virtue of a Buddhist sort and puts a new phobia in my way (Thieves!  Fire!  Sudden Celluloid Crumbling Syndrome!).  The Freudian catharsis has definitely not occurred, and I don’t see any impending end to my collecting ways; two online purchases of an extremely small sort have come since I formulated this realization.

However, understanding one’s own nature is a positive good, even if it’s without practical application.  I’m a slightly and non-demonstrably better person than I was a week ago.  Jolly good.

Today’s pen (a date-specific gift, with some extra attachments involved): Pilot Vanishing Point
Today’s ink (which I am rather fond of): Herbin’s Bleu Myosotis


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