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I (Don’t) Sense A Vacuum

Posted by Dirck on 7 August, 2013

A friend of mine, who appears in the city only infrequently through going off to get an authentic education, stopped around briefly on Monday to drop off a pen he’s just bought.  Allow me to give you a sense of it:

Not the pen itself, but its very-nearly-identical two-years-older twin.

His is a little squalid around the point (which, he said with a shudder of anticipation, will have to be drawn for tine realignment) and definitely needs a new diaphragm, as the lock-down filler pops up about 10% of the correct amount, but in general it’s a nice example of a Canadian-made pre-war Vacumatic.

The bitter element, at least for me, is the discovery that he paid $12 for it (*wince!*) at an antique shop not three blocks from his house.  That’s house here, not his cubiculum in the Home for Raving Doctoral Candidates over in Blighty.  I fall to the ground frothing in a cataleptic state.

And now that I’m recovered, I rush to mention that it’s not that I resent his getting the thing.  I know he looks in here quite regularly, and is possessed of a conscience, and I want to make sure that neither he nor it take any injury from this little story.  My catalepsy results from a slightly more esoteric series of occurances, of which the appearence of this pen in my house just marks the ironic conclusion to a series of earlier experiences (for want of a better word) over the previous weeks.  In fact, if Lovercraft were writing it, it would be the bit in italics.

You see, that same antique store, which is at the “promiscuous heap of things in various states of repair” end of the spectrum of its breed rather than the “well polished boutique full of stuff you dare not look at for fear of being made to buy it and thus have to sell house, car and children”, is also quite near to my own home.  Not AS near, but in fine weather it would be less than an hour’s walk there and back, with some time for browsing among the piles.

It is also very close to an organic food store, where I regularly buy elegantly diverse-coloured eggs dropped by the healthiest of hippie-fed chickens (how one gets the hippies ground up finely enough I don’t know) at prices equal to the battery white-shells at major supermarkets.  My course frequently bends past the very place the pen was bought.

That’s still not enough, of course, over which to drop down in a fit.  We now enter the mystical phase of the story.  On three separate occasions in recent weeks, while buying eggs and really good dishwasher powder, there was the non-verbal equivalent of an interior voice which said, “You haven’t been in that antique store for too long.  Why not check it out?”  Each time, I dismissed the idea; no time, other fish to fry, son in tow, a variety of rational and valid points.

However… I know that many people look upon the whole field of psychic phenomenal and dismiss it as entirely without foundation, but I’m a certain combination of open-minded and observant which finds that as much as some of the stuff thrown up in support of it is clearly the result of combining carefully controlled amounts of hogwash, gullibility, wishful thinking and scamming, there is a quantum or two that isn’t easily dismissed and I hate the notion of the baby going out with the eyewash.  So, I don’t BELIEVE!!1! in this stuff, but I do believe in it somewhat.

Personal experience comes into play in this belief as well.  I won’t go into detail, as I’m unwilling to wear the badge of FLAKE too openly, but one branch of previous experience is that very same non-verbal sensation making various suggestions, all of which I have ignored at my own expense.  “If you go into this movie, your bike will be gone when you emerge, ” and so it was.  “Not setting the deadbolt is a very poor idea today,” and on return there’s a mysterious shoe-print on the door.  Infrequent, but after a couple of hard lessons, certainly not to be ignored.

My frothing was thus brought on not by the “loss” of the pen, but by having it bring home to me that I’m not attending properly to useful hints.  Spidey-senses may tingle, but unless Spiderman reacts it’s Mysterio triumphant;  if I’d had the sense to listen, I could easily have been crowing about my nice $12 pen rather than cleaning the spittle of apoplexy from my tie.  However, I do welcome the reminder, as it has been a long time since that non-voice has spoken to me, and I’m quite happy that the $12 pen is in the hands of someone that will properly appreciate it.  I’m also pretty happy that the consequence of the reminder wasn’t a car accident or an eye removal.

In as much as I have a point here other than an attempt to alienate both a friend and a cross-section of science-minded readers, it’s to suggest to one and all that being aware of inward notions of this sort is quite valuable.  I can moderate the flakiness by suggesting that it may well be less a set of questing esoteric tentacles reporting back warnings from the Great Beyond than a subconscious piecing together of available cues (noting below the threshold of conscious perception a sketchy looking guy on the corner in the former examples, or the passage of time since last visit in the current one).  It’s a little less romantic than eerie mental powers, but whether it’s Your Personal Spirit Guide or a self-generated Sherlock Holmes, it’s worth paying attention to.  I’m certainly getting back into the habit.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer 3-25SC
Today’s ink: Herbin Vert Empire

9 Responses to “I (Don’t) Sense A Vacuum”

  1. AndrewMB said

    Ah, how to sniff out the ordourless fountain pen…like stalking the wild asparagus (remember Euell Gibbons?), and perhaps all the hippies have been fed to the chickens already – he says smiling while The Association plays on his Grooveshark. Oh retro far enough and you’re cool again. Or not.

    I can appreciate finding such a beauty in the trash, er, antique store, since I’ve accomplished the same a couple of months ago. Specifically it happened to be two minty Parker sets: a “51” in a spiffy clamshell hard nouveau case (the pencil works too!) and a “21” uncracked or teethed specimen with one of those liquid lead pencil thingies. All original equipment and radiant. They set me back $12 each so the family can sell them to pay for my cremation when the time comes. I’m not bragging because my youngest daughter was the one who rooted them out. I would have passed through the gates totally unaware. So the synapses are fine – even more so when you have others working in tandem with ones own. What would Sherlock do?

    • Jolly good, although if that’s not a Super “21” I’m not sure there’s careful enough storage outside of Larry Niven’s stasis fields to keep it uncracked in perpetuity.

      Sherlock, as a Netflix rewatching of the new series just this past weekend reminds me, will happily unload some cognitive processing onto Watson when the situation warrants. Whether Watson likes or even knows it.

  2. I feel a need to comment from my own particular perspective as a bibliophile. I am very familiar with this sensation but I also know that it works in irrational ways. It is essentially the same sort of feeling people who dread air-travel have before every trip. They imagine all the terrible things that could happen but when the flight is over, the sense of impending doom goes as well. If something does happen it has the features of prescience.

    Of course, looking for books or pens tickles different parts of the brain that do the same work of the premonitions of disaster and they kick in only when the treasure or disaster occurs. It’s when you have something like this where proximity of circumstance makes it seem all the more relevant. I guess my coping mechanism for this is that I know 99% of the time I will not find what I hope to find and in the 1% of cases that I do, I am happy for it. I also remind myself that I actually hate fruitless searches and a success rate of at least 1/10 is the only compensation. Since it isn’t close to that rate, I usually don’t look if I don’t have the time or enough of a threshold of patience to handle disappointment. I may have missed out on some fantastic things because of this but that would have taken time (and pleasure) away from all the other things I have found before.

    And if it’s any concolation, I am unlikely to find anything approaching this sort of deal again. I think there are one or two of these sort of things for anyone and this is my pen quota used up. It’s books and only books from now on I suspect.

    • One of the myriad reasons for not pursing the urge to look in at the shop was the certain knowledge that the last visit to that place had produced no pens worthy of the name and vexation in the form of a perfectly lovely inter-bellum luggage set that was priced AS a set and thus entirely outside our modest means. And I’ve had rather more than my share of lucky strikes of this sort, so I certainly don’t begrudge it (and I’m glad you got away before the foaming began).

      Those who fear air travel can, of course, abolish all worries by carrying a bone of St. Rufus M’Gee, available through me for a donation of $12,000 sent to immarippinuoff@0refund.orgcom. The magic bone is an infallible protection against plummeting! No one who has one has yet complained of precipitous dropping! Oh, if only I’d had my magic bone while up that ladder!

    • The next day, Dame Coincidence puts on the screen before me something appropriate to the exchange: ” …{C}onsuming pop culture of any kind frequently is sort of like panning for gold. Panning is a lot of work, and it never gives the prospector a big score in and of itself, but those flecks of gold dust are worth something, and eventually they do add up. Similarly, a committed fan of anything inevitably watches, reads, and listens to a whole lot of shit while searching for the good stuff, and sometimes just a smidgen of that good stuff makes its way into something that’s of little value otherwise…..”

      We may neither of us, in this context, have a moment’s care about pop culture, but it’s a familiar sentiment.

  3. […] I (Don’t) Sense A Vacuum […]

  4. […] a proper entry today.  You may wish to have a look at the other (and less loopy) side of a story I told last week– there’s a subsequent item of diagnosis not appearing in my version, […]

  5. […] and a half applying a variety of increasingly sullen looks and other tools to that Vacumatic I made such a production over at the start of the month.  I have never seen a Vacumatic diaphragm which has become so integrated […]

  6. […] That deeply-resistant Vacumatic is home and functional after a social call on the owner last night.  Its problems were in the main down to too-liberal application of shellac– it is a useful substance, but it doesn’t go on every soft rubber surface; […]

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