Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Fountain Pen Day
My wife offered me the greatest gift for my birthday: a fountain pen day. This means that I get to spend the day reading and writing with and about fountain pens! Recently, a friend of mine asked me why I like fountain pens so much? So, what is the reason? I had to think about the answer at first, and then it dawned on me: fountain pens represent resistance against technopoly. Not just resistance against technology but the recognition that faster is not always better. Easier isn't always best. We are living in an age where drive-through tellers, restaurants and pharmacies are normal. Face to face contact is less common and less valued. Even though I am an introvert, I used to enjoy striking up conversations with the cashiers - it was a pleasant human activity. Now, the cashier is constantly pointing me back to the debit pin-pad and it is impossible to have a conversation. We are no longer running the machines; the machines are running us. I would like to return to the world where there is time to sit inside a restaurant to eat lunch; where the banker and grocer know who I am and I know who they are; where you do business face to face; where signmakers paint signs with brushes rather than computer cut letters; where people have real paintings in their homes rather than posters; where people play boardgames; where we are more concerned about what politicians say versus what they look like and where people write letters on actual paper. So, fountain pens represent a lifestyle and a pace that is rapidly disappearing. Taking the time to write with a fountain pen is an act of resistance but it is also recognizing that writing is a unique human priviledge. Conveying ones ideas and thoughts on paper with a fine pen becomes an act of thoughtful leisure. Using a beautiful and well-made fountain pen produces the same kind of rewarding satisfaction that I experience using one of my grandfather's woodplanes to trim down a piece of fresh pine. Technopoly is deadening our senses. Tools that allow us to use more of ourselves in their operation - that require more of our time and concentration - also keep more of our senses alert and awake.