Mar. 9th, 2017

alexpgp: (Visa)
In his In Search of Lost Time, the taste of a madeleine—a small cake—evoked powerful memories of things past in the mind of author Marcel Proust.

Last night, during my attendance at the bimonthly meeting of the local pen club, the information being presented during the main program, which discussed cursive writing and printing and other means of recording information, evoked memories of sixth grade and the fellow who sat next to me in class.

Among the points made during the course of the presentation was that the ballpoint pen has not helped the cause of cursive writing (there is an article at the Web site of The Atantic magazine that actually claims the ballpoint killed cursive). And that everything really started to go downhill for cursive in the U.S. with the introduction, in 1959, of the Bic ballpoint pen.

The Bic was cheap (I seem to recall it cost 19 cents at its introduction), reliable (in the sense that it didn't get all gummed up the way some competitor pens had a tendency to do), and pretty much did its job without you first having to scribble on a piece of scrap paper to get the ink flowing.

The Bic was so cheap, in fact, that there was only a moderate incentive to keep track of one's pen. We had scads of pens and pencils in the house—although far from all of the ballpoints were Bics—and I knew that if I lost the one I was using, I could always get another one. In retrospect, I feel this was not an ideal environment, as I developed a very lackadaisical attitude toward pens and other personal possessions that I've had to overcome later in life.

Yet it was this lackadaisical attitude that made Donald (my class neighbor) stand out in my mind. Besides being a heck of a nice guy who was always neatly dressed (qualities that not all the boys in my class could lay claim to, including yours truly), his penmanship was neat and uniform. Moreover, the Bic he was using in spring was the same pen he had started the school year with (you could tell by looking at the ink level).

I did not discover fountain pens until somewhere in 7th or 8th grade, when I picked up a book on a form of shorthand called "Speedwriting," which encouraged the student to use a fountain pen instead of a ballpoint because the former was more efficient, from both the point of view of laying down a line and of not straining the hand.

I never completely followed through with speedwriting (though I did pick up some basics) and while I continued to use a fountain pen throughout junior high, I never developed any kind of loyalty to fountain pens, until fairly recently.

Now, they're about all I use.

That, and a keyboard. :)



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