As the saying goes, “The Pen Is Mightier Than The Sword”, the image that comes to my mind is important politicians signing similarly important peace treaties to end wars and hostilities. Ahh!… Yes, the classic image of the early to mid 20th Century… Fast forward to the present times, and movers and shakers in the corporate world, representing important business corporations, signing equally important business contracts and agreements that will affect how much the GDP of their countries will be affected.
This article is part of the Going Old School series. If you landed here out of nowhere, then click here to go to the beginning. Otherwise, please continue reading.
But wait a minute… In this modern day and age, people will be “penning” more often with keyboards rather than with an actual pen. And in the unlikely scenario that they actually have to write something down with a real pen, it’s most likely going to be cheap, disposable, and insignificant “ink-sticks”. That’s right, something that you use to scribble, then toss away, and not batter an eyelid to wonder if you’ll ever see it again. After all, there’ll always be tons of other similar “ink-sticks” inside a drawer somewhere, just waiting for it to be taken out for it’s single-use.
So what do I consider real pens? Ultra expensive “pens” that are made of precious metals, and decorated with even more precious gemstones? Well, as long as it writes, I guess… But that’ll be more like a status symbol than a tool for the modern man to use to pen his thoughts into his leather bound journal.
To me, a real pen is one that is cherished, that is a joy to use, to interact with. That’s right, a pen is a tool that has a “soul” and attachment with its owner. A pen is a tool, a permanent tool. The only consumable part should be nothing more than just refilling it with ink. There should never be any disposable parts in a real pen. It need not be very expensive, though higher price models tend to be a better looker, and maybe, just maybe, perform better than the cheaper options.
And the only candidate that fits this description is a fountain pen.
Be it an exotic and flamboyant looking Italian design, a modest but functional German engineering, a precision Japanese artwork, or simply a cheap Chinese knock-off, a fountain pen is still a fountain pen. The only consumable part of a fountain pen is the environmentally friendly ink, which itself contains more than 90% water. The balance is nothing more than water soluble dyes. Well, except for some designer or special purpose inks, which commands an insignificant share of the ink market anyway.
Unlike the similarly priced roller-balls and ball-points, which pen-body is nothing more than an over-hyped and glorified hollow tubes to house the “refills”… Yes, it’s the same “ink-sticks” as the ultra-cheap, non-descript, disposable tubes, with the actual writing ink sealed inside it. The refill itself is designed to be non-refillable, thus environmentally hazardous, a disposable part, and landfill contributing plastic or metal tubes.
After all that’s said and done, the question still remain – Do you still write, and I mean actually put a pen to paper, in this day and age? I don’t know about you, but me personally, I try to do it at every opportunity I get, though not as often as I’d like to.
So what are the benefits that I get from actually writing something down as oppose to simply typing it down with a keyboard? Well, for one thing, my penmanship actually improved. My chicken scratches, developed back when I was hurriedly scribbling down notes as the lecturer dictated away in my college days, are now actually more legible than ever before.
You know the many different types of fonts that are available for you to select on your computer? Most of them are based on actual handwriting, using specialised fountain pens. No more Plain Jane cursive writing, but actually writing in Copperplate cursive, or Gothic prints. Now imagine writing a greeting card in freehand calligraphy. I’m sure the recipient of your card would have been delighted to know that you actually took the trouble to write it down using your own hands, as opposed to getting a pre-printed card.
This is just another one of my many joys of going old school. Perhaps you should try it too.