I’m writing this issue with my sparkling new Lamy fountain pen! One of their descriptions for their pens is “thinking tools” and this is definitely a tool for thinking. Since I write first by hand, it’s as if I’m sending you a handwritten letter, but lucky for you this is more readable once I’ve cleaned it up and converted to digital text. I can read my own handwriting most of the time, but you might stumble on a few words here and there.
I had the magical idea that somehow the pen would make my writing more legible, perhaps perfected, in the use of this beautiful writing tool. I see now that the effect is, in fact, the opposite. As the ink flows out (perfectly metered by the amazing black carbon nib, medium - not too hot, not too cold) I can’t say it is the pen that makes these quirks, these fits and starts. It is, instead, my hand. And the closer my hand is to the source of thought, the faster the pen flies along the lines of the page and the more quirky and revelatory and nuanced my handwriting becomes.
Why is this a good thing? Because it is more me. Putting out the perfect text that you are now reading means homogenization of my unique strokes and crosscuts. Plus it is edited so you won’t be bored or confused. Visible in the original readout, like lines from a polygraph, are sections crossed out, places with lots of crossed out lines that indicate another train of thought, a bad turn, an interruption. These are all smoothed over as you read this version, as if photoshopped, filtered to perfection. As perfect as the pen itself, actually.
For I am the human intervenor in this process: it is my mind and thought that jiggles the black ink into place, forming the lines I learned to use when I was a schoolgirl. These letter lines trained my thoughts. As I pause to let that idea sink in, I sense so many other directions I could go - education, childhood, freedom vs training.
I went to school like we all did and learned to read and write. First printing letters. Then writing them. My teacher was magical - she gave me keys to the rest of my life in that first two years. From her, in loving ways, I learned how to please, and to fly.
I see how I became a falcon trained to go out hunting, then returning to the falconer’s forearm. Hooded and tied until sent out to fly again. It’s a leap but bear with me: my school training - elementary learning, gave me the controlled skills to hold my thought into a place. Any place. More than “focus”, it is a pulling on a leash and a hunting flight into realms of freedom, far freedom of the sky, searching for the prey, then grasping it, returning it. Here I perch proudly on their forearm, eagerly eating my reward (re-word) until the hood is replaced. Let me tell you about my falcon hood. It is magnificent as a crown. Of course, it covers my eyes so I never have seen how it looks on me, but they tell me it is beautiful, with soft leather and decorative plume, along with beaded finely-braided tassels and tiny precious stones set in. The part that covers my eyes is painted like the eyelids in a Cocteau film, as if they are open. And more than human.
I enjoy the falcon metaphor but it isn’t quite accurate, for I wasn’t trained in a dark place, held captive or any of that. And to take the metaphor apart even more, something I did ask myself when writing it - who exactly is this falconer whose forearm I am supposedly resting on, this one who receives the prey I bring back, the one who I am doing this hunting for, who I wish to please and to show that I am good?
At first I thought it was “learning”, a sort of goddess of Education, the same one my teacher was working for. On the lookout for likely prospects, pupils who could make the leap to become falcons. Of course, so many of us were cast aside by other teachers who came afterwards, who perhaps were lost, or cruel, or just empty inside. They had never heard of this falconry.
In this next leap I get the answer to my question. When I ask, “Who is it that the falcon serves?” I feel a reversal, and this is what I see:
The falcon flies off to bring back word from the skies and brings it back to me. I’m seated on my horse, scanning the horizon until I see her returning to me. I hold out my arm and she joyfully lands there.
I’m writing all this down with my new fountain pen.
Bird image from Albert Racinet's L'Ornement Polychrome (1869–73), Public Domain Review
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