Friday, April 15, 2016

pens pens pens

I'm processing some very deep emotional crap these days, and need a way to express what's going on with me. Visual art is sort of an alien language that doesn't viscerally satisfy, but writing does: just journaling, writing to write and form my thoughts, without much point.

I had a very large Leuchtturm 1917 notebook I'd accidentally bought when I thought A4 paper was close to 8.5"x11" (it's not), and it wasn't worth sending back. So I write in this enormous tome.

Then there's a question of the pen. My 25-year favorite, the Pilot Precise V5, worked okay, but there's a whole world of other pens out there. My friend Frank runs the Tokyo Pen Shop, so I trawled the Internet and found some likely candidates, and briefly switched to the Uniball Vision Elite. (Japan, besides just being Japan, has those highly-detailed writing systems that benefit from better-quality pens with finer tips).

But, I also ordered a Platinum Preppy fountain pen. I'd tried disposable fountain pens in high school, the Pilot Varsity, and I like the way they wrote, but the ink "feathered," meaning it soaked into the paper and made the written line all fat and fuzzy. I realize I was only using shit paper at the time, but right now the Internet said try the Preppy. It was really nice! There's a scratching physicality to writing with a fountain pen, and Leuchtturm uses excellent paper that just holds the ink rather than sponging it.

The Internet's next-step recommendations were the Lamy Safari and the Pilot Metropolitan, and hey, sure, might as well get both. They both feel so much better than the Preppy; the Safari is pure joy, if a bit light in the hand (I've since ordered the metal version, the Al-Star), and the Metropolitan is amazing to write with, but the line is puts down is crappy and feathered, so I've cleaned it out, to try with some sample inks I've ordered from Goulet.

I had always thought of fountain pens as being what are actually dip pens, but it turns out people had been annoyed with dip pens for a long time, and a couple centuries of science and engineering went into the comparatively painless modern fountain pen. Even with a low-end cartridge pen like the Platinum Preppy, there this nice connection with our quill-dipping past.

There is a whole universe of fountain pen nerdery out there, especially for people with disposable income. It's hard to imagine spending $200 on a pen, but that may just be because I haven't tried one yet.

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