Friday, August 28, 2009

The Delicious Moment of Writing

I was just given the marvellous Fountain Pens: History and Design, as a belated (but thoughtful) birthday present.

In it, I discovered Bonnard's The Letter (1906), a painting of a young woman writing with a fountain pen.

For me, it evokes the seductive alchemy of pen, paper and an undistracted mind.

It's the moment of meditation and solitude, when the paper goads you to string together experiences and insights; to transform inchoate sensations and emotions into crisp or vivid phrases.

It offers the pleasure of rhythms: the pen's smooth strokes; the beginnings and ends of paragraphs; the cadence of thoughts emerging and coalescing; the dance of style, tone, mood.

And Bonnard has made it appropriately beautiful: the luscious brown of her hair, mirroring the elegant line of her poised pen; the open white of the paper; the tapering curve of her open neckline, pointing to the page.

Sometimes when I'm changing nappies, preparing dinner or emailing editors, this is the delicious moment I long for; this marriage of ink, air and solitude.

(As an aside, this moment isn't only visual - for me, it sounds something like this.)

13 comments:

Nick Luft said...

I find the act of writing brings me the delicious moment.

A narrative structured, a metaphor imagined, a character sketched - the mechanism, whether it is a leaky biro, a stubby pencil or a clackety keyboard matters not.

The moment of composure, of concentrating on writing is important.

Gondal-girl said...

beautiful post

Damon Young said...

Thanks, Nick. I agree that composure and concentration are crucial - what RG Collingwood called 'attention' (rather than 'corrupt consciousness'). Artistic experience will out.

But I also think the tools add something to this experience. I've made the case here.

Damon Young said...

Thanks, GG.

By the way, I tried the Rhodia notebook - not so good... (old paper stock, instead of the Clairefontaine)...

Gondal-girl said...

sorry to hear that, I did hear that Clairefontaine only recently bought Rhodia, so there may be a few rotten eggs in the dozen....?

To sound like a complete paper nerd, try rubbing the paper on your cheek - if it is Clairefontaine it feels silky like a beautiful high thread count sheet....

Will have to check out the fountain pen book, wish I could convert with as much zeal as you...

Damon Young said...

It's the 80gsm paper, definitely. The 90gsm Clairefontaine Rhodia aren't in Australia until 2010.

It's not zeal. It's enthusiasm. Restrained, rational enthusiasm.

(ahem)

Gondal-girl said...

that is intriguing...I haven't tried my face fondle with the ones recently bought here, only with the French ones....

Glad I am not along with my paper gsm fetish

Rachel Fenton said...

I'm sensing a lot of subtext in these comments! I also had a belated birthday present this week - a pink fountain pen...I cannot tell you how much it made me chuckle (in a nice warm way, fondly) and I thought of your last pen post! I think it's really lovely to think about the objects we use, which are all too often consigned to the hum drum, and to appreciate how they enrich our lives, and to wonder just why that is.

Damon Young said...

Subtext? What subtext?

katiecrackernuts said...

Sounds good. Is it a new book. I gave my father a fountain pen last year for his 60th, one about the same age as he is, to add to his collection. It's a book he'd like - and that I could read to (cough, cough).

Damon Young said...

It's a second-hand book, Katie - published in 1998.

You can browse some copies here.

Elk said...

I love the poetry of the words you have used to describe the act of writing. For me writing is a chance to reflect on the rhythms of language, to reflect the textures of life and allows you to focus on the things you might not otherwise notice of pay attention to.
In my career there is little time for words as I am caught up in pushing pixels around, shaping and reshaping colours and patterns into new visual compositions.
At home I prefer to take time out at least once a week to just write something, a story, a poem, and it matters not that I don't share them as merely sitting down and composing a thread of words is enough to satisfy me and introduce a sense of balance to my mind.

Damon Young said...

Thanks, Elk.

Yes, I think many artists try different media to enliven or ease their minds. I sometimes draw or paint to blow the dust off my brain. I know Matisse played the violin.

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