Monday, August 8, 2016

Writing With a Pen...On Paper...Makes You Smarter

The piece on the Fountain Pen wasn't complete because, because the purpose of pens, inks, and papers is to write. One writes ones thoughts, which if the paper itself survives, may tell future generations your thoughts.  Reading what the great thinkers of yesterday had to say informs me that man has not changed since man first recorded his thought on clay tablets.  Writing a letter telling someone else about what goes on in your life, and getting a response keeps people in touch in ways e-mail does not.  I found a bunch of letters home to my Mom, on her death, that I had written and she had kept.  Oh, the sophomoric confidence of youth!. Or you could write a novel, or....just a list of things you need at the grocery store. Writing can be as prosaic as a business letter, of as complicated as a T. S Elliott poem. Nancy Olsen's piece Three Ways Writing with a Pen Affects Your Brain at Forbes Magazine notes that writing with a pen on paper positively affects your brain. Writing increases neural activity in the brain and sharpens your thought processes. But it also slows the brain down, giving time to think more thoroughly.

So, while I am an old curmudgeon who wants to see future generations still know how to add and subtract in their heads, use a slide rule, use logarithms, and other archaic techniques, this article points out that hand writing does indeed make us better thinkers.  And isn't thinking better the essence of being smarter?  Knowing facts is important, to be sure, but to then go beyond the facts to synthesizing a philosophy from these is what truly makes us human.  A pen (preferably a fountain pen) ink, and paper make that possible.

Update: The author of this blog apparently went through the same process I did late in life, when he realized his handwriting technique, never good, hand become crappy. The blog is Write Analog While a lot of the information presented here is interesting and worthwhile, the most interesting is the youtube piece embedded entitled "Why Write: Penmanship for the 21st Century.  The speaker is a Master Penman and an artist, and uses his penmanship in his art.  But you and I, the lowly penmen who just want to write a letter don't have to achieve Master Penmanship levels to get the benefits of writing.  Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of people to write to anymore, but I do keep a journal that keeps me practicing writing each and ever day.

It is possible to get too much into fountain pens in the search for the "perfect pen," which of course doesn't exist, and spend way to much money on pens.  So here's a few I have found to be worthy pens at a cheap price.  For carrying in the field, the Lamy Safari. You can change nibs on Lamy pens, which makes them very versatile.  Lamy pens do not have the most buttery smooth nibs on the planet, but can be tamed down with a little writing on a piece of leather.  Not too much.  It is basically like a strop.  For a more flexible nib, may I suggest the Noodler's Ahab. I just got one of these to replace a beloved Sensa Meridian that had broken. The pen is fantastic, smooth, durable, and fits my hand perfectly.

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