Nibs, Ink and Paper

Just as slow food is good for digestion, and thus the body, slow tech is good for the soul. Today, most of my life is digital and connected. It is not a surprise that I find joy in the time-slowing aspects of all things analog. I like to make photos with film — because it puts a premium on composition. It asks me to think before I click. It makes the act of capturing a moment, anticipation. Waiting for a roll of film to be developed and scanned and sent back to you is like Christmas — where gifts are the memories. You remember what you did when you made a photo.

Similarly, I like the tactile feeling of writing with a fountain pen on paper. The soft scratch of the nib, drenched in a Churchillian purple ink, sliding over highest quality Japanese paper, makes even the most mundane notes joyful. It has been said that writing on paper helps us remember better, and at this stage of my life, I can use all the help I can get. It is a real shame more people don’t use fountain pens — it can be such an antidote to constantly peering into our screen and thumbing our way to the carpal tunnel syndrome.

Here is a comment from my friend Steve, which started this rumination to begin with: 

I understand why others don’t like chalk or pencil and paper, but slate and chalk appears to be a nearly optimal technology for the sport of physics.  It raises the question of what is best suited for a given field and how good it really is.  I find it necessary to decouple the frontal cortex a bit to let the imagination flow. This just seems to work better with paper and pencil and slate and chalk for me.

I am enjoying the act of writing my book in the longhand, and then copying it into digital format, editing and fine-tuning it along the way. Admittedly it is slower, but it is distraction free. It allows me to focus on writing, thinking and composing — in, no particular order. The second read is an excellent way to self-edit, before sending it off to the editors.

My current favorite pen is an aging Lamy Studio with a fine nib, and it is inked up with a fantastic azure colored ink from Sailor. If you are interested in fountain pens, I can recommend two cheap and cheerful pens with steel nibs — TWISBI Go, and Lamy Safari — like those coming from ballpoints and rollerballs tend to write with too much pressure. Get the ink cartridges — they are more straightforward and less messy.

And once the bug bites you, go deeper and enjoy the magic of fountain pens and inks. My two favorite shops online are Goulet Pens and JetPens. They do have a huge variety and are very knowledgable. Plus, do you want to give Amazon more of your money?

A letter from Om

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