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Paging Dr. Freud

Posted by Dirck on 4 September, 2012

Those ads which I left you with before the long weekend (Happy May Day, by the way, even if we Norte Americanos are four months late at marking it) stemmed from a thread on the Fountain Pen Network.  That thread began as no more than someone else committing the very same act of sharing I did on Friday, but the internet being what it is, there was a discussion launched.  One of the more pernicious posters there (at this point I pause to comedically point a finger at my own head while studiously ignoring it) mentions the Freudian implications of the PFM line and the co-eval version of the Lady Sheaffer.

…and then because the FPN is trying to keep things reasonably safe for the kids, little more was said.  My long-ignored and nearly-forgotten line of psychology classes is wriggling uncomfortably, though, so I’m going to air the implications in this forum, when every prospect pleases and only I am king.  First, why not have a quick glance at the 1959 Sheaffer ads with their veiled content?  You Mad Men fans will see just what the show is trying to simulate, and it gives a foundation to what follows.

Ready?  Well, the obvious place to start is the PFM, which like most things one hardly dare mention in open conversation hides behind initials.  The are few pen-filling mechanisms which a dedicated feminist could point to with more justification as a glorification of male principles than the Snorkel, and if described in a certain way, with absolute justification.  Consider: the pen becomes sullen and unresponsive unless with some regularity it extends a rigid probe into a damp chamber, and there is also a bit of pumping action.

And yes, I’m glad I’m not using a pen with that filler today.  I’d hardly be able to look it in the eye.  The TV ad, never expecting to be caught for posterity, puts some icing on this cake of revulsion, with its “man-size grip” and “just the right length”.  Have a moment for a shudder, as I certainly am.

The ad copy for the Lady Sheaffer is somewhat less direct.  Sexist, of course, with that strange line about “refills like her lipstick,” but not so instantly made the Electra to the PFM’s Oedipus.  To manage this, I turn again to the filling mechanism.  Some will say that the Lady Sheaffer, as a cartridge pen, doesn’t have one, and that in itself is interesting– it’s a passive pen, awaiting fulfillment by the action of others.  Give it a little more work, though, and it becomes every bit as squalid as the Snorkel.  Like the PFM, without regular attention the pen becomes sullen, but that attention takes the form of opening it up, and inserting a rigid cylinder into its innermost chamber.  There’s the subtext to make one uneasy about their choice of writing instrument!

Thus, I suspect, do I alienate readership with this little airing of my thought processes, my little catharsis.  It could be worse.  I could be interested in Ford automobiles of the same vintage, and while the chant of “a pen is just a pen” may bring mental relief, there’s little to be done for the Edsel’s subliminal naughtiness.

Today’s somewhat hermaphroditic pen: Sheaffer Triumph 330
Today’s ink: Skrip Brown (in a cartridge roughly contemporary with the pen, for a wonder)


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