We are now in week 6 of the Memoir: Writing from Personal Experience Class I am teaching in Atwater Village/Los Angeles. One thing that has struck me is that everyone has stopped bringing their laptops and has started doing free writes by hand. As Nicholas Carr comments in his book, The Shallows, “When a carpenter picks up a hammer, the hammer becomes, so far as his brain is concerned, part of his hand. When a soldier raises a pair of binoculars to his face, his brain sees a very different field of view…Our ability to meld with all matter of tools is one of the qualities that most distinguishes us as a species.” (p.208-209)
The instrument we choose may mark us as fetishists. I have a love of lined paper where the lines are not too far apart, and the paper a certain thickness to not be seen through but perhaps ink would seep occasionally pentimento-style to the other side, and that my pencil have a nice dark soft thin lead.
I once took this picture for the Moleskin fetishists in my life:
If we fetishize our tools, and our tools become one with our hand and brain, as Carr suggests, is this just another level of narcissism? Am I a Moleskin and Ticonderoga writer in comparison to a Bic and Mead type? Would I see someone across the room writing with a plastic disposable click for more lead “pencil” and avert my eyes as if they were wearing acid washed jeans and a mullet.
Our tools make such a statement, when we are just trying to use them to make a statement.
David Rees, the artisanal pencil sharpener has a new book coming out. It is called, “How to Sharpen Pencils.” I wonder if his technique creates a blessing from the muses? Does a finely-tuned instrument provide a better head to page flow? Is he a shaman or a showman with an ulterior motive, exploring OR exploiting the artisanal hipster fetish of everyday objects? Should Portlandia just pickle that pencil and get it over with?
I like to raise the questions and not answer them. I haven’t blogged in a while but WTF, might as well get some of those random thoughts out there. And yes, I am writing this on a Mac Air. Can you feel it?
Ps. I have moved here from semioticiantothestars.blogspot.com, sign up for email alerts if so inclined.
PSS. Also I plan on dashing this stuff off quick so let the errors flow.